Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Day 3 Medal Predictions and Results
Day 3 of competition at the Winter Olympics in Sochi proved to be a special day for Canada with two memorable gold-medal performances.
Canadian Charles Hamelin defended the gold medal he won at Vancouver by taking first place in the 1,500-meter short track speedskating race. He can compare double golds with freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau, who won gold in the moguls event for the second straight time in the Olympics.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany won the super combined alpine skiing event, using a strong run in the slalom to overtake American Julia Mancuso, who finished third. Michel Mulder of the Netherlands edged out two other Dutch skaters to win gold in the 500-meter speedskating sprint.
Finally, Martin Fourcade of France won the 12.5 kilometer pursuit event, giving his country its first gold medal of the Olympics.
Read on to see a breakdown of all the medal events (and how close our predictions were to the actual results!).
Women's Alpine Skiing: Super Combined
Despite being behind by a whole second after the downhill portion of the super combined, Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch won her second consecutive gold medal in the event.
Hoefl-Riesch turned in a time of 50.90 in the slalom discipline to overtake the leader after the downhill, Julia Mancuso of the United States. Mancuso fell back to third place after her time in the slalom of 52.47.
The silver medal went to Nicole Hosp of Austria, who cruised down the slalom course in 51.07, but her time was not good enough to catch up with Hoefl-Riesch.
Lara Gut of Switzerland, who was second after the downhill, failed to finish in the slalom, a fate that a couple of other skiers faced as well.
Gold: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany): 2:34.62 total time
Silver: Nicole Hosp (Austria): 2:35.02
Bronze: Julia Mancuso (United States): 2:35.15
Last Updated by Joe Tansey.
In an event that pairs a morning downhill race followed by an afternoon slalom, the obvious pick would be Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the defending world champion and 2010 Olympic gold medalist.
Usually skiers are good at one or the other—sheer speed in the downhill or technical prowess in the slalom. Hoefl-Riesch is threat to medal in any event she skis at the Games, however.
U.S. skier Julia Mancuso, the most decorated female Alpine Olympian with three medals, won silver here in Vancouver, but she has been out of form this season. Consider her a dark horse with potential to surprise.
As Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times notes, "The one thing you can't deny about Mancuso is her ability to perform on the big stage."
Teammates Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook have been consistently fast in downhill training, and Mancuso was right there in eighth on the last day. Leanne Smith will also start.
This oddball race is an open one, with Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon suddenly entering the picture by winning her career first World Cup race in this event just before the Olympics. If she wins a medal, it would be Canada’s first Alpine medal since 1992.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger has shown good speed this season and in training runs. Versatile veterans Nicole Hosp—Fenninger’s teammate—and Slovenian Tina Maze have all the tools needed for a podium finish, though Maze has struggled this season in comparison to last.
Gold: Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Germany
Silver: Anna Fenninger, Austria
Bronze: Marie-Michele Gagnon, Canada
Men's Short-Track Speedskating: 1,500 Meters
Charles Hamelin of Canada is not known for his role in the 1,500-meter race, but he became famous in the event after his third-to-first move that handed his country its second gold medal of the Sochi Games.
Hamelin, who is also a favorite in the 500-meter race, held off a late charge from Tianyu Han of China and Victor An of Russia to celebrate his third overall gold medal.
By winning the 1,500 meters, Hamelin has now earned a gold in his third different short-track event, which ties an Olympic record.
Han barely beat out An for second place as the difference between the two was seven-hundredths of a second.
An made history for the host nation as Russia earned its first medal in short-track speedskating.
J.R. Celski of the United States, who hoped to medal in the event, finished in fourth place.
Gold: Charles Hamelin (Canada): 2:14.480
Silver: Tianyu Han (China): 2:15.055
Bronze: Victor An (Russia): 2:15.062
Last Updated by Joe Tansey.
Short-track’s opening race of the Olympics could answer some big questions: Who will step into the void left by Apolo Anton Ohno, the skater who put the sport on the map? Just how good is J.R. Celski? And can former Ohno rival Victor An speak any Russian?
An won three gold medals in the 2006 Games for South Korea but did not race in Vancouver due to a knee injury. After a falling out with the Korean federation, he became a Russian citizen and changed his name. If and when he does land on the podium, it would mark Russia’s first short-track medal. But it should come with an asterisk.
He, along with Canadian brothers Charles and Francois Hamelin and a deep South Korean team, will provide the most competition for Celski, who in 2010 capped a remarkable recovery from a gashed leg to win bronze in this event.
Gold: Victor An, Russia
Silver: J.R. Celski, United States
Bronze: Han-Bin Lee, South Korea
Men's Speedskating: 500 Meters
It was a spectacular performance for the Dutch speedskating team in the 500-meter sprint.
Michel Mulder of the Netherlands won the gold medal as he turned in a time of 34.67 in the second race and gave him the edge by .01 over teammate Jan Smeekens. Mulder's twin brother, Ronald, finished third in the event.
Dutch skaters had never won Olympic gold in the 500 meters, but they found a way to sweep the event in Sochi.
Smeekens thought he won the event when he crossed the finish line after the second race, and he thought his time had given him the gold. However, just a few seconds later, officials posted a corrected time of 34.72, placing him in second.
