Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Biggest Surprises from Day 9
Day 9 at the Sochi Games only had four medaling events, which normally makes for lean storylines. Despite that, there were still some hiccups and competitions well-seasoned with the unexpected, especially in the men's super-G.
The Russian two-man bobsled team set a track record on the first day of their competition on their first run, no less.
And leave it to Lindsey Jacobellis, once the American darling of snowboarding cross, to see her dreams of an Olympic gold literally come crashing down in a puff of snow.
Keep on sliding through the show to bone up on the biggest surprises from Sunday in Sochi.
Miller and Hudec Win Double Bronze in Men's Super-G
Bode Miller of the United States and Jan Hudec of Canada blitzed down the mountain in the men's super-G in the same exact time of 1:18.67.
At 36, Miller became the oldest athlete ever to medal in Alpine skiing at the Olympics. He didn't live up to his past form in the super combined and downhill, yet on the super-G, he put together a burning run to share the podium.
Miller told USA Today:
To be on the podium, this is a really big day for me. Emotionally, I had a lot riding on it. Even though I didn't ski my best — a lot of mistakes — I'm just super, super happy. I always feel like I'm capable of winning medals. But as you've seen in these Olympics, it's not that easy. On a given day, there are so many guys.
Jacobellis Falls in Snowboard Cross Semifinal
In the world of snowboard cross, one name stands very tall: Lindsey Jacobellis. She's an eight-time winner of the X-Games cross, a three-time World Champion and a silver medalist in the Torino Games (should have been gold).
In this year's semifinal, Jacobellis crashed on a routine part of the track, a fluke as she called it. She was set to win her heat and advance to the big final for a shot at an elusive gold medal. Instead, she was relegated to the small final, a consolation. Yes, she won the small final, but officially, that doesn't count for anything.
At age 20, she saw the gold medal fall through her hands. At 24 years old, she finished fifth. In her third games, she was assured of a spot in the big final until she hit the earth and was forced to watch the field all go by.
Weibrecht Wins Silver in Super-G
While Bode Miller stole headlines by tying for the bronze medal in the men's super-G, it was Andrew Weibrecht who upstaged him on the slopes by winning the silver medal in a time of 1:18.44, just 0.30 seconds behind the gold medalist, Norway's Kjetl Jansrud.
Weibrecht hasn't been the steadiest of skiers for the United States, though he does manage to show up on the biggest stages. In this year's World Championships, he was 22nd in the downhill and earned a big, fat, hairy DNF in the super-G. Yet in the Vancouver Games, he won bronze in the same event.
So when Weibrecht, the 88th-ranked skier in the world rankings, took silver, perhaps no one believed it but himself.
"I knew I had skied well," he said. "I knew I had a good run. When I came to the finish, I just sort of appreciated my run. I took a couple of seconds to see the time. I saw '2,' then I looked away, and then I looked again. It's been a rough couple of years. This makes up for it."
Kessel's Hat Trick First for U.S. Since 2002
Phil Kessel, forward for Team USA and the Toronto Maple Leafs, scored a hat trick in his team's 5-1 victory over Slovenia.
It was the first hat trick recorded since 2002 when John LeClaire netted one against Finland in the Salt Lake City Games. In 12:56 of ice time against Slovenia, Kessel scored his three goals from four shots on net.
The win gave the United States its third, tops in Group A, allowing them to bye straight into the quarterfinals.
Russian Two-Man Bobsled off to a Commanding Lead
It's no longer tight at the top of the men's two-man bobsled with the Russians practically check-mating the Swiss and the Americans during Heats 1 and 2 on Sunday. The Russian team of Alexander Zubkov and Alexi Voevoda have what is essentially a 50-yard head start in a 100-meter dash.
Zubkov and Voevoda have a 0.32-second lead over the Swiss and a 0.36-second lead over the American team of Steve Holcomb and Steven Langton. The Russians set a track record on their first run in a time of 56.25, traveling at a peak speed of 133.7 kilometers per hour. Translated into American, that's Vin Diesel-fast.
Scrolling through the top 10 finishers, most are separated by mere hundredths of seconds, not entire tenths.
Zubkov and Voevoda were expected to be a threat to medal having earned a bronze medal back in Vancouver and a World Championship in 2011, but to have this much of a lead illustrates that the Russians truly have a home-court advantage.
Heats 3 and 4 begin Monday and—barring a crash—these two look unbeatable.
Aksel Lund Svindal Still Empty Handed
Yes, the man who "most of the time travels the world in spandex trying to be fast", has been, by his standards, far too slow in the Sochi Games.
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, the world's No. 2 skier, is still without a medal in these games. He finished seventh in the super-G, an event he won the gold medal in four years ago in Vancouver. He won three medals in those Vancouver Games, but in Sochi, he efforts have been far from, well, Svindalian.
He was one of the favorites in the super combined and the downhill and finished 12th and fourth, respectively. He has the giant slalom and slalom next, his final shots at medals. At least his teammate, Kjetil Jansrud, came through for Norway.
"These Olympics have not been the way I wanted. No medals.." Svindal tweeted. "Haven't been good enough. But I'm blessed with awesome teammates. Thanks Kjetil!"
Canada Needs OT to Beat Finland
Canada, considered to be the odds-on favorite to win the gold medal in ice hockey, needed more than 60 minutes of hockey to defeat Finland, 2-1, Sunday.
Drew Doughty scored 2:32 into overtime to keep his team unbeaten heading into the elimination round. The win gives Canada a bye into the quarterfinals.
Canada dominated the scoresheet, nearly out-shooting the Finns 2:1, 27-15.
Russians Need Yet Another Shootout
Team Russia needed a shootout to beat the Americans and lost. It needed yet another shootout to get by Slovakia and came out on top, 1-0.
Slovakia is the weakest team Group A and Russia was all out just to one-up them. The thrilling game against the Americans likely took some of the stuffing out of the Russian team, but they were still able to secure a much-needed win against the Slovaks.
Russia may have to play an elimination game to reach the quarterfinals.
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