Day 9 of the 2014 Winter Olympics was marked by breakthroughs and significant upsets. With eight sports and four medal events, the action was a little lighter than the past few days. Nevertheless, a new medal leader emerged, and the table is more crowded than ever:
Even with less action, it's still hard to keep track of everything going on. For that, here is your one-stop shop for all the results from Sunday's action, as well as analysis for each event.
Alpine Skiing: Men's Super-G
|Bronze (tie)||Jan Hudec||Canada|
|Bronze (tie)||Bode Miller||USA|
Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller ended the American skiing drought with silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the super-G competition. Norway's Kjetil Jansrud took home gold with a time of 1 minute, 18.14 seconds.
Weibrecht's silver medal was particularly unlikely. The 28-year-old has just two career top-10 finishes on the World Cup circuit, and though he took bronze in this event at the Vancouver Olympics, injuries have beset his career since.
But as Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post notes, Sunday's result provides validation for Weibrecht's tumultuous career:
There’s so many times that you can get kicked before you start to really feel it, Weibrecht said. I try not to focus on results, but I really needed a result to remind me that, more than anything, that I’m capable of this and that I belong here.
This is probably the most emotional day of ski racing I’ve ever had, Weibrecht said. All the issues and troubles that I’ve had, to come and be able to have a really strong result, it reminds me that all the work that I did to come back from the injuries, and just kind of dealing with it through all the hard times, that’s all worth it.
The bronze was also Miller's sixth career Winter Olympics medal, and his first of the Sochi games. Miller actually tied with Canada's Jan Hudec for third, but at this point, the 36-year-old has to be happy with salvaging something out of a tough fortnight.
Men's Round Robin
|Canada vs. China||CAN, 9-8|
|Norway vs. Great Britain||NOR, 7-6|
|Denmark vs. Germany||DEN, 6-3|
|Norway vs. Switzerland||NOR, 5-3|
|Sweden vs. Russia||SWE, 8-4|
|Canada vs. USA||CAN, 8-6|
|Sweden vs. USA||SWE, 6-4|
Canada and Sweden became the first two countries to qualify for the semifinals in the round-robin portion of the men's curling tournament.
Canadian skip Brad Jacobs won his fifth match in a row, defeating the United States by an 8-6 score to clinch advancement for his country. Despite the win, Jacobs was not entirely satisfied with his performance, according to the Canadian Press via The Globe and Mail:
“We played all right, definitely not our best, but it’s still good to get the win knowing that we didn’t put our best performance together,” said Jacobs.
The Canadians had the chance to put the match away in the eighth end, but Jacobs missed his hammer shot, allowing the Americans to go ahead 6-5.
“I was very unhappy I missed it, it was a big shot and we almost put the game away,” said Jacobs. “It was for a four and it just took a little move. We missed a line call and it just wicked the guard.”
Sweden defeated Russia 8-4 and the United States 6-4 to up their record to 8-1, tops in the standings and a game ahead of Canada. The battle for the final two spots will come down to three teams—China sits at 6-2 and needs just a single win to clinch, while Norway and Great Britain are both at 5-3.
Women's Round Robin
|Denmark vs. South Korea||DEN, 7-4|
|Japan vs. Switzerland||JPN, 9-7|
|Sweden vs. Russia||SWE, 5-4|
|Canada vs. USA||CAN, 7-6|
It's a similar story on the women's side, as Sweden and Canada are through to the semifinals. Canada eeked out a 7-6 win over the U.S. to remain undefeated at 8-0, while the Swedes beat Russia 5-4 to improve to 6-2, good for second in the round-robin standings.
The most consequential match was Japan's 9-7 win over Switzerland. Not only did skip Ayumi Ogasawara keep her country alive, but there are also now six teams mathematically alive for the last two semifinal spots. Great Britain and China currently sit in those two spots with matching 4-3 records.
Tomorrow marks the conclusion of the round-robin play for both the men's and women's competitions, with semifinal matches commencing on Wednesday.
Figure Skating: Mixed Ice Dance
|1||Meryl Davis and Charlie White||78.89||USA|
|2||Tess Virtue and Scott Noir||76.33||CAN|
|3||Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov||73.04||RUS|
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White were again in brilliant form on the first day of the ice dancing finals, putting up a score of 78.89 to hold the lead:
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White dazzle in the ice dancing short performance and lead the pack by 2.5 points http://t.co/Jm9nAKMC13— Post Sports (@PostSports) February 16, 2014
The pair that has awed and inspired much of the country even admitted being a little shocked at how well they performed, as Davis described the experience as "surreal," according to the USA Today's Nancy Armour.
In second place are their Canadian rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Virtue and Moir have a difficult hill to climb, and while they appear a mortal lock for silver at worst, it appears highly unlikely they will erase the deficit unless catastrophe befalls the American pair.
The race for bronze is much tighter, with the Russian pair of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov sitting less than three-tenths of a point ahead of France's Fabian Bourzat and Nathalie Pechalat.
Men's Preliminary Round
|USA vs. Slovenia||USA, 5-1|
|Russia vs. Slovakia||RUS, 1-0|
|Austria vs. Norway||AUT, 3-1|
|Canada vs. Finland||CAN, 2-1|
The preliminary round of the men's hockey tournament is over, with a 12-team single-elimination tournament set to begin on Tuesday.
