Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Biggest Surprises from Day 5
Events largely held form on Day 5 of the Sochi Games, with the favorite coming out on top in most cases. In some events, however, the favorites didn't live up, including Germany's beast-mode alpinist, Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
Many of these athletes had already competed in an event or two, which gave them a chance to shake off the Olympic jitters. But since the Games come along just once every 1,460 days, the pressure is ratcheted up no matter how many training sessions or dazzling qualifying runs an athlete strings together.
Carry on to see Day 5's shocking developments.
A-Maze-ing Double Gold
For the first time in 78 years of Olympic alpine skiing, two golds were awarded in the women's downhill. Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland tied with a time of 1:41.57. There was no silver, just two golds for Maze and Gisin and a bronze to Lara Gut, also of Switzerland.
Gisin was the more unlikely of the two to snag the gold. She has never won a World Championship medal and crashed at the 2010 Olympics, so this win was particularly poignant.
"It's the story of my career," Gisin told reporters afterward. "Up, down, forward, backward. Every little tiny bit, I (fought) for, and it makes me proud that finally I made it to the top."
The next athlete's career has been mostly ups, but not in this year's downhill.
Hoefl-Reisch and Mancuso Fall from Grace
While Maze and Gisin celebrated their double golds, the world's No. 1 skier, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, wasn't nearly as fortunate, finishing 13th in the women's downhill. Considering the gold she won in the super combined earlier in the week, her precipitous fall out of the top 10 in the downhill was unexpected, to say the least.
Julia Mancuso of the United States was a favorite to medal as well, especially after trumping all other competitors in the downhill chapter of the super combined (where she ultimately won bronze). Instead, Mancuso finished the downhill in eighth place, more than a full second off the podium.
No one expected the pair to be so far out of contention.
Shani Davis Misses the Podium
Speedskater Shani Davis of the United States was the two-time defending champion in the 1,000 meters, so he seemed to be a strong contender for gold and, at the very least, a medal.
He won neither, slipping all the way to eighth as Stefan Groothius of the Netherlands won the gold medal. Canada's Denny Morrison won the silver while Michel Mulder of the Netherlands took bronze, his second medal of the games.
Davis has another shot at an individual medal in the 1,500 meters on Saturday, where he won silver in the Turin and Vancouver Games. He needs this after sour performances—by his standards—in the 500 and 1,000 meters.
No 'Gold' for USA
Arielle Gold of the United States was a medal contender in the women's halfpipe. Emphasis on was. Gold withdrew from the competition after suffering a shoulder injury during a practice run.
Gold's teammate, Kaitlyn Farrington, told USA Today, "It's definitely a bummer to see Arielle get hurt because she's such a strong rider. I would have loved to see her there with us tonight."
After initially being put on a stretcher, she did walk off under her own power, per The Associated Press. Being 21 entering the next Olympics will give her the right mix of youth and experience that will make her a threat—and possibly a favorite—to take down Farrington, her teammate and gold medalist, in 2018.
Castelli and Shnapir's Strong Salchow
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the United States held first place with eight pairs left to skate in the pairs free skate. Their near-completion of the quadruple salchow throw would have made them the stuff of legend.
They didn't land it, but seeing them toward the top of the leaderboard was a warm surprise. In the end, they slid to ninth as three Russian pairs, two Canadian pairs, two Chinese pairs and one German pair eclipsed them.
Here's what a quadruple salchow looks like, the near-silver lining to an otherwise great effort.
If you think what this U.S. duo did was a shock, wait till you see what happened during the women's halfpipe.
Look on the 'Bright' Side
Australia's Torah Bright and American Kelly Clark were among the gold-medal favorites heading into the women's halfpipe. Both crashed on their first runs to give them scores of 58.25 and 48.25, respectively.
Given those first runs, it could've been much, much worse. To get up into medal contention, they needed to bear down and nail their final runs. That put immense pressure on the duo, but they rebounded to snag the silver and the bronze, which the opened the door for...
Kaitlyn Farrington Golden
Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States remained steady through Runs 1 and 2 and came away with a score of 91.75 and a gold medal. Farrington edged Bright—the defending Olympic gold medalist—by .25 points.
During qualification, Farrington wiped out on her first run, then scored an 87.0 on her second. She tallied an 87.50 on her best run in the semis, which set her up for her charge at the podium in the final.
Bright was heavily favored to win this event, but a crash on her first run put the onus on her second. She came very close, but ultimately Farrington's steady performance allowed her to eclipse the Aussie by just enough to secure gold.
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