Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Day 3 Winners and Losers
On Day 3 in Sochi, the curlers swept, the speedskaters sped and the lugers rocketed down the track in a bevy of stellar, albeit somewhat predictable, performances.
The U.S. women’s hockey team dominated, while American speedskaters disappeared. Meanwhile, the men’s 500-meter speedskating event lived up to its competitive hype in a stunning finish that included twin brothers gaining medals.
Take a look at the winners and losers from another power-packed day at Sochi.
Winner: Canadian Moguls Skiers
Canadians Mikael Kingsbury and Alex Bilodeau were picked to go one-two in the men's freestyle mogul.
Sure enough, they did—except it was Bilodeau, the gold-medal winner four years ago, who ended up with a repeat victory. The two have been a dominant force on the bumpy ski scene, and it came down to which one would be victorious in Sochi.
Bilodeau became the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion.
Alexandr Smyshlyaev of Russia beat out American hopeful Patrick Deneen and several others for the bronze.
Loser: USA Curling
The American curling teams better sharpen their brooms if they want to stay active in these Olympics.
Neither the men's nor the women's curling teams were able to muster much of an effort in the first round robin event.
The Norwegians swept the American men, 7-4.
Meanwhile, the women's team fell to the Swiss, 7-4.
Winner: Julia Mancuso
While a favorite in the packed women’s super-combined field, American Julia Mancuso flirted with gold and ended up on the podium with a bronze medal.
Mancuso entered the medal run with a lead over the field, but was eventually usurped by Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who won her second consecutive super combined gold medal. Austrian Nicole Hosp followed Hoefl-Riesch to take the silver medal.
Even without the gold in her hand, Mancuso was a big winner.
She beat out such stars as Tina Maze, Anna Fenninger and Elisabeth Goergl for her fourth career medal. She had won a silver in Vancouver in this hybrid contest that melds slalom and downhill skills.
Loser: J.R. Celski
In the 1,500-meter short-track speedskating event, J.R. Celski made his first Olympic start of 2014 and was edged out of a medal, finishing in fourth place. Two other Americans, Eddy Alvarez and Chris Creveling, were eliminated in the semis and the heats respectively.
But Celski, who got the bronze in 2010 at the age of 19, had much higher hopes in mind. He still has the 500, 1,000 and 5,000 relay to look forward to, though.
As expected, favorite Charles Hamelin of Canada took the gold, followed by Tianyu Han of China (China's first medal) and Victor An of Russia.
Loser: Switzerland Women's Hockey Team
The Swiss team just never had a chance against the more powerful U.S. team.
It was as if they were each playing a different game, as Switzerland fell behind 5-0 in the first period, ultimately losing by an embarrassing 9-0 score.
The Swiss attempted just 10 shots compared to the Americans' 53.
Loser: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen
Just two days after winning his 12th Olympic medal to tie the Winter Games record, the great biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen failed to capture a record 13th Olympic medal in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit.
Failed is a harsh word to use for such an accomplished Olympian, as he finished just a minuscule 1.7 seconds out of third place.
This will probably be the last Olympics for the celebrated 40-year-old Norwegian who is the ironman of his sport. He still has several opportunities to set the all-time Winter Olympics record for medals including the men's 4x7.5km and mixed relays and the 15k mass start and 20k individual races.
Winner: Erin Hamlin
American Erin Hamlin surprised the luge world by finishing in the top three after the first qualifying heat.
Hamlin is no stranger to world competition and was the highest-placed American luger in the 2010 Games, where she finished 16th. She also raced in Turin in 2006 and placed sixth.
Currently, two German women, Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner, are in front of her.
The finals take place Feb. 11 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Losers: Two Sliding Speedskaters
Speedskating can be very cold.
Just ask Australia's Daniel Greig and Dutchman Stefan Groothuis, both of whom stumbled in the men’s 500-meter long-track speedskating final.
Greig started out fast in the 500 meters, but was unable to keep his footing. Valiantly, he returned to his position and finished the race. He was also able to skate in the final heat.
To add insult to injury, his second run turned out strong, but by then, he was out of the running.
In the second heat, Groothuis locked up his toe on the ice and went sliding down the track.
It was an icy end to four years of hard work for both Olympians.
Winner: Finland Women's Hockey Team
It was a fight to the Finnish in women's hockey, as Olympic favorite Canada barely withstood the onslaught.
The upstart Finns dared to battle Canada to a scoreless draw for two-and-a-half periods before giving up three quick goals. The credit goes to Noora Raty, the Finns' tough goalie.
She was able to stop 39 shots and is proving to be among the best goalies at the Games.
Loser: U.S. Men's Long-Track Speedskaters
The Americans’ performance in the men's speed skating 500 meters can be summed up by superstar Shani Davis, who literally used the event as a warm-up to his upcoming long-distance events.
Davis finished 24th, followed by Tucker Fredricks in 26th and Mitchell Whitmore in 27th.
Brian Hansen took the smart way out and didn't compete in the second heat.
Maybe there is a Dutchman out there looking for a home in the U.S.
Winner: The Dutch Speedskaters
The announcers for the men's 500-meter long-track event might as well have been speaking Dutch.
In a truly exciting final heat, the lead kept changing hands with each new skating pair. Finally, the Dutch made it a clean sweep with Michel Mulder taking gold, Jan Smeekens taking silver and Ronald Mulder (Michel’s twin) winning the bronze.
The Winter Olympics version of the sprints was fast and furious with no telling who would win after the first heat. Remember, this is a sport where 0.01 on the clock can mean the difference between a medal and fourth place.
The Dutch trio pushed favorite and previous gold medalist Tae Bum Mo of Korea into fourth place.