Day 12 of the 2014 Winter Olympics brought a lot of interesting storylines, and quite a few of the biggest stars lived up to the billing while others fell well short of their mark.
The Americans now sit at the top of the medal tally, but not all of the news was great on Wednesday for Team USA.
Ted Ligety finally got the elusive second gold that he's been working so hard to earn. Meanwhile, the bobsled team of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams dropped from first to second to take the silver, and teammates Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans will take home the bronze.
Here is a look at the current medal count:
Several other countries added to their overall count thanks to quite a few standout performances by the greatest athletes in the world.
A total of 24 medals were handed out on Wednesday, and here is a look at all of them along with a breakdown of Day 12's action.
|Alpine Skiing||Men's Giant Slalom||Ted Ligety (USA)||Steve Missillier (FRA)||Alexis Pinturault (FRA)|
|Biathlon||Mixed Relay||Norway||Czech Republic||Italy|
|Bobsleigh||Women's Heat||Kallie Humphries and Heather Moyse (CAN)||Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams (USA)||Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans (USA)|
|Cross-Country||Men's Team Sprint||Finland||Russia||Sweden|
|Cross-Country||Women's Team Sprint||Norway||Finland||Sweden|
|Snowboarding||Men's Parallel Giant Slalom||Vic Wild (RUS)||Nevin Galmarini (SUI)||Zan Kosir (SLO)|
|Snowboarding||Women's Parallel Giant Slalom||Patrizia Kummer (SUI)||Tomoka Takeuchi (JPN)||Alena Zavarzina (RUS)|
|Speedskating||Women's 5,000 meters||Martina Sablikova (CZE)||Ireen Wust (NED)||Carien Kleibeuker (NED)|
Ted Ligety Tops the Podium
It had been a rough Winter Olympics for Ligety leading up to Day 12.
After three events, the American skier had only placed inside the top 10 once and was admittedly upset with his performance. According to Michael C. Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune, Ligety said his falters earlier in the Games were all his fault:
Snow was good, course was good. “To put it simply, I choked” in super-combi, Park City’s Ted Ligety says. Reigning world champion was 12th.— Michael C. Lewis (@MCLTribune) February 14, 2014
Let's just say that's all forgotten now after winning his second gold medal.
Following his huge race down in the giant slalom, Ligety was a little more relieved with his showing in Sochi, per the Associated Press via FoxNews.com:
To be able to throw it down in the event I had the most pressure in, and the event I was the favorite in -- to be able to do that is awesome. This was really the event that I wanted to win. [...] I know where I stand in giant slalom.
Even with a gold medal in hand, Ligety stands a chance to add some more hardware to his collection. After winning the giant slalom, the 29-year-old will still be skiing in the slalom event on Saturday.
Ligety will be 33 at the 2018 Winter Olympics, younger than Bode Miller is this year in Sochi, so he has a shot to continue his success for years to come and, more importantly for Ligety himself, continue to make history as an American.
Bobsleigh Giveth and Bobsleigh Taketh Away
It was a day of ups and downs for Team USA in bobsledding, but at the end of Day 12 the Americans walked away with two medals in the women's two-man competition.
First the good: The second sled for Team USA of Greubel and Evans stayed put at third place and claimed the second bronze of the Olympics for U.S. bobsledding.
Greubel spoke about being on the podium with her American teammates, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
It's such an incredible feeling. If you had asked me this for years ago if I thought I would be an Olympic medalist here, I don't think I would have believed you. Wow, to cross that finish line and know that our families are here and we did it together is just such an incredible feeling.
As for the bad, the No. 1 sled of Meyers and Williams was overtaken on the second day of competition after a dominant performance in the first two heats.
Meyers spoke about her biggest rival Kaillie Humphries taking the gold away from her after winning by a total of .10 seconds through four total heats, per Zillgitt:
Any time you're that close and you can taste it and you don't come down with the result, it hurts a little bit. But at the end of the day, I'm super elated for this medal. At the end of the day, Kaillie beat me. I have to deal with that.
I have to go back and train even harder. We've been battling back and forth all year. It's been super fun to have that competition. She got the best of me now, but we'll see in four years
The last part of that quote has to give Americans hope. The 29-year-old pilot has never referenced retiring, but having the knowledge that she will definitely be back for the 2018 Winter Olympics gives fans of the sport hope of a gold.
And with Meyers having years to work with Williams or whomever she's partnered with in 2018, she'll be back and ready to finally take down Humphries on the biggest stage in the sport.
Gracie Gold Could Be Silver or Bronze
After the first day of the women's figure skating competition, Gracie Gold sits in fourth place. But the performances from the ladies above her might be more surprising than her results.
South Korea's Yuna Kim came in as the favorite and proved why as she finished with a flawless routine and took over first place after the short program. Carolina Kostner of Italy finished the day in third, despite being behind the crowd favorite in Julia Lipnitskaia, as Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune notes:
Carolina Kostner drew the short straw.
The 2012 world champion from Italy skates Wednesday’s Olympic short program immediately after Russian sensation Yulia Lipnitskaya, when the roar from the crowd undoubtedly will still be rocking the Iceberg Skating Palace.
As for the Russian favorite Lipnitskaia, she fell to fifth after the short program due to a technical issue. Then there was Japan's Mao Asada, who fell early in the routine and never recovered en route to a shocking 16th-place finish after the first day.
While others around her faltered, Gold lived up to the billing as America's darling on the ice. She wasn't perfect in her first individual routine in Sochi, but American teammate Jason Brown apparently enjoyed the program just a bit:
We were screaming and she was rocking her program with class and grace!! Into second...GRACIE GOLD!!!!— Jason Brown (@jasonbskates) February 19, 2014
While she still has some room to make up in the free skate, a perfect routine could put Gold on the podium. It might not be a gold, but a medal in arguably the biggest event at the Olympics would be huge for Team USA.
With Russian Adelina Sotnikova now likely garnering all of the attention going into the free program, look for Gold to try to make up the difference with the same routine that put her in second in the team competition.
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