Saturday was huge in terms of boosting medal counts for the top countries in the 2014 Olympics, as seven events reached their conclusions in the wake of Day 8 of the Winter Games in Sochi. The overall medal count remains close—six countries are within three total medals of each other at the top of the standings.
Here's a look at how the medal count looks after Day 8 of Olympic action:
There are plenty of events left in the 2014 Olympics, and upon looking at how things stand right now, multiple countries are still in play to finish at the top.
Let's take a closer look at what transpired during Day 8 of the Olympic Games, at the medal winners from each event and at the top storylines that are set to take place on Day 9.
The Medal Count
Russia propelled itself to the top of the pack with 15 total medals on Saturday, as the country came away with both the gold and silver medals in the men's short-track speedskating 1,000-meter event. The host country furthered its lead, taking another gold medal in the men's skeleton.
The United States and Netherlands remain just one medal back, as each country has accumulated a total of 14.
It was a bit of a slow day for the United States, as it was only able to come away with a single bronze medal in the men's skeleton.
The Netherlands fared slightly better, earning a bronze medal in the men's short-track 1,000-meter event and a silver medal in the men's 1,500-meter event. The Dutch continue to showcase their prowess in speedskating.
Norway dropped down in the standings, as the country still sits with 13 medals after being unable to earn another on Day 8.
Day 8 Medal Results
Women's Alpine Skiing: Super-G
Austria continues to assert its dominance in the women's super-G event. Anna Fenninger took home the gold medal, and her teammate Nicole Hosp took the bronze. This was Fenninger's first medal in the 2014 Olympic Games—Hosp has now claimed two.
Austria's Anna Fenninger knocks Julia Mancuso off the medal stand in the super-G. Austria dominates this event.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) February 15, 2014
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch remained in top form, as she earned the silver medal in the event. She now has two medals in the Winter Games and has asserted herself as one of the world's best Alpine skiers.
The United States had an unfortunate showing, as Julia Mancuso failed to reach the podium and placed eighth with a time of 1 minute, 27.04 seconds.
Women's Cross-Country Skiing: 4x5-Kilometer Relay
Sweden came away with the gold medal here thanks to the valiant effort of Charlotte Kalla. Before this event took place, Kalla had already won two cross-country skiing silver medals in Sochi. She earned a gold on Saturday with a brilliant final leg, passing two skiers to earn the top spot.
Norway and Russia had upsetting results, as Russia led after the first leg but continued to fall behind after. Norway was the pre-race favorite but struggled throughout and failed to reach the podium.
Finland and Germany provided the fantastic finish. After racing for just over 53 minutes, the top three teams finished within one second of each other, blowing away the rest of the field.
This finish was one of the most epic of any event that took place on Day 8 of the 2014 Olympics.
Women's Short-Track Speedskating: 1,500-Meter Finals
|Silver||Suk Hee Shim||South Korea||2:19.239|
Yang Zhou of China successfully defended her Olympic gold medal on Saturday. She came out victorious in this event in 2010 in Vancouver and repeated that feat in Sochi.
Zhou had an impressive final five laps, as she took the lead and would not relinquish it, just edging out 17-year-old Suk Hee Shim of South Korea. Rounding out the podium was Italy's Arianna Fontana, who earned her second medal in this year's Olympics.
Jorien ter Mors just barely missed earning a medal, as she finished behind Fontana by just .24 seconds.
The United States was not favored to reach the podium, and Emily Scott faltered during her performance, finishing in fifth place with a time of 2:39.436.
Men's Short-Track Speedskating: 1,000-Meter Finals
Victor An won another gold medal in the 1,000-meter speedskating event; however, this time, he did it for another country. Earning the gold for South Korea in 2006, he did not participate in 2010 and found his way to Sochi as part of the Russian team.
This was a fine showing for Russia, as An's teammate Vladimir Grigorev took home the silver medal. The podium was rounded out by Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, who earned the bronze.
Once again, this was a disappointing finish for the United States, as J.R. Celski was a favorite to reach the podium. Unfortunately, he failed to reach the finals and finished in 13th place in the event.
|Bronze||Matthew Antoine||United States||3:47.26|
Russia continued to celebrate its stellar day on Saturday, as Alexander Tretjyakov earned the gold medal in the men's skeleton. A blazing 56.02-second fourth run paved the way for his first-place finish, as he bested Latvia's Martins Dukurs by .81 seconds.
For Team USA, this was the highlight of the day as medals were concerned. Matthew Antoine earned the bronze medal with a time of 3:47.26.
After the race, Antoine explained his strategy for the day to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, "We've had the philosophy all season that you don't have to be perfect to be fast. (Friday), I tried to be a little too perfect. Today, the goal was to let it flow more and let the sled run."
American John Daly looked to be in contention for the podium as well until his final run of the day. After a poor time of 58.54, his total time of 3:34.11 was only good enough for 15th place.
Men's Ski Jumping: Individual Large Hill
Poland's Kamil Stoch proved to be the most dominating athlete in the men's ski jumping events. He already earned a gold medal in the men's individual normal hill and took home another gold on Saturday after a great couple of runs in the individual large hill.
Stoch was just barely able to edge out Japan's Noriaki Kasai by a total of 1.3 points. Kasai is a seasoned veteran at the age of 41 and proved that he can still produce at such a high level despite being one of the older Olympians in Sochi.
