Thursday's word of the day at the Sochi Olmpics was "epic."
Adelina Sotnikova's performance in women's figure skating (and the possible controversy to follow, given Yuna Kim's excellent performance)?
Canada overcoming a two-goal deficit and beating the United States in overtime in the women's hockey gold-medal game?
A near photo finish in Nordic combined?
Let's recap a great day of action in Sochi.
For Canada, a very long and very disappointing streak ended on Thursday with their 6-3 victory over Sweden. From the Associated Press (via The Washington Post):
After a 16-year wait, Canada’s women were Olympic curling champions.
“I thought, ‘Wow, just wow,” [Canada skip Jennifer] Jones said. “We did it, we did it. We are gold medalists.”
Canada denied Sweden a third straight Olympic title with a tension-filled 6-3 victory at the Sochi Games on Thursday, completing an unbeaten campaign of 11 wins—an unprecedented achievement in the women’s game.
In the bronze-medal game, Great Britain squeaked by Switzerland, 6-5.
Let the controversy begin?
Russia's Adelina Sotnikova won gold on Thursday after starting the day in second place behind defending gold-medalist Yuna Kim. Sotnikova skated wonderfully, earning an astonishing 149.95 points for her free skate, while Kim earned 144.19.
Without question, Sotnikova's performance was superb, but there will be questions about whether or not it was five points better than Kim's effort, especially in Sotnikova's home country. Ollie Williams of the BBC tweeted what many were thinking:
Stunning. Yuna Kim second. Gold for Russia. Aaaand roll the judging controversy. #bbcsochi— Ollie Williams (@OllieW) February 20, 2014
Kim, for what it's worth, didn't have any major gripes with the scoring, as she told Nancy Armour of USA Today:
Well, the scores are given by the judges so I am not in the right position to comment on it. There's nothing that will change with my words. The most important thing for me is to participate in these Games. This was my last participation in the competition, so I'm happy with that.
Kim's performance did look cleaner, but Sotnikova's performance had a higher degree of difficulty. The result will be controversial to some, but Sotnikova's skate was certainly worthy of a gold.
The United States couldn't crack the podium, as Gracie Gold finished a respectable fourth while Ashley Wagner finished seventh and Polina Edmunds came in ninth.
It was a clean sweep for France in the men's ski cross, as Jean-Frederic Chapuis crossed first for the gold. France had a great chance of sweeping, of course, as they started the final with three of the four racers, but Canada's Brady Leman couldn't manage to reach the podium.
According to Amanda Holpuch of The Guardian, the sweep for France was their first since the 1924 Paris Summer Games.
Take a bow, Maddie Bowman—you made history. From SportsCenter on Twitter:
Gold for Maddie Bowman! She wins gold medal for USA in Olympic debut of Women’s Ski Halfpipe. pic.twitter.com/cBXIVk8fBc— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 20, 2014
Afterwards, Bowman honored Sarah Burke, the pioneering Canadian freestyle skater who was one of the main reasons this event was added to the Olympics but died in a training accident in 2012.
"Sarah’s inspired us on snow and off snow," said Bowman, via Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times. "I think she would have been very proud of how all the girls rode tonight. I sure hope I and everyone else made her proud because we would not be here without her."
Brita Sigourney of the United States and Marie Martinod both had the opportunity to top Bowman's final run, but neither could do so, though Martinod did end up with the silver.
The United States women were about three minutes and an inch away from winning a gold medal. Instead, in devastating fashion, they lost to Canada in overtime.
Canada's dominance in the sport continued, as ESPN Stats and Information tweeted:
Canada has now won gold in women's ice hockey in 4 consecutive Olympics; Canada hasn't lost since the 1998 gold medal game #USAvsCanada— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 20, 2014
The United States led 2-0 until Brianne Jenner cut the lead in half for Canada in the 57th minute. The United States nearly won on an empty-net goal but the attempt hit the post, before Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin sent the game into overtime, scoring with just 55 seconds remaining.
She would also win the contest, as Canada had been awarded a 5-on-3 power play in extra time.
The bronze-medal game was nearly as wacky, as Switzerland overcame a 2-0 deficit to Sweden and won, 4-3, on goals from Sara Benz, Phoebe Stanz, Jessica Lutz and Alina Muller and a strong performance from Florence Schelling, who stopped 28 of 31 shots.
After the long hill competition, Norway had a deficit of 35 seconds to France to make up. They did so in memorable fashion, as final-leg skier Joergen Graabak outsprinted German Fabian Riessle and beat him by 0.3 of a second, while Austria was just 3.4 seconds behind.
It doesn't get much closer than this.
Norway didn't win a medal in Nordic combined in Vancouver, so this victory was particularly sweet for the Norwegians.
It's going to be hard to top Thursday's action, but Friday has some excellent action on tap. The men's hockey semifinals will be epic, with two rivalries and a berth in the gold-medal game at stake when Sweden takes on Finland and the United States faces Canada.
Medals will also be awarded in the women's ski slalom, women's biathlon relay, men's curling, women's ski cross and three short-track speedskating events.
In other words, get ready for another excellent day of action.