Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sochi Olympics Recap!

USA Today:
It didn’t look good for the United States. No medals in individual figure skating for the first time since 1936. No medals in speedskating for the first time since 1984. The four most identifiable Winter Olympians — Shaun White, Bode Miller, Lindsey Vonn, Shani Davis — won a total of one bronze medal. (In Vonn’s defense, she wasn’t competing in Sochi due to injury.)

The women’s hockey team blew a late 2-0 lead in the gold-medal game and the men’s team was outscored 6-0 in the medal rounds.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. American athletes won 28 medals, good for second on the overall medal count. (That was nine fewer medals than the U.S. won in Vancouver, however.) Team USA’s 12 bronze medals were the most for any nation. It’s the third time in the past four Winter Olympics the Americans have won that tally.

Scoring a 93.50 on his first run, Sage Kotsenburg earned the first gold medal of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the first-ever gold medal awarded in the new snowboarding slopestyle discipline. Kotsenburg had never attempted the backside 1620 with a Japan grab before his run - not even in practice - but decided to try it after talking to his coach and his brother.

American snowboarder Jamie Anderson won gold in women's snowboard slopestyle a day after Sage Kotsenburg did the same for the men. The South Lake Tahoe, Calif. native entered the Olympics as a heavy favorite after winning the 2012 and 2013 X Games, and made a near-flawless run in the final to take home the prize.

At 23, David Wise is still so young in his freeskiing career, but here at the Sochi Games, he's the old soul on the U.S. Freeskiing Team. He's the one with a wife and a daughter, the one who has been dominating the sport for several years, with back-to-back-to-back X Games titles, a world championship, and now Olympic gold, won here at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park Tuesday in Men's Ski Halfpipe.

Maddie Bowman, the two-time reigning Winter X Games champion in freestyle skiing women's halfpipe, won the first Olympic gold medal in the event for an American sweep in freeski halfpipe.

The U.S. ski team finishes the Sochi Olympics with five medals, tying its second-best performance. The U.S. team also won five in Sarajevo in 1984. The all-time high for the U.S. team was eight medals in Vancouver in 2010.

In her first Olympic race, the women’s giant slalom Tuesday, 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin took fifth. With a temporary "USA" tattoo on her neck, she sure as heck gave it the full Friday Night Lights treatment here at Rosa Khutor, throwing down two incredible — and very different — runs to win gold in the women’s slalom. Shiffrin is the youngest gold medalist, ever, in Olympic women’s slalom.

It has been 12 years since Bode Miller won his first Olympic medals, in Salt Lake City. He is 36 now and these are surely his last Olympic Games. No question he is the best ski racer the United States has ever produced. He has six Olympic medals, including a bronze in the super-G here in Sochi. He has two overall World Cup titles, 33 World Cup wins, 78 World Cup podium finishes. He is is also one of only five skiers to win World Cup races in five disciplines.

Julia Mancuso won Alpine skiing bronze in the women's super-combined. Mancuso now has four Olympic medals—a gold, two silvers and a bronze—making her the second-most decorated American skier behind Bode Miller. She can also lay claim to being one of three Americans to win individual medals at three Winter Games. Bonnie Blair and Apolo Ohno share that accolade with Mancuso.

At Wednesday’s men’s super-G at Rosa Khutor, Ted Ligety put on a clinic to win the first American Alpine skiing gold of these Olympics. Indeed, he won big. It was one of the great moments of the 2014 Games. Ligety now has two Olympic gold medals. His first came in the combined in Torino in 2006. He and Andrea Mead Lawrence, who won the slalom and the GS in Oslo in 1952, are now the only two American skiers with two Olympic gold medals in Alpine.

The slalom was won by Austria's 34-year-old Mario Matt, who surpassed former racer Kjetil Andre Aamodt in becoming the oldest alpine skier to win an Olympic gold medal. Ligety emerged from the first run of slalom with a surprising sixth-fastest time, within range of another medal, but did not finish his second run on the unusually tricky course.

Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton won America's first medal in the two-man bobsled since 1952. By finishing third in the four-man competition on Sunday and winning his second bronze medal of the Sochi Games, Holcomb became the first U.S. driver since Stanley Benham in 1952 — 62 years ago — to win two medals in the same games. Holcomb won the first gold for the U.S. in four-man in since 1948 at the Vancouver Games four years ago, ending another 62-year barren run.

Bobsleder Elana Myers also made history by winning the silver medal in the women's two-person bobsled, with teammate Lauryn Williams. Williams became just the fifth athlete ever to win a medal in both the Summer and Winter Games after earning gold in the 4x100m relay in London 2012, as well as silver at the 2004 Games in the 100m.

Two years after Michael Phelps became the most decorated Summer Olympian in history, Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the most decorated Winter Olympian in history, winning his 13th carer medal in Sochi. That moved him past his countryman and fellow Bjoern, Bjoern Daehlie. Not to be outdone, another Norwegian cross-country skier, Marit Bjoergen, became the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever. She won her sixth career gold in Sochi.

Viktor Ahn, a South Korean speedskater who defected to Russia after the Vancouver Games, won three gold medals and a bronze in short track speedskating, making him the most decorated athlete in Sochi. Another foreign-born Russian athlete, American Vic Wild, won two golds in snowboard. Together, the Vic transplants would have finished a combined eighth on the overall medal count.

The other three-time gold medalists in Sochi: Bjoergen and Belarus biathlete Darya Domracheva.

More information:
» NBC Olympics: Team USA Day-by-Day

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