Slovenia's Peter Prevc was consistent throughout the day and put together two solid runs to finish with the bronze medal.
Men's Speedskating: 1,500 Meters
Poland's Zbigniew Brodka successfully ended the Dutch's gold-medal run in speedskating. Brodka put together an impressive time of 1:45.006 in the 17th pairing. That was good enough to beat the Netherlands' Koen Verweij by just .003 seconds.
After completing his run in the 17th pairing, Brodka had to anxiously wait until the 20th—and final—pairing took place to learn that he won the gold medal.
Canada's Denny Morrison took home the bronze medal after posting a time of 1:45.22—just .22 seconds off the pace of Brodka and Verweij.
Did switching uniforms help U.S. speed skaters? Find out here (spoiler!): http://t.co/jzgpuVRR2j— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) February 15, 2014
In an ongoing Saturday trend, the United States once again failed to find the podium. Shani Davis figured to have the best shot in this event, but after a time of 1:45.98, he finished in 11th place. Brian Hansen was able to fare a bit better than Davis, as he posted a time of 1:45.59, but still only managed to finish in seventh place.
After changing suits before the race, Davis spoke about his unfortunate result with Paul Myerberg of USA Today, "I have the talent. I've done the work. I've made the sacrifices. I just couldn't quite get what I needed to get out of those things."
Top Day 9 Storylines
Team USA Needs to Get Back on Track in Men's Super-G
After only earning a single bronze medal in Day 8, the Americans find themselves in the thick of the overall medal race. Holding a total of 14 medals so far—just one behind Russia's 15—the United States needs to get something going.
It can do just that in the men's super-G on Sunday.
Team USA has a good chance to reach the podium here, as it has two very talented athletes participating in this event—Bode Miller and Ted Ligety.
The United States was unable to come away with any medals during the men's downhill and super-combined events after some disappointing performances.
I'll never stop pushing myself past my limits, but the mistakes that come with it are hard to swallow. #frustrationstation— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 14, 2014
Miller has won five medals over his career, including taking home the silver medal in the super-G during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. He is a 36-year-old veteran and has the poise and skill to right the ship and find the podium once again.
A miscalculation from Miller cost him precious time during the men's downhill, as he slammed into a gate panel in attempt to shave off a few feet of the course.
After Miller's run, head coach Sasha Rearick commented on Miller's decision during an interview with Bill Pennington of The New York Times: "He basically took the gate out. Sometimes it's faster; in that situation, it's not."
Ligety is another American who is a decorated Olympian. He won the gold medal in the super combined back in 2006 in Turin. He also took home three gold medals in the 2013 World Championships—one being in this event.
He did not appear to be in top form in earlier events in Sochi; however, the 29-year-old athlete certainly has what it takes to excel here.
Can Ole Einar Bjoerndalen Make Olympic History?
Norway has a knack for producing some of the best biathlon athletes in history. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is at the top of that list. Earlier in the 2014 Olympic Games, he pulled out an impressive time of 24:33.5 in the men's sprint 10-kilometer event.
That gold-medal performance earned him his 12th Olympic medal—tying him for the most all time with fellow countryman Bjorn Daehlie. If Bjoerndalen can reach the podium in the men's 15-kilometer mass start on Sunday, he will be the most decorated Olympian in the history of the Winter Games.
Bjoerndalen just barely missed out on achieving this feat, as the 40-year-old Olympian finished in fourth place in the men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit on Monday. He could not place once again in the men's 20-kilometer individual event, either.
After finishing the event, he spoke of the gold-medal winning, sharpshooting Martin Fourcade of France during an interview with EuroSport.com:
He is a fantastic athlete, he is so strong. I am happy for him, he is one of the best ever. He knows that if he misses a target at the last shooting he loses the title and yet he manages to shoot without even thinking about it. Nobody else can do that.
The humble Bjoerndalen will have his chance once again as he faces Fourcade on Sunday.
Lindsey Jacobellis Eyes Gold Medal in Women's Snowboard Cross
American Lindsey Jacobellis is looking for her first gold medal in the Winter Olympics. She is a 28-year-old veteran who currently has just one Olympic medal—a silver from the snowboard cross in 2006 in Turin.
Despite that lone Olympic medal, she can be considered a legend in this event. Jacobellis has earned eight gold medals in this event during the Winter X Games and three in the FIS Snowboarding World Championships.
After tearing an ACL during the X Games in 2012, she did not compete again for over 22 months. However, she came back in full force, winning her eighth gold medal in the 2014 Winter X Games in Aspen.
Lindsey Jacobellis wins her 8th career X Games gold medal (most by a female in X Games history), breaking tie with Fabiola da Silva.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 24, 2014
Now that she is fully healthy and in top form, she will be eyeing her first-ever Olympic gold medal on Sunday in Sochi.
Earlier in her career, Jacobellis considered retiring. However, she decided to rehab and attempt to gain Olympic glory once again. She explained her decision during an interview with Lori Riley and Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times:
I look back and say, if I ever won the gold in 2006, I probably wouldn't be in the sport. I was pushed so hard at a young age and didn't even realize that I loved it then. I know for a fact I love it now. Winning the gold [in Sochi] would actually make me look back more on my silver in 2006 and say, 'I'm glad I stuck with it and decided to do it because it made me the individual I am today.'
Jacobellis will get her chance on Sunday.