The American men clinched the second seed with their 5-1 romp over Slovenia, led by Phil Kessel's hat trick. Kessel now leads the tournament with four goals; combined with his streak of 10 goals in 11 games before the Olympic break, his Toronto teammate knows the Maple Leaf is on a roll:
James van Riemsdyk on what the goal is when you play with Phil Kessel: "Just get him the puck." And then let him do his thing.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 16, 2014
Elsewhere, Russia experienced a letdown following its gut-wrenching shootout loss to the Americans, needing a shootout to prevail 1-0 over winless Slovakia. The fifth-seeded Russians will need to win four games over six days to win the gold on their home ice, a mission that will begin against Norway in the qualifying round.
Canada and Finland also played an excellent overtime contest, with Drew Doughty tallying both the opening goal and the overtime winner to give the Canadians a 2-1 win. Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask kept the Fins in the game with 25 saves, including numerous timely ones when Canada dominated the third period possession, but Finland will now enter the knockout round as a fourth seed.
The top four teams that earned byes were Sweden, USA, Canada and Finland. Tuesday's qualifying-round matchups will be Russia against Norway, Switzerland against Latvia, Czech Republic against Slovakia and Slovenia against Austria.
Women's Classification Round
|Russia vs. Japan||RUS, 6-3|
|Finland vs. Germany||FIN, 2-1|
The women's hockey tournament held its classification round, essentially the loser's bracket for teams that did not qualify for the semifinals. Russia defeated Japan 6-3 while Finland topped Germany 2-1. The two victors will now play for fifth place, while the losers play for seventh.
It's a disappointing end for the Russians, who were hoping to at least make the semifinals on home ice. The new format placed the top four teams in Group A and bottom four in Group B; being in the latter group, it seemed unlikely the hosts would challenge for a medal.
But by failing to finish in the top two spots in Group B, the Russians are now playing for a consolation prize. While Canada and U.S. gear up for an expected gold-medal-game clash, the home crowd will hope that their side can at least finish the tournament. strong.
Bobsled: Men's 2-Man Competition
|1||Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda||1:52.82||RUS|
|2||Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann||1:53.14||SUI|
|3||Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton||1:53.18||USA|
At the end of the first day of the two-man final, the Russian pair of Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda sits in first with a comfortable cushion, having turned in a time of 1:52.82.
The Americans are in medal position at the moment, with Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton in third with a time of 1:53.18. They are just four-hundredths of a second behind second-place Switzerland, but also just eight-hundredths of a second ahead of fourth-place Canada.
I'm happy with the way things are going. Steve (Langton) pushed really well today. I drove well. The sled's running fast. … We just don't know where we're losing time. We don't know the lines yet. We've only been down this track 40-some times.
The Jamaican bobsled team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts, subject to much fanfare and travel difficulties, sit last with a time of 1:57.23.
Snowboarding: Women's Snowboard Cross
Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic took home the gold, but it was more about who did not win that garnered headlines.
American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis is considered arguably the greatest of all time in this event, but for the second consecutive Olympics, Jacobellis did not even qualify for the final round. After the event, her disappoint was clearly evident:
Transcribing Lindsey Jacobellis interview from mixed zone. Lost count of how many times she said a version of "it didn't work out."— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) February 16, 2014
At age 28, Jacobellis is reaching the end of the line in a young woman's sport. She infamously won the silver medal at the 2006 Torino Games after celebrating prematurely and falling before the finish line. Jacobellis may or may not get another chance to redeem herself, but Sunday was another chapter in her heartbreak.
Speedskating: Women's 1,500-Meter
|Gold||Jorien ter Mors||1:53.51||NED|
|Bronze||Lotte Van Beek||1:54.54||NED|
The Dutch have made the Olympic speedskating competition an orange crush, sweeping another podium in the women's 1,500-meter race. The Netherlands, who lead the competition with 17 medals, have taken 16 out of 24 possible speedskating medals at Sochi.
Jorien ter Mors, generally considered a short-track star, nevertheless set a new Olympic record with a time of 1:53.51 on her way to gold. Even more impressive was the fact that ter Mors was skating in two events on the same day, just missing out on another medal after finishing fourth in the 1,500-meter short track.
The favorite, Ireen Wust, finished second and settled for silver. Wust did rejoice in her country's success, but believes she did not skate her best, per the Associated Press (h/t The Washington Post):
I admit I’m a bit ticked. I had (a gold medal) in me. Maybe I was too keen, too concerned about lap times. You have got to be loose out there on the ice, and then the lap times will come. But I don’t begrudge Jorien the gold.
The Netherlands has vaulted to the top of the medal board almost entirely on the strength of a single sport. They still have four more medal events to add to their tally and solidify one of the most dominant performances in Winter Olympics history.
Cross-Country Skiing: Men's 4x10-Kilometer Relay
Sweden emerged victorious in the cross-country men's relay event, winning with a time of 1:28:42.0. The gold medal was the second consecutive for the Swedes in the event, and they won fairly handily over the rest of the challengers.
Despite possessing World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud and Vancouver double-medalist Petter Northug, the Norwegian team finished fourth, a disappointing non-podium finish for the favorites. As Mattias Karen of the Associated Press notes (via ABC News), it was a bitter disappointment for one Scandinavian squad:
Once again the Norwegians failed to find the proper wax setup in the warm conditions and finished fourth, more than a minute behind their Scandinavian neighbor. Like the Norwegian women who finished fifth a day earlier, the men blamed their skis for the poor result.
"I've been working very hard for many years to do well here. When the skis are that bad, it's just awful," said Chris Andre Jespersen, who went the second leg for Norway. "It's a horrible feeling. I'm angry, but I did everything I could."
Weather conditions have had purported effects in other events, but Sweden deserves credit for powering through the unexpectedly warm weather. The gold was Sweden's ninth medal of the Olympics, all of which have come in cross-country skiing.