Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA Highlights for Day 15

Brendan O'MearaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2014

Team USA skates off the ice after losing 5-0 to Finland in the men's bronze medal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Something got into the water in Sochi, and it looks to be despair. The United States hockey team, fresh off a grueling 1-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals, found little inspiration in their bronze-medal game against Finland. Their loss was in some way emblematic of a greater whole.

It wasn't the best of days for Team USA—that much is for sure. 

It could be that United States' travails can be traced to one man: Mike Golic.

Golic, a co-host on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning, guaranteed a win in hockey against Canada. The rest, as they say, is a sorry kick in the pants. Still, there's a silver lining to every cloud, even if that cloud is the size of Texas ready to consume us all and drown out all light. 

Let's look at what the rest of Team USA did—or did not do—on Day 15.


Best Hangover: U.S. Hockey

The once-potent offense was in need of some serious male enhancement. Team USA had 20 goals heading into its semifinal against Canada, and was blanked by it and Finland. It was gold or bust for the States, but Canada won in the semifinal overtime, and the Finns took advantage of the uninspired, 5-0, in the bronze-medal game.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Still, on the sunnier side of Sochi, Team USA lost to a Finland team led by Teemu Selanne and Tuukka Rask, who spend most of their ice time in the U.S., paying U.S. taxes and scoring and preventing U.S. goals. Selanne gets bonus points for playing for the Ducks, the team formerly known as the Mighty Ducks. Flying V, anybody?

So, it's not all bad.


Best Bounce: Ted Ligety

In horse racing, there's a term called "bouncing." A horse will put in a big first-race effort only to finish poorly in its subsequent race. It bounced. Ted Ligety, he bounced.

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

Ligety won the gold medal in the giant slalom on Wednesday. Then the event's baby brother, slalom, chewed Ligety up and didn't even bother to spit him out.

Ligety admitted he choked during the super combined. He blew up in the giant slalom, and his DNF in the slalom was almost predictable if you look at his form cycle. There's that horse racing again.


Best Abdication: Vic Wild

If we were talking about the greatest Russian import of the Games, it would, undoubtedly, be Russia's ability to coax short-track speedskater Victor An into its borders from South Korea. He only won three gold medals in Sochi.

But this is a Team USA highlight reel. Vic Wild, gold medalist for Russia in the parallel slalom, was born in the U.S., molded by U.S. schools, then turned his wicked snowboard at the United States into something reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Wild made such quick work in his events winning gold. He led after every heat, except one, in the two events he won gold: giant slalom and parallel slalom. 

Andy Wong/Associated Press


Most Unsettling Slide Down the Leaderboard: USA-1 Bobsled

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

There they were. Second place, a group of guys with a median age of 31.5: Steve Holcomb, Steve Langton, Curtis Tomasevicz and Christopher Fogt.

Then Germany-1, men practically born on the ice, blow by and bump USA-1 down to third. Fine. Then that Russian gaggle of goons led by Alexander Zubkov, guided by an on-loan Hand of God from Diego Maradona, zipped down the track into first place. USA-1 slid to fourth.

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

USA-1 did set a start record in 4.75 seconds. For those who say it's not how you start but how you finish, look no further than USA-1, as it started like it was being chased by a grizzly bear.

Holcomb, pulled calf and all, piloted the two-man sled to a bronze medal Monday (the first medal for the U.S. in two-man in 62 years). So long as Team USA has him in the driver's seat—a gold-medal, four-man driver at that—it always has a shot at making up ground.

There are two heats remaining on the final day of the Olympics, roughly two minutes of ice time. If it can make up some ground and the top three come back to the pack, Holcomb and co. could be playing heavy medal on closing day.