Sochi 2014 Results: Biggest Surprises and Disappointments from Day 3
The Sochi Games carried on Monday with an expansive slate of intriguing events. The Winter Olympics continue to supply plenty of subplots, as surprising developments pave the way for new storylines in the early stages of competition.
Day 3 unfolded with the emergence of fresh-faced stars, treacherous slopes and narrow medal misses.
We continue our daily survey of Olympic action with an examination of the unexpected, in victory and defeat.
Surprise: Twin Brothers Michel and Ronald Mulder Reach Medal Podium
Dutch identical twin brothers Michel and Ronald Mulder both qualified for spots in Sochi. On Monday, the standout siblings surged into rare territory while leading their country into the record books.
The Netherlands became the first nation ever to sweep in men's 500-meter speedskating, and both Mulders made it to the podium.
Michel claimed a gold medal in the final race of one of the Winter Olympics' most scintillating events. Ronald followed in third place, as national teammate Jan Smeekens finished between the brothers.
"It is a dream, of course, to come here, me and my twin brother," Michel Mulder told Associated Press reporter Paul Newberry (h/t Yahoo! Sports). "It would be the perfect scenario to be 1-2, but together on the podium is amazing."
ABC News notes United States twins Phil and Steve Mahre earned gold and silver medals, respectively, while competing against each other in men's slalom at the 1984 Sarajevo Games.
Disappointment: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen Falls Short in First Attempt at Record
Norwegian Olympic legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen had an opportunity to break the all-time Winter Games medal record on Monday. The 40-year-old attempted to earn his 13th career medal, competing in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit.
Bjoerndalen, who tied the record Saturday with a first-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint, settled for fourth place on Monday. He missed the podium by 1.7 seconds, as Jean Guillaume Beatrix (France) edged him out for bronze.
"The Cannibal" claimed his first Olympic medal at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. He has several opportunities to earn sole possession of the all-time medal record, including mixed relays and the 20-kilometer individual race.
Disappointment: Slalom Run Spells Doom in Women’s Super Combine
The road to Olympic glory isn't always smooth, as the women's super combined slalom proves. Icy stretches of the course cast aside several medal-seekers and slowed up American star Julia Mancuso just enough to drop her into third place.
Nine competitors failed to finish the intimidating slalom run.
Swiss skier Lara Gut ranked second prior to her ill-fated run. Lotte Smiseth Serjested (Norway), Elisabeth Goergl (Austria) and Francesca Marsaglia (Italy) each entered the slalom phase among the top nine but failed to complete the course.
Gut and Goergl each had excellent shots at the podium when they began competition but veered and could not complete the course.
"I saw the slalom slope and thought 'Okay, this is going to be a big challenge,'" German gold medalist Maria Hoefl-Riesch told Agence France-Presse after her victory (h/t ChannelNewsAsia.com).
Surprise: U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Tallies Record-Breaking Flurry of Goals
The U.S. women's hockey squad skated onto the ice as a strong favorite against Switzerland on Monday. The Americans provided a serious statement by pounding the Swiss team into oblivion en route to a 9-0 victory that turned heads due to its outright dominant fashion.
The avalanche began midway through the first period, when Team USA tallied three scores in a span of 55 seconds, setting a new Olympic record for fastest trio of goals. This game was never in doubt following the flurry.
Kendall Coyne, Amanda Kessel and Monique Lamoureux each netted a pair of goals. The U.S. led 5-0 at first intermission, every score occurring after the 9:20 mark of the opening period.
"I think we suck all the energy out of the other team," Kessel told Yahoo! Sports reporter Greg Wyshynski. "We just keep pounding them and pounding them."
The result was a resounding blowout win that sets the stage for Wednesday's showdown against Canada.
Disappointment: IOC Bans Sarah Burke Memorial Stickers
Iconic Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke passed away two years ago after suffering fatal injuries while training. She was at the forefront of an effort to land slopestyle and halfpipe skiing on the Sochi Games slate.
