Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA Highlights for Day 12

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Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA Highlights for Day 12
Al Bello/Getty Images

Let's put it this way: Day 12 of the Sochi Winter Olympics went much better for the USA than it did for Russia.

As the Russian hockey team was sent packing and Julia Lipnitskaia fell during her short program, the Americans had themselves quite a steady day. Favorites soared and disasters were averted—certainly good news as we head into the Sochi home stretch.

Overall, Team USA added three medals to its tally: a gold, silver and bronze. Here's the breakdown:

 

Most historic performance on snow:

Quite a way to salvage your Olympics, Ted Ligety.

Gero Breloer/Associated Press/Associated Press
Champ.

By winning the giant slalom in dominating fashion, Ligety became the only U.S. male to ever win an Olympic gold in that race and the only U.S. male to ever win two Olympic gold medals in Alpine skiing.

Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images
A nice victory pose.

It had been eight years since he was last on an Olympic podium, and, naturally, he was quite excited about it.

He told the press afterward that he had struggled a bit with being the favorite, but clearly he was able to cope.

I've been wanting to win this medal my whole life, but in a realistic sense the last four years. All season long, everybody talks about the Olympics, Olympics, Olympics. At a certain point I was just like, "Let's do it already. Let's just get this thing over with so we can stop talking about the pressure and everything with it."

 

Most historic performance on ice:

After pushing the USA-1 bobsled to a silver with driver Elana Meyers, Lauryn Williams now has medaled in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Wow.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Williams (right) with her driver, Meyers.

While all eyes were on Lolo Jones, it was Williams who benefited most from the track-to-bobsled conversion, becoming only the fifth Olympian ever to medal in both Games.

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
High five!

Their sled was a split second away from gold, but Canadians Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse edged them out on the last run.

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
There's a lot of America on that podium.

Americans Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans in USA-2 won the bronze medal, making it a big bobsled day for the United States.

 

Most overblown letdown:

Oh Lolo. Another Olympics, another opportunity at a medal missed.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Rough day at the office.

This time it's hard to blame it on Jones, though. Driver Jazmine Fenlator had trouble steering through the course, and the duo in USA-3 finished in a disappointing 11th place.

Michael Sohn/Associated Press
Still smiling.

But I'll give credit where credit is due—Jones and Fenlator were some of the first to embrace their teammates as they won medals. 

  

Best Olympic debuts:

This is a tie between all three of America's women's figure skaters, Polina Edmunds, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
USA! USA!

After their short programs, all three are in the top seven, with Gold at No. 4, Wagner at No. 6 and Edmunds at No. 7. Considering there were question marks surrounding each of them as they made their Olympic debuts, it was impressive.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Perfection from Polina.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Power from Ashley.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Poise from Gracie.

Most importantly? They all made it through their programs without falling. Phew!

Bernat Armangue/Associated Press
I agree.

Gold and Wagner will skate in the final group on Thursday in the free skates, while 15-year-old Edmunds will be in the group just prior.

 

Biggest statement win:

As Russia's men's hockey team was sent packing and Canada's team struggled to score against Latvia (yes, Latvia!), Team USA looked great in a 5-2 thrashing of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.

Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Looking good, boys!

The U.S. men's hockey team was not the favorite for the gold medal headed into Sochi, but it's hard to keep it out of the conversation now.

 

Most impressive commentary:

Figure skater Jason Brown wasn't on the ice today, but he might have been the best performer for Team USA. He live-tweeted the entire short program for the ladies, and it was absolutely spectacular.

Watch out, Johnny Weir. You might have some competition in the commentary booth.

 

Thursday's top dogs:

What a huge day Thursday is on the ice. In figure skating, Gold, Wagner and Edmunds will all compete to try and sneak onto the podium.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press/Associated Press
No pressure.

Meanwhile, the much-anticipated gold-medal match in women's hockey will be contested between the U.S. and Canada. 

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The moment has come.

On the halfpipe, freestyle skier Maddie Bowman finally gets her shot to go for a medal. She's a favorite to make it onto the podium.

Clive Mason/Getty Images
It's Maddie time.

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