Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Day 14 Winners and Losers
Friday was another action-packed Olympic day, one dominated from start to finish by maple leaf.
On Day 14 the women took their turn on the ski cross slopes, the lineups for the medal matches in men's hockey were set, a curling crown was won and the short-track rink provided calamity as usual.
Believe it or not, there are only two full days of Sochi action left. The time has absolutely flown by.
Here is everything you need to know about an emotional, unforgettable and sometimes heartbreaking Day 14.
Losers: American Hockey Fans
This one hurt.
A day after the U.S. women saw a hockey gold medal slip through their fingers in a loss to the Canadians, the U.S. men failed to get revenge.
The Americans had been high-scoring and full of heroics throughout their time in Sochi, but they looked flat in their semifinal match on Friday. Goalie Jonathan Quick did everything he could, making 36 saves, but the United States couldn't muster a hair of offense and was shut out by Canadian goalie Carey Price.
The U.S. team went 0-for-3 on power plays, and simply looked overmatched for the entirety of the game. With the Russians falling in the qualification round, this seemed like the year that the U.S. could finally get that Olympic gold back. Instead, they'll have to fight for the bronze against Finland on Saturday.
It has been an embarrassment of riches for Canadians over the past couple of days. Friday in particular was dominated from start to finish by our northern neighbors.
To start things off, Canadians Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa went gold-silver in the women's ski cross final. Then, their curling team took the gold medal in the men's tournament the day after their woman won gold as well.
But the most important victory came in hockey, as Canada once again beat the United States and booked their spot in the gold medal match with a 1-0 victory. Their goalie Carey Price made 31 saves and shut down the offensive attack from the United States that had previously been so impressive in Sochi.
Simply put, the Canadians are on a roll.
Loser: J.R. Celski (USA)—Short-Track Speedskating
Many thought that the Sochi Games would be a breakout for J.R. Celski, but instead it was full of close calls, disappointments and crashes. The next Apolo Ohno he is not.
Friday was his final chance to win an individual medal at these Games, and it was in the 500 meters—the event where he holds the world record. It didn't go well.
He fell during his quarterfinal, but was advanced to the semifinals automatically when another skater was disqualified. Even with the second chance, though, Celski continued to disappoint. He finished in fourth place in the semifinals, and the best he could muster was a spot in the B final.
He did help the U.S. short-track team avoid a complete shutout when he led the relay team to a silver medal in the 5,000-meter relay, but it was little more than a consolation prize for the 23-year-old Celski.
Winner: Henrik Lundqvist(SWE)—Men's Hockey
While all eyes were focused on the USA vs. Canada semifinal, Sweden and Finland also battled for a spot in the gold-medal match. Led by their goalie Henrik Lundqvist, it was Sweden who came away with a 2-1 advantage.
Sweden has been beset by injuries during this tournament, but the constant has been Lundqvist, the goalie for the New York Rangers.
Lundqvist had 25 saves on the day and held the Finns to only one goal in a testy match. They will be the slight underdogs against defending champions Canada in the final, but it will be hard for the Canadians to get a shot past the 31-year-old.
Losers: Great Britain's Men's Curling Team
The men's curling team from Great Britain had a chance to lead their country to gold on Friday, but instead they came up well short, falling to the Canadians 9-3 in the final.
Had the Great Britain team been able to pull off the win, it would have been the first time the country won two gold medals in a single Winter Olympics. Now, Lizzy Yarnold's skeleton gold still stands alone.
They went down in the first round and never could get back into the match. Skip David Murdoch told the BBC that despite disappointment, he'd be able to appreciate the silver soon.
We just never got off to a good start. We were struggling after three, and when you go 5-1 down to a team of that calibre it's extremely difficult to come back.
I'm disappointed now but a silver medal is scarily cool. I think I'll appreciate it in about 10 minutes!
Winner: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)—Alpine Skiing: Slalom
Now that's the way to make an Olympic debut.
Mikaela Shiffrin had absolutely no problem living up to the hype in Sochi. The 18-year-old prodigy was favored to win the slalom race, and she did just that, dominating the field from the start to take the gold by over half a second.
She had a scary moment during her second and final run when she almost ran into a gate, but she was able to make a veteran move to recover and ski her way to the top of the podium.
Shiffrin has long been hyped as a future superstar, but this gold might make her a current one. She is now the youngest slalom champion, male or female, in the history of the Olympics.
This was only her second event in Sochi—she placed fifth in the giant slalom—but she has expressed a desire to compete in all of the Alpine events in the future. The rest of the field better watch out.
Losers: U.S. Speedskating Relay Teams
There was no redemption to be had for the long-track speedskaters of the United States.
All hopes for individual medals from stars such as Shani Davis and Heather Richardson had already passed, but Team USA was hoping to end things on a positive note with a medal or two in the team pursuit.
Instead, both the men and women lost in the quarterfinals handily, simply adding to the embarrassment that has been the Sochi Games.
Davis, who was participating in the team pursuit relay for the first time in his decorated Olympic career, summed up the disappointment to the press afterwards:
We just had some miscommunications out there during the race. We were ahead for a bit and then we were behind, and the next thing I noticed we were two seconds behind. And I got really, really tired … and the race was over.
And, just like that, the U.S. speedskating team goes home empty handed.
Winner: Ukraine's Women's Biathlon Team
It has been a tragic week for Ukraine, but the women's biathlon team gave the nation a reason to smile on Friday when they took the gold medal in the women's 4X6-kilometer relay.
Many Ukrainians have died and hundreds more injured over the past few days as anti-government protests in Kiev turned violent. On Thursday, a Ukrainian Olympic skier, Bogdana Matsotska, withdrew from the Games in a show of solidarity with the protesters.
But the biathletes carried on, and ended up winning the second gold in Ukraine's history at the Winter Olympics.
Loser: Elise Christie (GBR)—Short-Track Speedskating: 1000 Meters
Another race, another crash and disqualification for Elise Christie of Great Britain. As they say, "that's short track."
Christie, who won the bronze medal in the 1,000 meters at the World Championships, tried to make a pass during the last lap of her semifinal race when disaster struck and she tangled with China's Li Jianrou and crashed.
Christie was disqualified after it was determined she was at fault for the crash.
Christie talked to BBC Sport about the decision that ended her Games:
Never in 100 years did I expect to get a penalty for that. I'm confused really. I am very heartbroken about the decision.
Winner: Viktor Ahn (RUS)—Short-Track Speedskating
What a difference four years can make. After dominating the 2006 Games in Torino, Viktor Ahn, then Ahn Hyun-soo, missed out on the Vancouver Olympics due to injuries and conflicts with the South Korean speedskating federation.
Disappointed, Ahn decided to become a Russian citizen and compete for the home country in Sochi.
On Friday, the 28-year-old was able to get the gold in the 500 meters that he couldn't quite clinch in 2006, and he was able to lead his adopted country to a gold in the 5,000-meter relay in an Olympic-record time.
Ahn now has eight Olympic medals in his career, including four in Sochi. It's safe to say his decision to switch nationalities paid off.
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