Members of the Olympic community attempted to cast a spotlight on her memory by wearing commemorative stickers during competition. On Monday, the International Olympic Committee released a statement that isn't likely to sit well with those impacted.
“She really needs to be well remembered, I think, and absolutely, we want to help the athletes to remember her in some way and there are all sorts of things we can do,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Globe and Mail reporter Paul Waldie. “From our side we would say that the competitions themselves, which are a place of celebration, are probably not the right place to really do that and we like to keep that separate”.
The IOC stood by its initial decision to ban the use of these stickers, instead encouraging Olympians to hold a press conference in her honor, according to CBS Sports writer Mike Singer. The committee's attempts to sustain uniformity has received instant reaction.
Austrian snowboarder Torah Bright responded on Instagram.
I am also [at the Olympics] to honor by great friend Sarah Burke who left this world two years ago. I ride with a Sarah sticker on my snowboard and helmet always. The IOC, however, considers Sarah stickers a “political statement” and have banned them. Sarah is a beautiful, talented, powerful woman whose spirit inspires me still. She is a big reason why skier pipe/slope are now Olympic events.
Disappointment: J.R. Celski Comes Up Empty in 1,500-Meter Speedskating
J.R. Celski has been pegged as the next American speedskating star, poised to take the torch from Apolo Anton Ohno as a star in the sport. After winning a bronze medal in the 1,500-meter race during the 2010 Vancouver Games, the 23-year-old arrived in Sochi with sky-high expectations.
He fell short in his first test Monday, missing out on a medal this time in the 1,500-meter event. Celski settled for fourth place, unable to start his latest Olympic endeavor with a career-building performance.
The task of filling Ohno's mighty big skates is something Celski doesn't take for granted. That makes his latest finish difficult to stomach.
“I am very happy to be in the position I am now. I looked up to [Ohno] for a long time,” Celski told The Columbus Dispatch reporter Beth Harris last week. “[The Sochi Olympic Games are] completely different for me mentally, physically, I’m healthy. I’m going to ride that momentum.”
That momentum encountered a road bump on Monday.
Surprise: Chinese Teenager Han Tianyu Takes Silver in 1,500-Meter Speedskate
Han Tianyu burst onto the global stage with a powerhouse performance in the 1,500-meter short-track speedskating race. The 17-year-old earned China's first medal of these Olympics with a second-place finish in a race that featured several seasoned star performers.
He trailed gold medalist Charles Hamelin, a heavy favorite from Canada, by 0.70 seconds. Han tied the country's all-time best result by a short-tracker in Olympic competition.
The youngster admitted to experiencing jitters prior to the most pivotal event of his life.
"Since it's my first Olympic Winter Games, I'm a little bit nervous and didn't think very much," he told ChinaDaily.com. "I had never thought I could make it to the finals, let alone stand on the podium."
Disappointment: 2010 Silver Medalist Nina Reithmayer Struggles in Singles Luge
Austrian Nina Reithmayer faltered Monday, placing 19th through two individual luge runs. She earned a silver medal in the event at the 2010 Vancouver Games but is buried in a serious hole halfway through the action in Sochi.
The final two runs take place Tuesday, ultimately determining who takes home medals. After her underwhelming opening performance, it appears Reithmayer will struggle to add to her Olympic trophy shelf.
Disappointment: Three-Time Defending Champ Canada Starts Slow Versus Finland
Canada currently has a stranglehold on women's Olympic hockey. The country has manufactured three straight gold medal teams since settling for silver in 1998.
The Canadians encounter Team USA on Wednesday in a long-awaited matchup. Unlike the Americans, Team Canada didn't dominate in its preceding game on Monday against Finland.
The contest remained locked in a scoreless stalemate until midway through the third period. Canada went on to win 3-0, but it has to be concerned about its offensive inefficiencies during the contest's first 50 minutes.
"I've never seen them celebrate as much as they celebrated that first goal," Finland goalie Noora Raty told Associated Press reporter Jimmy Golen after the game (h/t Yahoo! Sports). "That showed they were probably getting frustrated. We have never beaten Canada in our history, but this showed we are maybe closing the gap."