Day 4 of the 2014 Winter Olympics belonged to Norway.
Thanks to impressive performances in cross-country skiing, the Norwegians grabbed four medals from Sochi on Tuesday, including gold-medal performances by Maiken Caspersen Falla (ladies' cross-country sprint) and Ola Vigen Hattestad (men's cross-country sprint).
Germany wasn't far behind, earning gold from Natalie Geisenberger in the ladies' individual luge and Carina Vogt in the inaugural ladies' ski jump on their way to three medals for the day.
The United States, Slovenia, Canada, Sweden and Japan all finished Tuesday with two medals, but it wasn't enough for anyone to catch Norway, who continue to lead the overall medal table.
Here's a look at Day 4's complete podium results, courtesy of Sochi2014.com, as well an updated medal tally:
|Women's 10-km Pursuit||Darya Domracheva (Belarus)||Tora Berger (Norway)||Teja Gregorin (Slovenia)|
|Ladies' Cross-Country Sprint||Maiken Caspersen Falla (Norway)||Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (Norway)||Vesna Fabjan (Slovenia)|
|Men's Cross-Country Sprint||Ola Vigen Hattestad (Norway)||Teodor Peterson (Sweden)||Emil Joensson (Sweden)|
|Ladies' Ski Slopestyle||Dara Howell (Canada)||Devin Logan (USA)||Kim Lamarre (Canada)|
|Women's Singles Luge||Natalie Geisenberger (Germany)||Tatjana Huefner (Germany)||Erin Hamlin (Bronze)|
|Ladies' Ski Jumping||Carina Vogt (Germany)||Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (Austria)||Coline Mattel (France)|
|Men's Halfpipe||Iouri Podladtchikov (Switzerland)||Ayumu Hirano (Japan)||Taku Hiraoka (Japan)|
|Ladies' 500M Speedskating||Sang Hwa Lee (South Korea)||Olga Fatkulina (Russia)||Margot Boer (Netherlands)|
Shaun White Misses the Podium
American Shaun White set out to make history. After taking gold in the men's halfpipe in Turin and Vancouver, he had a chance to become the first male American to win gold in the same event in three consecutive Winter Games.
Not only did he miss out on gold on Tuesday, but the 27-year-old also fell short of a medal completely.
Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov, who was born in Russia, scored a 94.75 on his final attempt to end the USA's run of three straight gold medals in this event (Ross Powers preceded White with a win in 2002).
Japanese teenagers Ayumu Hirano (93.50) and Taku Hiraoka (92.25) won silver and bronze, as White fell twice during his first final run and wasn't perfectly clean during his second, falling to fourth with a 90.25.
The results, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, marked two firsts:
Iouri Podladtchikov gold, Ayumu Hirano silver, Taku Hiraoka bronze. No American medals for first time ever.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 11, 2014
This is the first time ever a non-American has beaten Shaun White. Only Danny Davis, Greg Bretz, Kevin Pearce and Mason Aguirre had.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 11, 2014
Afterward, White, who had the highest score of the day with a massive 95.75 during qualification, talked about his disappointment and future plans, via BBC's Nick Hope and Passan:
"It's tough I really wanted to win tonight but it wasn't my night," snowboard legend Shaun White on BBC 5 Radio Live. pic.twitter.com/dWHBkhubl1— Nick Hope (@NickHopeBBC) February 11, 2014
Shaun White: "I need a little break from snowboarding for a while." Says he's going to go on tour with his band.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 11, 2014
Although he's taking a break, you can rest assured that disappointment won't be his Olympic swan song. Before Sochi, White made it clear, via USA Today's Rachel Axon, that he'll be back in 2018 for the South Korea Games:
I'm feeling great. It's been funny because there's been a lot of rumors going around that I'm going to be done or something after this. (Coach) Bud (Keene) and I are very excited about Korea and the next Olympics, so I'm not really going anywhere.
The Other Big Upset
Sara Takanashi was supposed to become the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in the women's ski jump (normal hill). The 17-year-old won silver in the event at the 2013 World Championships, entered ranked No. 1 in the World Cup standings and has been the sports' transcendent athlete for much of the year.
Much like White, though, she didn't even finish with a medal.
Vogt took home gold on the event's final jump, pushing Daniela Iraschko-Stolz to silver, Coline Mattel to bronze and Takanashi to fourth.
The 22-year-old German was understandably ecstatic with her thrilling win:
American Sarah Hendrickson, who beat Takanashi for gold at last year's World Championships but was dealing with a significant knee injury, fell to 21st place.
She wasn't about to let that get her down, though:
Ya I didn't win a medal... you can judge me all you want but you'll never know how hard I worked to jump compete today as an Olympian.— Sarah Hendrickson (@schendrickson) February 11, 2014
It's Not All About Medals
In what was basically a scene out of a movie—such as Cool Runnings just without the Jamaican bobsled team—Russian's Anton Gafarov crashed and broke a ski during the semifinals of the men's cross-country sprint but was determined to finish the race.
At first, that looked like it was going to be impossible. Because he only had one working ski, Gafarov fell a second time coming down the final hill. In a word, it was heartbreaking.
But Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth eventually rushed to Gafarov's rescue, providing him with a new ski to get to the finish line.
You can take a look at the video of the touching moment right here, courtesy of NBCOlympics.com.
This was the epitome of Olympic spirit, as well as a good example why these Games are about so much more than just medals. They are about competition, determination, pride for one's country and respect for others.
Day 5 of the Olympics gets started with more curling round-robin action before seven more gold medals will be handed out. The medal events on Wednesday include women's downhill skiing, women's halfpipe and men's 1,000-meter speedskating.