As the 2014 Winter Olympics progress, things continue to get more convoluted at the top of the medal standings. By the end of Day 11, things were as tight as ever with most of the top countries having done well in at least one event.
For example, Norway brought home three more medals. A great tally, sure, but it was only good enough to keep it in fourth place:
Above Norway rests the host country, which only picked up one medal on the day—surely a disappointing result after having the overall lead just a few days ago. The U.S. took home two medals, but stood no chance in the face of the Dutch grabbing another three thanks to a fourth podium sweep in a speedskating event.
|Day 11 Winter Olympics Medal Winners|
|Women's Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom||Tina Maze (SLO)||Anna Fenninger (AUT)||Viktoria Rebensburg (GER)|
|Men's Biathlon 15-Kilometer Mass Start||Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR)||Martin Fourcade (FRA)||Ondrej Moravec (CZE)|
|Men's Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe||David Wise (USA)||Mike Riddle (CAN)||Kevin Rolland (FRA)|
|Men's Nordic Combined Large Hill/10-Kilometer||Joergen Graabak (NOR)||Magnus Hovdal Moan (NOR)||Fabian Riessle (GER)|
|Women's Short-Track 3,000-Meter Relay||Korea||Canada||Italy|
|Men's Snowboard Cross||Pierre Vaultier (FRA)||Nikolay Olyunin (RUS)||Alex Deibold (USA)|
|Men's Speedskating 10,000-Meter||Jorrit Bergsma (NED)||Sven Kramer (NED)||Bob de Jong (NED)|
Tina Maze Shines, Scores Second Gold in Sochi
After a spot on top of the podium in the women's downhill event, Tina Maze was back at it on Day 11 in the giant slalom event.
Maze posted a time of 1 minute, 17.88 seconds on her first run, which turned out to be the top time overall as she bested the field by a wide margin. The dominant display earned her not just a piece of hardware, but also a spot in the record books, according to Infostrada Sports:
Maze's next-closest opponent turned out to be Austria's Anna Fenninger and her 2:36.94 combined time, while bronze was awarded to Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, who failed to defend her top podium spot from Vancouver.
Maze told reporters after her big win, via USA Today's , that her plan was to show her best in Sochi:
I can say that this season's plan was to show my best here. My focus on training was always these Olympic Games. I knew I had to come here in my best shape. When you don't have the right motivation or the passion that I have here, it's difficult to show your best. I have a big will to show my best here.
The plan worked. Now Maze and the rest of the field can turn their attention to the rest of the alpine skiing events. The women's normal slalom takes place on Friday, where Runs 1 and 2 will likely see Maze and the Germans as heavy favorites.
U.S. Triumphs in First-Ever Men's Freestyle Halfpipe
David Wise took home the gold medal in the men's freestyle halfpipe event thanks to a 92.00 score that was more than a point better than any other competitor's best mark.
The score allowed Wise to move past favorites such as Mike Riddle of Canada and Kevin Rolland of France, who finished with silver and bronze respectively.
After the event, Wise took to Twitter to thank fans and congratulate his podium cohorts:
Even more impressive was the fact Wise was his country's last shot at a medal with Torin Yater-Wallace and Lyman Currier bowing out of the event early thanks to crashes. Wise delivered anyway and gave the U.S. its sixth medal of the Sochi Games and propelled it back into a tie for first.
The U.S. still has another shot to medal in freestyle skiing to add to the country's impressive total on Thursday in the ski cross finals.
The Netherlands Claims Another Podium
Entering Tuesday's grueling test of endurance known as the men's 10,000-meter race, the Dutch had already swept three podiums in Sochi with wins in the men's 5,000-meter, 500-meter and ladies' 1,500-meter events.
Of course, the biggest storyline going into the longest race of all surrounded Sven Kramer, the man who would have won gold in Vancouver had his coach not committed a grievous lane-change gaffe that saw him disqualified.
There were no errors for the Dutch this time, although Kramer could not even match fellow countryman Jorrit Bergsma. He set an Olympic record with a time of 12:44.45, well ahead of Kramer's 12:49.02 and bronze medalist Bob de Jong's mark of 13:07.19.
It also happened to be much better than the Olympic record, as NBC Sports points out:
The holder of that record and only man who had a chance of invading the Dutch podium was South Korea's Seung Hoon Lee, but he finished a disappointing fourth.
For those counting, the result makes it 12 out of 15 total medals and four out of five golds for the Dutch men. The focus now switches to the team pursuit events in the coming week, where the Dutch are the obvious favorite to grab another gold. Poland and Canada are the only two countries with a legitimate outside chance to pull off the upset.