With just a few days of competition to go, yet another Olympics is quickly slipping away from us. But before it’s all in the rearview mirror, let’s recap the winners, losers, and craziest moments for the Americans in the Games thus far, while also taking a look ahead to the climactic moments that still await us before the Closing Ceremony.
The U.S. Slopestyle Men: U.S. athletes tend to thrive in Olympic extreme sports brought over from the X Games, so naturally, the introduction of slopestyle skiing to Sochi yielded a podium sweep for the Americans. Joss Christensen took the gold, and he was flanked by friends and fellow countrymen Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper at the medal ceremony–just the third time in history that the U.S. has swept a Winter Olympic podium.
The U.S. Ice Dancers: You may not enjoy ice dancing; you may even resent that figure skating gets the lion’s share of primetime attention during the Games. But give credit where credit is due–Meryl Davis and Charlie White (both undergrads at the University of Michigan) won the first ice dancing gold medal in U.S. history after logging an incredible 17 years of skating together.
Kaitlyn Farrington: Farrington pulled off a huge upset in the women’s halfpipe competition, throwing down her absolute best run possible while some of the Olympics’ best stars from past Games faltered. Farrington knocked 2006 gold medalist Hannah Teter off the podium entirely, while ensuring that the rivalry between heavyweight contenders Torah Bright of Australia (2010 gold medalist) and Kelly Clark of the U.S. (2002 gold) remained a battle for silver (Bright grabbed silver, Clark got bronze).
Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller: After a couple of Olympics in which Bode Miller was the star of U.S. men’s downhill skiing, this was supposed to be Ted Ligety’s turn to enjoy the spotlight. Thus far, that has not been the case. At 36, Bode became the oldest athlete to medal in an Alpine skiing event when he grabbed a bronze in the super-G event, while fellow American Andrew Weibrecht also came through by coming up with a very unlikely silver medal in the same event.
Shaun White: Over the past two Olympics, Americans had come to rely on Shaun White to bring home men’s halfpipe gold for his country, pulling out gravity-defying, ridiculous moves no one had ever seen before. But in Sochi, we learned this freak of nature is still human–White opted out of the new slopestyle event so he could focus solely on bringing home his third straight halfpipe gold, only to fall in his first run and eventually finish a dismal, shocking fourth.
U.S. Speed Skating Team: With no medals (in regular or short track) and a controversy over the effectiveness of their supposedly “state-of-the-art” racing suits, it’s hard to say whether the U.S. is right about their shoddy equipment or grasping at straws to explain their subpar performance. American speed skating great Shani Davis highlights the disappointment–Davis finished 8th in the 1,000-meter and 11th in the 1,500 meter, despite the fact that he has two Olympic 1,000-meter gold medals and two more 1,500-meter silvers.
Lindsey Jacobellis: Jacobellis, an eight-time X Games champ in snowboard cross, continued to prove that the Olympics are her kryptonite in Sochi. In 2006, she crashed on one of her last jumps in the final, which blew her lead and forced her to settle for a silver medal. Vancouver was even worse, as a wipeout in the semifinals kept her out of the medal round. And this time around, it was more of the same story, as Jacobellis built up a massive lead in her semifinal only to fall near the bottom of the course and get passed by her competitors. She’s still in her 20s though, so maybe next time.
Bob Costas’ Eyes: The anchor of the Olympics suffered from pink eye symptoms that just continued to get worse until Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira had to step in and relieve him for a few days. Way to try toughing it out, Bob, but no need to take an Olympic athlete’s mentality to the news desk.
Kate Hansen’s Warmup Routine: While her competitors stretched out and did calisthenics (or whatever you do to get ready to do a luge run), American Kate Hansen threw her headphones on and grooved to Beyonce and truly didn’t care who was watching. For most Americans, that was enough to make her their collective favorite, although it was actually her teammate Erin Hamlin who took home a medal in the event–a bronze.
The American shootout win over the Russians: Let’s be honest, it wasn’t the Miracle on Ice, but it was still a great, great hockey game. The U.S. and Russia battled to a 2-2 tie before it came down to a shootout that lasted an intense eight rounds. Shootout specialist T.J. Oshie was sent out for six of the U.S.’s shots, and he came away with four scores, including the game winner. The U.S. went on to win all three of their pool play games.
Still to Come
Women’s Hockey Gold Medal Game: On Thursday (12 p.m. ET), it’s USA vs. Canada in their fourth Olympic gold medal game (and only the fifth overall). Canada’s taken the last three women’s hockey golds, and they also barely beat out the U.S. in pool play last week, 3-2. It’s the most heated rivalry at the Winter Games, so find a way to watch it at work or on tape delay Thursday night.
Four-Man Bobsled: On Saturday (11:30 a.m. ET) and Sunday (4:30 a.m. ET), the U.S. men look to defend their 2010 gold medal, featuring two members of that squad and two new faces. They’ll be one of the favorites.
Men’s Hockey Enters the Elimination Round: The knockout round of the Main Event kicks off on Tuesday, as the bottom eight teams play for spots in the quarterfinals. The U.S. awaits the winner of Czech Republic-Slovakia for their QF matchup on Wednesday, but don’t count on another U.S.-Canada gold medal game, as the bracket is set to pit the two countries together in the semifinals, should each one get there. But regardless, it’s a tough tournament with a lot of talent throughout the icy parts of the world, so don’t take anything for granted. The Games close with the men’s gold medal game on Sunday morning (7 a.m. ET).