On one of the biggest days of the 2014 Winter Olympics, medals were awarded in eight different events on Day 12. This created a lot of movement near the top of the medal count competition.
Wednesday's action created a lot of clarity in hockey, curling and ladies' figure skating, but none of those events awarded medals. On the other hand, there was plenty of hardware given out in skiing, bobsled, snowboarding and much more.
Here is an updated look at the medal count for each nation along with a recap of some of the bigger events from Feb. 19.
For complete Day 12 results, go to Sochi2014.com.
Alpine Skiing - Men's Giant Slalom
|Gold||Ted Ligety||United States|
Throughout the early part of the Olympics, it seemed like Ted Ligety would be one of the biggest "chokers" of the games. After winning a gold medal in combined in 2006, he failed to medal in 2010 and was once again outside of the podium in his first two events in 2014.
However, he came through with an excellent showing in giant slalom, thanks mostly to his incredible first run. While the scores are combined, the first time down the hill gave Ligety almost a full second lead over everyone else in the field.
Despite coming through with the 14th-best time on the second run, he had done enough to secure first place, breaking a few barriers in the process, according to ESPN's Paul Carr:
Ted Ligety is 1st U.S. man to win gold in giant slalom; 2nd American & 1st U.S. man with 2 alpine skiing golds.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) February 19, 2014
Ligety discussed his strange career path after the win, via David Leon Moore of USA Today:
The first gold medal came a lot easier. At that point, there was a lot less of the struggles of the World Cup, the struggles of the grind. To win a gold medal now, especially after having Vancouver being really tough and the Olympics so far here being lackluster, to be able to throw down in an event I had the most passion in and I was the favorite in...To be able to do that is awesome.
Following Ligety were a pair of French skiers: Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault. These competitors are helping France climb up the medal rankings despite not finishing with too many golds. Considering the European country is rarely a contender at the Winter Olympics, this is looking like it will be a strong finish.
Still, the big story is Ligety, who was able to get the seventh gold medal of the Olympics for the United States to keep it in contention with Norway and Germany in the overall medal race.
Cross-Country - Men's and Women's Team Sprint Classic
As long as there are cross-country events, Norway will continue to win gold medals. That is exactly what happened during the women's team race, as Marit Bjoergen and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg took home the gold.
Norway has now won four gold medals out of 10 cross-country events, plus another four medals. Additionally, the country has earned two golds in biathlon and one in Nordic combined, both of which feature cross-country skiing.
There is only one men's and one women's free mass start remaining, but Norway should remain a top contender for gold or at least a spot on the podium. In an incredibly close battle for the most medals in Sochi, each event will count.
On the other end of the spectrum, Finland earned a rare medal on the men's side of the team competition. As the official Sochi Twitter account notes, it has been a while since the country earned gold in anything:
The Finnish have earned three silvers in these Olympics, but the combination of Sami Jauhojaervi and Iivo Niskanen were the first to stand on top of the podium. The pairing did not lead any of the first five rounds, but they came on strong in the final section to edge the Russian team by just one second.
Snowboarding Men's and Women's Parallel Giant Slalom
Unlike skiing, which features one athlete competing at a time and basing winners off time, the snowboarding parallel giant slalom has two contenders going at once with the winner advancing. CBC Olympics captured an early-round race to show the excitement:
Switzerland's Patrizia Kummer finished second in qualifying and then won all of her races to ensure a gold medal. However, she did have a lot of help along the way, as noted by Shawn Smith of NBC Olympics:
Heartbreak for Alena Zavarzina! She crashes taking a turn, handing the win to Kummer. Bronze still a possibility for Alena though. #PGS— Shawn Smith (@theshawnsmith) February 19, 2014
In the women's big final, Takeuchi goes down and hands the victory to Kummer. Kummer wins gold, Takeuchi silver, Zavarzina bronze. #PGS— Shawn Smith (@theshawnsmith) February 19, 2014
While her opponents did fall during the competition, the record books just say who wins, and no one can ever take that away from Kummer.
Meanwhile, Russia put itself on top of the medal count thanks to a gold medal from Vic Wild in the men's competition. The former Utah native moved to Russia and gained citizenship when he married Alena Zavarzina, who took bronze in the women's competition.
With the regular slalom set to take place later in the week, both Wild and Zavarzina remain top contenders to medal yet again. This would certainly create a happy celebration party for the two of them in front of their home fans.
As far as the medal count is concerned, it is clear that Russia will be one of the top countries when it all ends. With another strong performance by this couple, the hosts can end up finishing on top of the competition.
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