Day 3 of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, is in the books, and it was yet another day of quality action that saw the usual suspects battling at the top of the medal leaderboards.
The biggest winner of the day was the Netherlands, which grabbed three medals as its athletes swept the men's 500-meter speedskating event. France also finally got in on the action with its first two medals of the Games, both of which came on the same podium.
After Day 3, it is still impossible to tell how things will end up, but clear contenders are beginning to emerge at the top of the standings.
Women's Super Combined Slalom
The competition was fierce at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center in the women's slalom and featured an epic comeback by Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
Hoefl-Riesch stormed back from fifth place after the first run to win gold and posted a 2:34.62 total. That tally was a full 40 seconds ahead of silver medalist Nicole Hosp of Austria and a full 53 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Julia Mancuso of the United States.
The results are in no way a surprise. Hoefl-Riesch was the defending champ and is expected by most to be a serious contender for five medals this year.
The same goes for Mancuso, who now has four Olympic medals, which is more than any other American woman skier, including Lindsey Vonn, as ESPN's Paul Carr points out:
“To be honest, I thought I was blowing it in slalom,” Mancuso said. “But I knew to just fight to the finish, because you have no idea.”
As Charles Robinson of Yahoo! points out, the performance bodes well for Mancuso's fortunes in upcoming events:
Men's 1,500-Meter Short-Track Event
|7||GBR||Jack Whelbourne||No Time|
After Germany edged up into the top five on the medals table thanks to Hoefl-Riesch, Canada got a boost to remain on top of the board with a gold medal from Charles Hamelin in the 1,500-meter event.
It was merely business as usual for Hamelin, who is in the midst of another strong World Cup circuit. With his four career medals, he is on pace to become the most decorated Canadian Olympian ever.
Hamelin posted a 2:14.985 mark, which just barely allowed him to edge past China's Tianyu Han (2:15.055 for silver) and Russia's Victor An (2:15.062 for bronze).
Perhaps most notably, the United States' big-name star J.R. Celski finished just off the podium in fourth with a 2:15.624 time.
Men's 12.5-km Pursuit
|Rank||Country||Name||Start Behind||Shooting||Total Penalties||Time||Behind|
|3||FRA||Jean Guillaume Beatrix||0:39||0+0+1+0||1||34:12.8||+24.2|
|4||NOR||Ole Einar Bjoerndalen||0:00||0+1+1+1||3||34:14.5||+25.9|
|7||NOR||Emil Hegle Svendsen||0:29||0+1+0+0||1||34:28.8||+40.2|
Martin Fourcade blew away the competition to finally put France on the map at the 2014 Games.
He was not alone.
Fourcade missed just one shot on his impressive run that saw him total 33:48.6, a time more than 14 seconds better than the next competitor on the list. Fellow countryman Jean Guillaume Beatrix helped France score another medal with his 34:12.8 bronze performance.
After a disappointing eighth-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint, Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic redeemed himself by once again being flawless with his rifle and posting a 34:02.7 mark to secure the silver medal.
The biggest story was Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who started the race first after his triumph in the 10-kilometer sprint. His hunt for a record 13th medal at the age of 40 was cut short by a stunning three shooting misses and a 34:14.5 time—which left him 1.7 seconds away from a bronze medal.