The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are in full swing, with a number of medals being awarded over the first four official days of competition.
In fact, Day 4 was the busiest thus far in terms of precious metals being doled out, with eight athletes from seven different sports earning gold medals in Sochi.
Don’t forget the runners-up who earned silver and the bronze medalists either, as their contributions are important in helping us decide which country will become the overall medal winner during these Games.
Let’s take a look at the latest tally and highlight the nations that have done best thus far in Sochi.
Top Medal Earners
Norway (Four Gold, 11 Total Medals)
The Norwegians are dominating the opening days of the 2014 Winter Olympics. With three gold medals in cross-country skiing and one in biathlon, this country is tied with Canada for the most podium tops in Sochi.
Norway may struggle a bit with many of the cross-country medal events out of the picture, but it has built a strong lead due to the silver and two bronze it also earned in those competitions.
The Scandinavian nation of five million people also has racked up a silver medal in snowboarding, plus bronze in Alpine skiing and ski jumping.
Some of the biggest stars from this country thus far are biathlon sprint gold medalist Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, country-country skiathlon gold medalist Marit Bjoergen, and Maiken Caspersen Falla and Ola Vigen Hattestad, who won the women’s and men’s cross-country skiing sprint events, respectively.
Perhaps the nation's rabid fans are a reason for this success, as Dmitry Chernyshenko—president and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee—noted that Norwegians tuning into the Olympics set records for the highest ratings in TV 2’s history:
No matter what the reasoning, Norway is going to be a tough country to ignore during the 2014 Winter Olympics and is making an early statement.
Canada (Four Gold, Nine Total Medals)
The Canadians rank second in medals right now and could be in the running for the most gold and overall when the Sochi Games are finished.
They pulled off the feat on their own turf four years ago, winning 14 gold and 26 total medals in Vancouver.
Canada has proved itself to be quite versatile, medaling in events ranging from snowboarding to figure skating.
It has topped the podium in the men’s and women’s moguls events, men’s short-track speedskating and women’s slopestyle skiing.
Canada has earned silver medals in men’s and women’s moguls, plus team figure skating, while bronze will be heading back to Canada for accomplishments in snowboarding and freestyle skiing.
Slopestyle skiing gold medalist Dara Howell was immensely happy with her accomplishments in Sochi, telling Rob Gloster and Christopher Spillane of Bloomberg: “That will go down in history, I am so proud. It’s huge for Canada. The hard work has paid off.”
Aside from Howell, Canada received major contributions from the Dufour-Lapointe sisters. Justine (19) captured first place in the women’s moguls, while older sister Chloe (22) came in just behind her in second.
Alex Bilodeau’s excellent runs for the men ensured a Canadian sweep of moguls, while Charles Hamelin dominated the men’s short-track 1,500-meter competition.
If Team Canada can continue its run of excellent play on the biggest of stages, it is assuredly going to be one of the main winners of the 2014 Winter Games.
Team USA Check-In
United States (Two Gold, Seven Total Medals)
America has to be a little disappointed about how it has fared thus far in Sochi. This powerhouse has been in position to medal on a number of occasions but ultimately has come up short more often than not.
With 230 athletes competing in 15 different disciplines, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the United States does not rank in the top three in terms of total medals and gold earned. However, if this stretch of failure continues, that awful scenario could be inevitable.
While Sage Kotsenburg surprised the world with his improbable victory in the first medal event of the Games, the men’s slopestyle snowboard finals, it hasn’t been smooth sailing since.
Jamie Anderson has been the only other American athlete to reach the top of the podium in Russia, winning the women’s slopestyle snowboard event. Devin Logan came close in the women’s slopestyle skiing competition but took home silver instead.
Erin Hamlin helped the United States to a bronze medal in women’s singles luge, while Julia Mancuso nabbed third in the women’s combined Alpine skiing event. Team USA’s skating representatives also combined for a bronze-worthy performance in the team competition.
Even massive favorites like Shaun White haven’t been fortunate in Sochi. The superstar snowboarder failed to become the first back-to-back-to-back halfpipe snowboard gold medalist, finishing in fourth after a tough run in the finals.
Hopefully the U.S. can iron out its issues with enough time to ascend the medal ladder in Sochi.
With Day 4 at a close, athletes from the United States and the rest of the world will head back to the Olympic Village to rest up and prepare for Wednesday’s activities.
There will be six medals on the line and some great opportunities for underachieving nations to make up some lost ground in events such as the ladies’ snowboard halfpipe, men’s 1,000-meter speedskating, luge doubles, pairs free skating and ladies’ downhill.
You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you tune in when Day 5 gets under way in Sochi early on Wednesday morning.