Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA Highlights for Day 9

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterFebruary 16, 2014

Getty Images

It's a tight battle at the top of the medal count, as the Cold War duo of the United States and Russia compete for the top spot, just a smidgen ahead of traditional Olympics powerhouse Norway and a single medal behind the Netherlands. As the closing ceremony approaches, every event, each individual battle, becomes paramount in the overall war.

No pressure!

Sunday was another interesting day for Team USA. Aren't they all? Some were redeemed. Some fell short once again. One scored a hat trick!

Who owned the day for Team USA? Let's hand out some superlatives.


Most Unlikely Medalist

While all the media attention was on Ted Ligety and good old Bode Miller, 2010 Super-G bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht was lurking on the margins. Of course, there was good reason for that. He hadn't finished in the top nine in any event since winning his medal in Vancouver.

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Until Sunday. That's him on the left of gold medalist Kjetil Jansrud of Norway. On the right is Miller. Not a bad haul for Team USA.


Most Unlikely Medal Failure

Andy Wong/Associated Press

Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis has walked out of the X-Games as the snowboardcross champion eight times.

No such luck in the Olympics, where it has been a case of diminishing returns. She was second in 2006, fifth in 2010 and fell to the ground on Sunday in the semifinals and eventually finished seventh.

“I don’t think it has to do with the Olympics,” Jacobellis told The New York Times. “It’s just on a fluke of when things work out for me and when they don’t. “

She's undoubtedly the best women's snowboarder of her generation. But when Olympics history is written, she won't warrant a page. At 28, this may have been the last chance for Jacobellis. 


Best Hat (Trick)

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 16: Phil Kessel #81 of the United States shoots against Luka Gracnar #40 of Slovenia in the third period during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day nine of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on F
Martin Rose/Getty Images

According to Bloomberg, the lines for hats and other souvenirs at the Sochi Games often stretch for blocks and take hours to navigate.  Does that makes Phil Kessel's hat trick, pulled off in just over 30 minutes, more impressive? 

Probably not.

But kudos to Kessel. Either way, he led the US to a 5-1 victory. He and the team have earned their days off. The qualification round begins on Tuesday.


Best Outfit Coordination

The professional designers involved in the ice dancing event took a back seat Sunday to announcers Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. His headband, resembling a tiara, and her comparatively understated splash of green stole the show. 


Better than that, their technical analysis breathed new life into an event that can often be inscrutable to the untrained eye. The Olympics have a new first couple. Long may they reign.


So Close, Yet So Far Award

Morry Gash/Associated Press

The women's curling team has been a complete bust in Sochi. But a win over the powerhouse Canadians would have at least sent them home on a high note. For 10 ends, it looked like destiny, especially after Canadian skip Jennifer Jones missed an easy shot at the end of regulation.

The lowly Americans would, it seemed, triumph over their undefeated northern neighbors. Momentum was on their side at the very least. Then, in the final throw of the match, in an extra frame, Jones stole victory from the jaws of defeat. Her stone left the Americans in a familiar role—that of the loser.


Greatness. Just Pure Greatness

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

What else can you say about Meryl Davis and Charlie White? The American ice dancing team broke their own record, scoring a 78.89 to take a commanding lead going into the long dance next week. 

"Just perfection," commentator Johnny Weir said, for once at a loss for words. White and Davis are looking to unseat Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, the second-place team who beat them for gold in 2010.