A total of 18 medals were handed out on Day 6 of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and it was a much better day for Team USA.
After two days of watching some of the best athletes in U.S. history like Shani Davis and Shaun White finish out of a medal spot, Thursday brought better success and saw the first podium sweep in men's skiing slopestyle.
As a result, Team USA is now firmly back in the medal count along with the other top countries in the Games.
Here is a look back at all of the Day 6 action and a breakdown of the results.
Note: All results via Sochi2014.com.
Biathlon: Men's Individual 20-Kilometer
|6||FRA||Jean Guillaume Beatrix||18:10:30||1||50:15.5|
|7||NOR||Emil Hegle Svendsen||18:04:30||1||50:30.3|
Martin Fourcade has already won a gold medal, but is single-handedly giving a boost to his French team with his consistency in the biathlon.
The win for Fourcade wasn't always a given throughout the event, but his finish was yet another predictable one for the Sochi superstar. Following his performance, Fourcade spoke about the thrilling win, according to Vincent Duluc for L'Equipe:
"I wanted to put suspense missing a bullet. It was a little bit rock n roll". Magnifique interview de Martin Fourcade sur la ZDF.— vincent duluc (@vincentduluc) February 13, 2014
The French athlete has already been sensational at the Olympics and has become a huge story in the sport. Finishing behind him, Erik Lesser won the first biathlon medal for the Germans and Evgeniy Garanichev won the bronze to add to Russia's medal count.
Cross-Country: Ladies' 10-Kilometer Classic
Justyna Kowalczyk not only won a gold medal for Poland, but she also claimed just the second medal overall for her country.
Following the win, Poland.gov's official Twitter account congratulated the Olympian on her hard-fought win:
Coming up just behind Kowalczyk were Sweden's Charlotte Kalla and Norway's Therese Johaug, who both finished over 19 seconds behind the Polish star.
Freestyle Skiing: Men's Slopestyle Final
For fans looking to see American success, it finally came in the form of three outstanding freestyle skiers who filled up the podium for Team USA.
Just a day after Devin Logan took home the silver medal in women's slopestyle, Joss Christensen led a pack of U.S. skiers who won all three medals in the men's slopestyle.
After the event, Christensen spoke about how his father, who passed away in August, inspired him during the win, per Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today:
I hope I made my father proud. He had been supporting me since day one, through all the injuries I had, which I know scare parents a lot. He always supported me and never said stop. I wish he was here, but I hope he's looking down and smiling.
It was a story not only of inspiration for Christensen but also of triumph for both Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper, who won the silver and bronze, respectively.
Along with Kenworthy winning the silver, he's also winning over the hearts of Americans, and PETA, by adopting stray dogs that would otherwise be killed, according to USA Today:
The podium sweep by all three further solidified Team USA's dominance in the slopestyle events in both snowboarding and skiing. Of the four events in both sports and genders, Americans took home three of four golds and six of the 12 total medals.
With the skiing halfpipe still to come, athletes like Maddie Bowman and David Wise—both 2014 X Games gold medalists in the event—will look to continue the U.S.'s rule over freestyle skiing.
Luge: Team Relay
|1||GER||Natalie Geisenberger, Felix Loch, Tobias Wendl, Tobias Arlt||2:45.649|
|2||RUS||Tatyana Ivanova, Albert Demchenko, Alexander Denisyev, Vladislav Antonov||2:46.679|
|3||LAT||Eliza Tiruma, Martins Rubenis, Andres Sics, Juris Sics||2:47.295|
|4||CAN||Alex Gough, Samuel Edney, Tristan Walker, Justin Snith||2:47.395|
|5||ITA||Sandra Gasparini, Armin Zoeggeler, Christian Oberstolz, Patrick Gruber||2:47.420|
|6||USA||Erin Hamlin, Christopher Mazdzer, Christian Niccum, Jayson Terdiman||2:47.555|
In the first ever luge team relay event, it was a familiar country sitting atop the podium.
The Germans controlled the luge events throughout the Olympics and have their crowning moment with their fourth of the Olympics as a team, as Eurosport reports:
LUGE: The German dream team of Geisenberger, Loch and Wendl/Arlt win gold in the team relay event. That's 4/4 golds for Germany in the luge.— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) February 13, 2014
The team relay event was never really in doubt for the Germans, who controlled the track all week en route to claiming all three individual medals. Put those members together on a four-member super team and you have one of the most dominant countries.
Outside of maybe the Netherlands in speedskating or the Russians in figure skating thus far, the German luge team might be one of the best in a single sport.
Short-Track Speedskating: Ladies' 500-Meter
|6||NED||Jorien Ter Mors||43.572|
Jianrou Li of China was a long shot just to get into the 500-meter final, but with her teammate taking a tumble in the semifinal she got a second chance.
Ironically enough, the final went the same way for Li as she went from the back of the pack to the front as the entire group took a spill, earning her the gold medal.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports gives an account of the incident:
China's Jianrou Li just was in last place in the 500m speed skating final & won gold after everyone in front of her wipes out. What a sport.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) February 13, 2014
The win gave China its first gold of the Winter Olympics and the second overall medal for the country. While it was the first gold medal of the day for the Chinese, it certainly wouldn't be the last.
A slightly more deserving speedskater would be crowned later in the day.
Speedskating: Ladies' 1,000-meter
|5||NED||Lotte Van Beek||1:15.10|
China's dominance on the ice continued on Thursday morning as Hong Zhang surprised the entire field by giving the strongest run of the day early on in the event.
The win gave China its first ever gold medal in long-track speedskating, as Infostrada Sports notes:
#Sochi2014 ZhangHong (CHN) won China's first Olympic gold medal in speed skating. This was China's 7th total medal in this sport.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaGold) February 13, 2014
Just behind Zhang were Irene Wust and Margot Boer, both from the Netherlands. With their two medals, the Dutch now have 12 medals in the sport, accounting for all of their total hardware in the Winter Olympics thus far.
But the biggest surprise once again was the failure of Team USA to medal in the speedskating events. Both Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe came in as heavy favorites to reach the podium, but came well short of their mark, as Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post reports:
Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe do NOT medal in the 1,000m speed skating. 7th and 8th. #Sochi2014— Sally Jenkins (@sallyjenx) February 13, 2014
Several events still remain in the Winter Olympics in the long-track speedskating portion of the Olympics, but the best is likely behind the Americans. Richardson's best event in the Games was expected to be the 1,000-meter, as was the case for Shani Davis, who lost in the event on Day 5.
With Davis earning a silver in the 1,500-meter in both 2006 and 2010, not all hope is lost. But the Americans have a lot of work to do to catch up with the Dutch on the ice if they plan to medal.
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