Team USA Sweep NBC has been waiting for a good old fashioned American butt kicking, and in the men's freestyle skiing slopestyle, they got it. The United States swept the podium, with Joss Christensen winning the gold, followed by Gus Kenworthy and Nicholas Goepper. All three have stories. Christensen's father died just six months ago, and he was competing in tribute. Kenworthy is adopting stray dogs in Sochi to prevent them from being killed. Goepper is from Indiana and has been on The Late Show with David Letterman. Expect a jingoistic telecast tonight.
First Time Event, but Expected Result The first ever Olympic team luge relay was held today. The way it works is that a female single sledder goes first down the ice, and hits a pad at the bottom to release the gates for a male singles sledder. Once he hits the paid, a double team goes down the ice, and they hit the pad to stop the clock. Best time wins. No shock, the Germans won gold, giving them a sweep of all the luge events. Russia gave the home crowd a thrill by winning silver, while Latvia took the bronze. The United States finished 6th.
End of an Era The eyes of the home crowd were all on Evgeni Plushenko as the men's short program began. Near the beginning of his routine though, his back injury flared up and Plushenko withdrew. This almost certainly ends the career of one of figure skating's greatest talents and greatest personalities, for good or for ill. For those that did compete, Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan) and Patrick Chan (Canada) have pulled out ahead of the pack. American Jason Brown is in 6th, but is less than a point away from third. Jeremy Abbott fell again, but kept going with a boost from the Russian fans.
Today in Hockey Team USA, Canada, and Russia all got started in men's hockey, and the fortunes were mixed. The US scored six goals in the 2nd period to crush Slovakia 7-1. Russia needed a good 3rd period to put Slovenia away for good 5-2. Canada, meanwhile, let Norway hang around in winning 3-1. Finland also doubled up Austria 8-4, but Teemu Selanne did not finish the game with a neck injury.
On the women's side, pool play concluded with Russia beating Sweden 3-1 and Germany beating Japan 4-0. The knockout round looks like this:
Switzerland vs. Russia, winner plays Canada
Finland vs. Sweden, winner plays United States
Upset on the Ice Zhang Hong of China was not a medal favorite in the women's speed skating 1000 meters, but she skated the race of her life to win gold by .67 seconds. Silver and bronze went to, of course, the Netherlands, won by Ireen Wust and Margot Boer respectively. Americans Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were considered medal contenders, but only managed 7th and 8th.
They Also Won Gold medals went to Martin Fourcade of France in the 20km biathlon (his second gold of these Games), Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland in the women's 10km cross country classical event (despite a broken foot), and Li Jianrou of China in the women's 500 m short track (won when everyone else in the final crashed).
Today in Curling The US women got a win! They beat Japan 8-6 for their first win of the tournament. The US men weren't so lucky today, falling to Great Britain 5-3. The Russian men gave the crowd a thrill when they scored 3 in the final end without the hammer to stun Switzerland. We're about halfway through round robin play, and here the standings in the men's tournament:
And the women's:
Medal Count No change at the top. It's still Norway leading in total medals, and Germany leading in golds. The United States does move up in both thanks to the sweep.
1. Norway 13 (4 G, 3 S, 6 B)
2. Netherlands 12 (4 G, 3 S, 5 B)
3. United States 12 (4 G, 2 S, 6 B)
4. Russia 11 (2 G, 5 S, 4 B)
5. Germany 10 (7 G, 2 S, 1 B)
6. Canada 10 (4 G, 4 S, 2 B)
No one else has more than 5 total medals.
On Tap Bode Miller and Ted Ligety get shots at medals with the Super Combined event. The men's figure skating competition concludes with the free skate. In hockey, there are four games in pool play: Czech Republic-Latvia, Sweden-Switzerland, Norway-Finland, and Canada-Austria. The last two runs in women's skeleton are run. Americans are in 2nd and 4th right now. Medals will also be awarded in biathlon (women's 15km individual), cross country (men's 15km classic), and freestyle skiing (women's aerials). Finally, in curling, the both US teams have chances to make ground. The men face bottom feeds Russia and Germany, while the women play last place Denmark.