The 2014 Winter Olympics medal race remains tight after an exciting Day 7.
Heading into Day 8, there is no breathing room for the countries on top of the Olympic leaderboard. Norway and the United States are tied for a leading 13 medals, all divided among identical variations of gold, silver and bronze.
Netherlands, Russia and the Netherlands all trail closely behind, but none of those five countries did anything to help their cause on Friday. None of them earned a first-place finish or multiple medals, leading the way for two underdogs to own the day.
Switzerland and Belarus pounced on the opportunity, climbing up the standings with two gold medals each.
The Winter Games are far from over in Sochi, but here is the current medal tally after the opening week.
Top Nations Stumble
The United States exited Day 7 with just one medal to its credit. Luckily for the Americans, most of the other nations atop the standings also faltered.
Canada and Russia also earned one medal apiece with no gold to show. Norway, the Netherlands and Germany were all shut out from the podium on Friday.
Norway relies heavily on cross-country success while the Dutch dominate long-track speedskating. Such a strong dependence on a singular sport lends itself to these dull, uneventful outings.
With no speedskating on the slate, the Dutch were doomed for a lackluster showing. Norway, on the other hand, had a chance to strut its stuff in the cross-country men's classic, but Chris Andre Jesperson earned its top finish, placing in sixth.
The 31-year-old's attire may ultimately make more noise than Norway's absence from the podium. He mocked the unusually warm weather by competing in shorts and a T-shirt, a rare sight in the Winter Olympics.
Despite the comfortable (yet inappropriate) weather, these nations will start feeling a shiver if they can't maintain their prime positions in the medal tally.
Switzerland Seizes the Day
Nobody else was stepping up, so Switzerland swooped in and scored three medals (two gold, one silver) on Friday.
In the men's cross-country skiing 15-kilometer classic, Dario Cologna won his third Olympic medal with a time of 38 minutes, 29.7 seconds—28.5 seconds faster than silver-medal winner Johan Olsson of Sweden.
He only held a slight lead at the eight-kilometer interval before swarming ahead of the pack and securing the runaway victory. Cologna, 27, also won the 30-kilometer skiathlon on Sunday, giving him two titles in Sochi.
Sandro Viletta earned a more surprising gold medal for Switzerland in the men's alpine skiing super combine. Ahead of favorites such as the U.S.'s Bode Miller, Viletta became the first Swiss man to win in a combined alpine event.
He placed 14th in the downhill earlier in the morning, forcing him to cap off a perfect slalom performance to have a chance at winning. He managed just that, accruing the second-fastest time of the event to sneak past Croatia's Ivica Kostelic.
"It's a moment I cannot believe," Viletta told USA Today Sports' David Leon Moore after his big win. "I knew after the downhill the slalom specialists were less than a second behind me. I knew I had to risk all. The slalom was just a perfect run for me."
Throw in a silver finish from Selina Gasparin in the women's biathlon 15-kilometer individual, and it was truly a day to remember for Switzerland. Now can they keep up the pace through the next week?
Belarus Breaks Out in Day 7
Belarus entered Day 7 with one medal throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics. Belarus left Day 7 with three medals won during the day.
It took awhile to get going, but Belarus caught fire on Friday, winning two gold medals and one bronze to emerge as the day's unlikely winner.
Picking up two medals in the women's biathlon 15-kilometer individual, Darya Domracheva earned gold, while Nadezhda Skardino claimed bronze.
Domracheva only missed one of 20 shots to win her second medal in Sochi; she also won the 10-kilometer pursuit on Tuesday. Skardino finished 13th in the pursuit and 17th in the sprint before earning third during her third event.
In the women's freestyle aerials, Alla Tsuper stunned the field with a 98.01 score that towered over silver-medalist Xu Mengtao's 83.50. The 34-year-old fended off Xu and reigning gold-medalist Lydia Lassila to procure a stunning victory for Belarus.
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