2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Biggest Disappointments of Day 14
Day 14 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics seemingly brought as much disappointment as joy, especially for Americans.
Yes, Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won gold for the United States, as expected in the women's slalom, and the U.S. men speedskaters finally salvaged a little respect by capturing silver in the 5,000-meter team relay in short-track speedskating. But there were bitter setbacks for the Americans in men's hockey and, as has repeatedly been the case in Sochi, in individual short-track and team long-track speedskating events.
For some other countries, there were troubling developments away from the competitive arenas and failures by some Olympic veterans that seemed almost inconceivable at the outset of the busy day.
Athletes Sent Home After Failing Drug Tests
Positive drug tests are never good news for any athlete at an Olympics.
And as inevitable as they seem to be, it's always a combination of shock and disappointment when they are revealed. So it was Friday, when two athletes—German women's biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (pictured above) and Italian bobsled brakeman William Frullani—were sent home after testing positive for banned substances with A and B samples, according to abcnews.go.com.
Sachenbacher-Stehle's positive test was especially troubling. She is a two-time Olympic champion, having won her first gold medal in the 4x5-kilometer team relay in 2002 and following that up with another gold in the team sprint in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Now 33, she finished fourth in each of her two events in Sochi.
Sachenbacher-Stehle has denied knowingly taking any performance-enhancing, banned substances, but the German Olympic Committee told ABC News that she had been removed from the team and sent home after testing positive for the banned stimulant methylhexanamine.
Frullani, 34, tested positive for the banned stimulant dimethylpentylamine and also was removed from the Italian team and sent home. He will be replaced in Saturday's four-man bobsled event by Samuele Romanini.
Frullani also will have some explaining to do when he returns to his day job in Italy, where he is a police officer sworn to abide by the laws of the land.
Defending Olympic Champion Maria Hoefl-Reisch Fails to Medal in Women's Slalom
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch entered the Sochi Games as defending Olympic champion in the women's slalom, hopeful of spoiling—or at least delaying—the world's coronation of America's Mikaela Shiffrin as her successor as the best in her sport.
She left without a medal.
Shiffrin's two runs were timed in 52.62 and 51.92 seconds, respectively. And while Hoefl-Riesch's run of 53.11 had her in second and in position to challenge Shiffrin—or at least take the silver medal—her second run of 52.62, although as good as Shiffrin's first, was slower than the second runs of five other skiers and took her off the medal podium altogether.
Austria's Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel took silver and bronze, respectively.
Great Britain Routed by Canada in Men's Curling
This was supposed to be the year Great Britain challenged—really challenged—the superiority of Canada in men's curling.
Instead, the gold-medal game turned out to be a rout in the favor of the Canucks.
Final score: Canada 9, Great Britain 3 in just eight ends. It was never much of a game after Canada raced to a 5-1 lead en route to its third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the event. The margin of victory matched the largest in a final in Winter Games history.
The UK edition of the International Business Times described Canada as having "produced a dominating and ruthless performance." Who knew curling could be so cruel?
Jessica Smith of Team USA Fails to Medal in Women's 1,000-Meter Short-Track
Jessica Smith seemed in position to perhaps pull a major upset and win the first individual gold of these Olympics for the U.S. speedskating team in the 1,000 meters final.
But like so many other times in Sochi for the U.S. speedskaters, it didn't happen.
After leading early in the race, Smith faded in the latter part to finish fourth (of the four in the finals). While she deserves credit for making the final in the first place, it was ultimately another disappointment in a Winter Games full of them for the American speedskaters.
Seung-Hi Park of South Korea took the gold, Kexin Fan of China the silver and Suk Hee Shim of South Korea the bronze.
US Speedskater J.R. Celski Fails to Make 500-Meter Short-Track Final
At least Jessica Smith made the main final in her event for a shot at a medal.
Her more celebrated U.S. teammate J.R. Celski, a two-time bronze medalist at the 2012 Winter Games in Vancouver, couldn't even do that.
After advancing to the semifinals in the men's 500-meter short-track (and only after falling and then being awarded a spot because another skater was disqualified), Celski failed to take advantage of that gift. He finished fourth out of five skaters in his semifinal, which was won by China's Dajing Wu.
It was no surprise that Russia's Victor An eventually won gold, while China's Wu took silver and Charle Cournoyer of Canada snagged bronze.
Americans Fail in Long-Track Team Pursuit to Complete Medal Washout
At least Celski was able to salvage a silver by being part of the U.S. men's 5,000-meter short-track relay team.
There was no such sliver of salvation for the American long-track speedskaters, who completed their Sochi debacle with a pair of defeats in the men's and women's 3,000-meter team pursuit events on Friday. That left the U.S. shut out entirely of medals in long-track, when some had predicted prior to the Olympics that this group might come away with as many as 10 medals total.
That also meant no medals for Shani Davis (pictured above), the four-time Olympic medalist who saw his final hopes for adding to that total in Sochi dashed when the men couldn't even advance into Saturday's main final where the gold, silver and bronze will be sorted out.
"We came in being one of the most decorated disciplines in the Winter Olympics, and we come away with zero medals," Davis told Yahoo.com. "We have to destroy and rebuild. It's got to start from Ground Zero and we've got to build it up again."
Team USA Shut Out by Canada in Men's Hockey
It wasn't just that Team USA lost its showdown with Canada in the men's hockey semifinals.
It was that the Americans didn't even score a single goal in the 1-0 defeat. After outscoring their opponents 20-5 to reach the semis, they couldn't put a single puck in the net.
Goalie Jonathan Quick was terrific on this day for Team USA and certainly played well enough to earn the victory that would have put the U.S. in Sunday's gold-medal game against Sweden. But Canada goaltender Carey Price was better, and the defense that played in front of Price did not even allow very many real offensive opportunities for the flustered Americans.
Now it's on to a bronze-medal game against Finland for Team USA. How disappointing is that?