Shani Davis placed 24th in the event, and that was the best finish among American skaters. Teammate Tucker Fredricks finished 26th.
Gold: Michel Mulder (Netherlands): 69.312 total time
Silver: Jan Smeekens (Netherlands): 69.324
Bronze: Ronald Mulder (Netherlands): 69.46
Last updated by Steve Silverman.
U.S. star Shani Davis makes his Sochi debut on Day 3, but don’t expect him to make the podium in speedskating’s glamour event, which is similar to track and field’s 100-meter dash. The winner is determined by combining the times from two 500-meter sprints.
Instead, look for South Korea’s Tae Bum Mo to defend his Olympic gold and the other two spots to go to skaters from perennial speedskating powerhouse Holland (home to world sprint champion Michel Mulder and brother Ronald) or Japan’s Keiichiro Nagashima and Joji Kato.
Davis caught a break to make the U.S. team in this event. At the Olympic trials, he placed behind Jonathan Garcia, whose personal-best time put him on the team in fourth place, but he was disqualified for not wearing timing transponders, a backup timing mechanism. Garcia was permitted a re-skate but finished sixth.
Three-time Olympian Tucker Fredricks is the U.S. team’s sprint specialist, but Mitchell Whitmore holds the American record.
Gold: Tae Bum Mo, Korea
Silver: Michel Mulder, Holland
Bronze: Joji Kato, Japan
Men's Freestyle Skiing: Moguls
Alex Bilodeau had a spectacular final run in the moguls, and that allowed him to trounce the six-man final field and take home his second consecutive Olympic gold medal. Bilodeau scored 26.31, and that enabled him to beat teammate Mikael Kingsbury by 1.60 points.
Kingsbury had a chance to overtake his teammate after an excellent start, but he was not as clean on the turns as Bilodeau, and he had to settle for silver.
The 1-2 finish for Canada could have been 1-2-3 if Marc-Antoine Gagnon could have held on for third place. However, Russian skier Alexandr Smyshlyaev took the bronze medal away from Gagnon when he scored a 24.34 on his final run.
U.S. skier Patrick Deneen made it to the final six skiers and displayed blazing speed, but he struggled to keep his form together and had to settle for sixth place. No other American freestyler made the finals.
Gold: Alex Bilodeau (Canada): 26.31 pts
Silver: Mikael Kingsbury (Canada): 24.71
Bronze: Alexandr Smyshlyaev (Russia): 24.34
Last updated by Steve Silverman.
Patrick Deneen, the U.S.' top moguls skier who is ranked No. 3 in the world, was a medal favorite going into the 2010 Games, but he crashed on the final round’s last jump. To land on the podium's top spot this time around, he'll have to conquer the past and the two-headed Canadian juggernaut of world No. 1-ranked Mikael Kingsbury (defending world champion) and No. 2 Alex Bilodeau (defending Olympic champion).
If Deneen comes up short, then keep an eye on Bradley Wilson, because an American has won a medal in this event in the past four Olympics. That includes 2010, when Bryon Wilson, Bradley’s brother, took surprise bronze.
Gold: Mikael Kingsbury, Canada
Silver: Patrick Deneen, United States
Bronze: Alex Bilodeau, Canada
Men’s Biathlon: 12.5-Kilometer Pursuit
Martin Fourcade won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He went one better this time around at Sochi as he took home the gold medal in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit event.
Fourcade was very strong on his skis, and he knew that he had a strong lead as he prepared to shoot at the final station. He was perfect on all five of his final shots before he raised his hands in victory and skied flawlessly to the finish line.
Veteran Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was trying to earn his record-tying 12th Winter Olympic medal, but he had to settle for fourth place. The 40-year-old from Norway stomped his skis in frustration once he realized he did not meet his goal.
Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic finished second, while Jean Guillaume Beatrix of France finished third.
Gold: Martin Fourcade (France): 33:48.6 total time
Silver: Ondrej Moravec (Czech Republic): 34:02.7
Bronze: Jean Guillaume Beatrix (France): 34:12.8
Last updated by Steve Silverman.
Watching 40-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen motor to his record-tying 12th Winter Olympic medal in the 10 kilometer on Saturday makes you think he’s perfectly and astoundingly capable of doing it again. If he does, Bjoerndalen, who became the oldest gold medalist in the Winter Games, would break Bjorn Daehlie’s record for most medals won in Winter Olympic history.
“Life is too short to give up,” Bjoerndalen told the BBC. He hadn’t won an individual race in two years. “This is one of my most important victories.”
The unenviable task of trying to run down the 40-year-old goes to France’s Martin Fourcade and Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen, the 2013 world champion in the pursuit. Neither has won an Olympic medal in this event, but Fourcade was the 2011 and 2012 world champion, finishing second to Svendsen last year.
American Tim Burke, 13th in the 10-kilometer sprint, won World Cup bronze at this distance earlier this season. Biathlon is the only Winter Olympic sport in which the U.S. has not won a medal. Can Bjoerndalen let the Americans borrow one of his?
Gold: Martin Fourcade, France
Silver: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norway
Bronze: Emil Hegle Svendsen, Norway