Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA Highlights for Day 11

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Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA Highlights for Day 11
Sergei Grits/AP Images

Team USA picked up two more individual medals on Tuesday during Day 11 of competition in Sochi, upping the United States' total haul to 20.

If you're scoring at home—and if you're not, seriously, what's the deal?—that boosted the Americans into a tie with the Netherlands atop the overall medal standings.

Just think where we'd be without speedskating.

Here's a look at the highlights for the United States on Day 11 of the 2014 Olympic Games. 

 

Most Historic Performance

Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Last year The New York Times referred to David Wise as the "undude" because the 23-year-old family man is sort of the elder statesman (read: most mature) of Team USA's youthful freestyle skiing contingent.

Now you can just call him a gold medalist.

Wise dominated the Olympics' first-ever men's freestyle skiing halfpipe competition on Tuesday, leading pretty much the entire way after a short stint in second place following his first run of the qualifying round.

Here's a brief synopsis of how it looked... 

Andy Wong/Associated Press
Sergei Grits/Associated Press
Sergei Grits/Associated Press
Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Got that?

As they were all over Sochi on Tuesday, conditions were difficult, with fog, rain and heavy snow turning things into a slippery, soupy mess.

Wise fell during his second run of the finals, but on this less-than-perfect day, his score of 92.00 was good enough to salt away the gold.

Canada's Mike Riddle won the silver at 90.60, and Kevin Rolland of France took bronze with 88.60.

Wise's wife, Alexandra, was in attendance, but their 2-year-old daughter Nayeli was unable to make the trip to Sochi. Instead, Alexandra enlarged a photo of Nayeli's face and fashioned it into a sign she waved in the air while cheering on her husband.

Per Lindsay H. Jones and Rachel Axon of USA Today, Wise said, "She made it out here to support me in a small way, so that was pretty cool."

Nothing like having family around to see you succeed.

 

Most Aptly Named Sleds

Have to admit, it gives Olympic bobsledding a cool, 1960s space-program feel that individual teams all have names like United States 1 and United States 2.

Turns out, those monikers actually mean something. Who would've guessed?

Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

As the women's bobsledding competition reached its halfway point on Tuesday, the team of United States 1, piloted by Elana Meyers, sat in first place with a time of 1 minute, 54.89 seconds. A half-second behind in third was Jamie Greubel's United States 2.

With the final runs set for Wednesday, Team USA couldn't be positioned much better, with only second-place Canada currently breaking up the all-American party at the top.

All systems go. 

 

Most Likely Candidate for an Olympic Curse

Sometimes it seems like Lolo Jones can't win. Literally.

Michael Sohn/Associated Press

After failing to medal in two trips to the Summer Olympics in 2008 and 2012, she followed the path made famous by NFL running back Herschel Walker back in 1992, and joined up with USA bobsledding.

Unfortunately, also like Walker, Jones is now looking at the very real possibility that she'll exit her third overall Olympics empty-handed.

Her sled—the mighty United States 3—finished Tuesday in 11th place, with a time of 1:56.73.

It will take some serious screw-ups from teams in the top 10 in order for Jones to find her way to the medal stand now. 

 

Most Anguished Falls

America's other medal hopefuls in the men's ski halfpipe—Torin Yater-Wallace and Lyman Currier—did not qualify for the finals, nor did they emerge from the day unscathed.

Currier took the worst of it, crashing on both of his runs on Tuesday. The second one appeared that it could have serious ramifications, as he limped off the course with an apparent knee injury, grimacing in pain.

According to the USA Today report, Currier tearfully told his father, "It popped."

Yater-Wallace was a tad more lucky, if you can call it that.

He fell early in his first run of the day and had to pin all of his hopes on his final trip down the pipe. Early on, the second run looked good for him, but disaster struck late, as Yater-Wallace stumbled while landing one of his last tricks and slowly collapsed into the snow.

He was defeated, but undaunted...

...until he got back to his room.

 

Athlete Most Looking Forward to Friday

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Teenage skiing sensation Mikaela Shiffrin ended Tuesday's women's giant slalom as the only American in the top 25. Not too shabby, considering the 18-year-old's first day of Olympic competition was contested amid nightmarish conditions of fog, rain and heavy snow.

Shiffrin finished fifth, half of a second behind gold medalist Tina Maze of Slovenia, but the fact she didn't lose her nerve on the challenging terrain duly sets the stage for Friday, when she'll compete in her best event—the slalom.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After stellar performances on the World Cup circuit the last two years, she'll vie to become the youngest ever Olympic champion in that event.

"It's amazing to be at my first Olympics and have that first race out of the way," Shiffrin said, via CBS News.

It seems she's making the best of her situation and looking forward optimistically—to not just Friday, but 2018 (via CBS News). "I wanted a gold, but I also think this was meant to happen," she said. "It's something I will learn from the next Olympics I go to I'm sure."

 

Most Fortuitous Crashes

Snowboard cross can be a fickle mistress. The controlled chaos of multiple riders traversing the same course at the same time can, in an instant, give way to very out-of-control mayhem. That fact was front and center on Tuesday during the men's competition.

Sergei Grits/Associated Press

After runs originally scheduled for Monday were pushed back a day due to fog, it turned out to be tough going for the favorites amid sloppy, rainy conditions. Gold-medal favorite Alex Pullin of Australia couldn't get out of the semifinals, while the men thought to be America's best hopes—Nick Baumgartner and Nate Holland—both bowed out in the first round.

Their losses turned out to be Alex Deibold's gain, as the American dark horse sailed to the bronze. 

But Deibold might not have made the finals at all if not for a midair collision with teammate Trevor Jacob in the semis.

As the two boarders approached the finish line together, they sailed off one of the course's final jumps neck-and-neck.

Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Their boards bumped and they both went down on their backsides, Deibold sliding across the finish line a bit ahead of Jacob.

No hard feelings, though.

"The end was pretty exciting," Jacob said, via Colorado's 9News.com. "I just kind of forgot to do a move off the jump and took it like 150 feet to the bottom and he passed, so it was cool. He got me. I'm so happy for Alex. He deserves it. He works really hard."

Looks like Deibold was also happy with the way he rode.

USA Today

"To be sitting here in front of you guys, stand on the podium today and wrap that flag around myself," Deibold said, via USA Today, "all that sacrifice and hard work doesn't seem like a damn thing."

 

Most Humble Beginnings

Back in 2010, Deibold traveled to Vancouver with the U.S. Olympic team, but not as an athlete. He was Team USA's wax tech, the guy responsible for keeping the boards waxed and in top shape for the actual riders.

Four years later, he's not just a member of the squad, but he's got some hardware to take home with him. Not to mention, getting props from three-time medalists:

At least the man himself is keeping a clear head.

 

Most Heartbreaking Quotes

Nate Holland came to Sochi as the current X Games men's snowboard cross champion and overall seven-time gold medalist. But just like Vancouver—where he finished fourth—he'll leave the 2014 Games without a medal. He fell in the first heat and was eliminated from competition.

"The Olympic rings, these five rings, they don’t agree with me exactly, apparently,” Holland said, via the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Every Olympics has ended in a fall and I felt great in all of them. They give me a lot of drive, a lot of joy while I’m here, but also a lot of heartbreak at the end of the race." 

Well, that's just sad.

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