Tuesday's full slate of action at the 2014 Winter Olympics featured a plethora of storylines and seven medal events.
Despite adding two more medals to the overall count, Team USA's top storyline centered on a disappointing result in women's alpine skiing as Mikaela Shiffrin's fifth-place finish in the giant slalom headlined the Americans' lackluster day on the slopes.
David Wise's victory in men's ski halfpipe and Alex Deibold's bronze finish in the men's snowboard cross finals proved to be the lone bright moments for Team USA, who are currently tied with the Netherlands with 20 medals each.
David Wise becomes the first Reno native to win an Olympic gold medal. He's also the first to win a gold in the freeski halfpipe.— Chris Murray (@MurrayRGJ) February 18, 2014
But with plenty more medals to be won over the next five days in Sochi, the excitement is just beginning.
Let's take a look at the latest medal results and the updated medal count heading into Day 12.
|Alpine Skiing||Women's Giant Slalom||Tina Maze (SLO)||Anna Fenninger (AUT)||Viktoria Rebensburg (GER)|
|Biathlon||Men's 15km Mass Start||Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR)||Martin Fourcade (FRA)||Ondrej Moravec (CZE)|
|Freestyle Skiing||Men's Ski Halfpipe||David Wise (USA)||Mike Riddle (CAN)||Kevin Rolland (FRA)|
|Nordic Combined||Men's Individual Large Hill||Joergen Graabak (NOR)||Magnus Hovdal Moan (NOR)||Fabian Riessle (GER)|
|Short-Track Speedskating||Ladies' 3,000m Relay||Korea||Canada||Italy|
|Snowboarding||Men's Snowboard Cross||Pierre Vaultier (FRA)||Nikolay Olyunin (RUS)||Alex Deibold (USA)|
|Long-Track Speedskating||Men's 10,000m||Jorrit Bergsma (NED)||Sven Kramer (NED)||Bob de Jong (NED)|
*Click here to view complete results via Sochi2014.com.
Mikaela Shiffrin Comes Up Short in Giant Slalom
Slovenia's Tina Maze was the fastest skier in Tuesday's giant slalom competition. However, the top storyline belonged to American prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin, who entered her first Olympic Games with lofty expectations.
Shiffrin finished fifth on Tuesday, 0.50 seconds off the lead and two spots off the podium.
Still, the 18-year-old doesn't appear to be discouraged by her effort, per USA Today's David Leon Moore:
I wanted a gold, but I think this was meant to happen. I believe I wasn't going to win my first World Cup slalom until I was ready, because if I won it a minute early I wouldn't be able to continue to win. I think it's the same with GS. I was really thinking that my first GS win would be at the Olympics, and that would be such a cool thing to accomplish. But it's something I accept. I got fifth today. There are four girls who skied better that I did.
The defending world champion in the slalom, Shiffrin will be a heavy favorite to medal in Friday's women's slalom event. But given her inexperience on this stage, there are multiple factors sure to contribute to Shiffrin's performance in her preferred event.
Meanwhile, Maze's gold-medal victory in the giant slalom marks her second gold of these Games. But the separation between gold and silver was decidedly minute as Maze's winning time of two minutes and 36.87 seconds was just 0.07 seconds faster than silver-medal-winner Anna Fenninger of Austria.
Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the giant slalom, finished third to take home bronze.
South Korea Triumphs in Ladies' 3,000-Meter Relay
Korea held on to win a wild 3,000-meter relay in ladies speedskating on Day 11 at the Iceberg Skating Palace. The four-women team finished in a time of four minutes and 9.498 seconds to lock up gold.
China finished second, but were bounced from the podium after receiving a penalty for impeding. As a result, third-place Canada captured silver.
Crazy finish in the Women's 3000m Short Track Relay! Congrats to the Canadian Women on winning Silver ... Way to skate ladies! Very exciting— Amanda Gaudet (@AmandaGaudet24) February 18, 2014
Italy, led by Arianna Fontana, earned bronze, finishing nearly five seconds back of the Koreans.
South Korea's Shim Suk-Hee was the star of Tuesday's thrilling event, making the dramatic and decisive pass on the final lap to secure gold for her country, which was disqualified from this event in Vancouver four years ago.
For the 17-year-old Shim, the joy is amplified as she had already won a silver medal in the women's 1,500 meters on Saturday.
Pierre Vaultier Secures First Gold Medal for France
Team USA's dominant reign in snowboard cross came to an end on Tuesday as Frenchman Pierre Vaultier conquered the rainy slopes in Sochi to earn France's first gold medal of the 2014 Games.
In December Pierre Vaultier tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Today he won a gold medal pic.twitter.com/TFbWtWj0c3— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 18, 2014
Russia's Nikolay Olyunin would challenge Vaultier in the final, but was unable to pull ahead, settling for silver. Meanwhile, American Alex Deibold finished third, adding to the U.S.'s medal count with a bronze.
Great battles all over the top four! France's Pierre Vaultier holds off hometown favorite Nikolay Olyunin of Russia for the gold medal.— Shawn Smith (@theshawnsmith) February 18, 2014
While the 27-year-old Deibold displayed tremendous patience and poise in the final, slowly working his way over the terrain and through the field of competitors, veteran American snowboarder Nate Holland was disappointing on the big stage yet again, coming up short in the very first race on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old, who has won seven gold medals in snowboard cross at the X Games over the years, has now struck out three times at the Olympics, per The Denver Post's Jason Blevins:
The Olympic rings. These five rings, they don't agree with me exactly apparently. Every Olympics for me has ended in a fall. I felt great in all of them. They give me a lot of drive and a lot of joy when I'm here, but also a lot of heartbreak at the end of the race.
Prior to Tuesday's event, American Seth Wescott had won each of the previous two men's snowboard cross competitions at the Winter Olympics, prevailing in 2006 and 2010.
However, with Vaultier ending the U.S.'s impressive run, Day 11's results could signal a changing of the guard in snowboard cross. The event is still new by Olympic standards, and with other countries coming on strong, the Americans will need to get back to the drawing board ahead of 2018.
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