Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: The Biggest Surprises from Day 13

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: The Biggest Surprises from Day 13

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    Day 13 at Sochi and the Winter Olympics still find a way to shock and awe.

    In the free skate, we saw one Russian fall and another rise. An Italian became the first ever to medal in figure skating and the French swept a podium. There was an undefeated Canadian team and a thrilling gold-medal finish in ice hockey.

    There's not much time left, so catch your breath and read on for Day 13's surprises. 

Canada Unbeaten En Route to Gold

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    The women's Canadian curling team did something no team has ever done before en route to winning the gold medal: go unbeaten.

    Canada finished a perfect 11-0 in the Olympics while edging a pesky and enduring Swedish team, 6-3. They also won earlier in the tournament by a score of 9-3. That was round-robin play; this was for the gold.

    The win is extra sweet since it was the Swedes who defeated Canada to win the gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Games. 

    This is the first gold medal for Canada in women's curling since 1998. 

Canada Erases Late Deficit to Win Gold in Overtime

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    In what can only be described as a thriller, the Canadian women's ice hockey team needed overtime to beat the Americans and win its fourth straight gold medal.

    With the goalie pulled, Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin scored the equalizer with 55 seconds remaining. And she added another one 8 minutes, 10 seconds into overtime to give her team a much-deserved and hard-fought gold medal. Canada scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to force the overtime.

    The Canadians have been a powerhouse in women's hockey, but the real shock was how close they came to losing. The Americans were 55 seconds away from avenging their 2010 loss to Canada in the Vancouver Games. With Canada, one second can prove to be too much time.

    After the game, devastated U.S. Coach Katey Stone said, via Kevin Allen of USA Today, "There really isn't anything to say. You can't take the sting away." 

Caradeux's a DNS After Nasty Crash in Qualifying

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    France's Anais Caradeux won the silver medal in the 2013 world championship and was certainly expected to contend for a medal in the ski halfpipe. She posted a 74.40 in her first run, then crashed in her second. That score was enough to vault her into the final.

    When the clock struck 21:30, she was unable to start, taking herself—a heavy threat—out of the competition. 

    Maddie Bowman of the U.S. went on to win gold.

Kostner Becomes First Italian to Medal in Figure Skating

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    While the final skater and eventual silver medalist, Kim Yuna, danced to "Adios Nonino," a fitting song that means "goodbye" (a tribute to the composer's father), Carolina Kostner of Italy knew she had bronze locked up, an historic first for her country.

    She was in third after Wednesday's short program and finished third overall after the free program. 

    Kostner has been one of Europe's best skaters over the past few years, winning the 2012 world championship and finishing second in 2013. If ever Italy had a shot at grabbing its first medal in figure skating, it would be on her blades, and she delivered.

The French Sweep Men's Ski Cross

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    Not only did the French sweep the podium, they kept the world's top three in ski cross far down the standings. Jean Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol won gold, silver and bronze.

    Sweden's Victor Oehling Norberg—No. 1 in the world cup rankings—finished ninth overall. David Duncan of Canada—No. 2 in the world—finished 26th and Austria's Andreas Matt, No. 3, finished 14th.

    Cross proved yet again that anything can happen.

Lipnitskaia Medal-Less in Free Skate

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    The 15-year-old figure skating prodigy (built in the future then sent back to devour us all on the ice), Julia Lipnitskaia, came away without a medal after her free skate program Thursday. For all the expectations bestowed on her, she collapsed under the pressure.

    She ran into several skaters at the top of this leaderboard who were going to be difficult to topple, and when she hit the ice on all fours, it spelt certain disaster and national shame for one of the youngest Olympians ever.

    Lipnitskaia did come away with one medal—gold—in these Games in the team skate. Though having won the European Championships this year, it makes her fall in the free skate and her precipitous slide down the leaderboard all the more painful.

Sotnikova Wins Gold in Women's Free Skate

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    Julia Lipnitskaia at age 15 makes Adelina Sotnikova at age 17 look like a spinster, yet it was Sotnikova who put together a mesmerizing performance to steal gold away from South Korea's Kim Yuna. 

    Where Lipnitskaia fell, Sotnikova rose. Sotnikova was in the big shadow cast by the slight Lipnitskaia, yet she stayed upright and stood up to the moment, proving she was every bit as worthy of national and international attention.

    Sotnikova scored a 149.95 in the free program, putting immense pressure on Kim. Kim skated a respectable 144.19. 

    Could it have been some home favoritism that gave Sotnikova a near-unbeatable score? Pundits will debate all they want. Sotnikova won gold for Mother Russia.