With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi about to draw to a close, some of the best action unfolded on Day 14 during an exciting slate of events and gold medal moments.
The United States retained the lead in the overall medal count with 27 medals, but Russia isn't far behind with 26. Canada is lurking with 24 and could certainly take an overall lead with many events still upcoming that they're in contention for.
Here's a look at the full medal count:
By far the biggest moment of Day 13 on Friday in Sochi didn't actually end with a podium moment, but it did directly impact the medal race as Canada's men's hockey team defeated the U.S. in the semifinal round.
What was sure to be a slugfest of a game turned out to be just that early on, as both teams played to a scoreless tie through one period. But in the second, one side broke through.
Canada took command with a 1-0 lead in the second, when Jamie Benn scored off a beautiful re-direct. From then on, the Canadians suffocated America's attack with their defense and made it impossible for the USA to sustain any attack.
Al Muir of Sports Illustrated showed just how dominant Canada's defense was:
In the closing moments, it looked more inevitable that Canada would add to their lead than the U.S. tie things up.
The American offense was dominant in Sochi entering Friday, but they were held scoreless in the final. ESPN Stats and Information capped up just how uncharacteristic their struggles were:
Entering today, the U.S. led the Olympics this year with 20 goals in 4 games, but are being held scoreless inside the final 2 minutes today.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 21, 2014
Despite the sour loss, the Americans were ready to bounce back quickly, as they will face Finland in the bronze medal game. Head coach Dan Bylsma guaranteed the win, per USA Hockey:
Bylsma: We're coming home with a bronze medal. After we put this loss behind us we'll be back to do that. #DawnsEarlyLight— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 21, 2014
Playing for bronze certainly wasn't expected by U.S. players like Patrick Kane, who was obviously torn up over the loss, per a picture tweeted by National Post's Bruce Arthur:
For some non-hockey-watching Americans, the worst part of the loss is a fabricated deal centered around one polarizing pop icon that ESPN's Pardon the Interruption commented on:
On USA-Canada... MW: "There's no shame. This was a spectacular game." TK: "You know what the worst of this is? We now have to keep Bieber."— PTI (@PTI) February 21, 2014
The Americans were unable to sustain offense in the loss, failing to put in a single goal after scoring 20 goals through the tournament's first four games.
The Fourth Period's Tab Bamford thought Bobby Ryan—who wasn't picked to be on the roster—could have helped:
Canada-Sweden for gold. USA needed a scorer like Bobby Ry...— Tab Bamford (@The1Tab) February 21, 2014
While the Americans will gear up for their consolation matchup, Canada will play for it all as they face Sweden in the gold-medal game.
A win would be Canada's second straight gold and their third in the last four Games. Canada hockey's Twitter capped up the early start:
The epic Canada-U.S. game came after Sweden and Finland squared off earlier on Day 13, as the Swedes took the victory to advance to the gold medal game.
Finland held an early 1-0 lead, but couldn't hold onto it. That had ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reminiscing:
Was in Helsinki in 2003 when Finland blew 5-1 lead to Sweden in world semis and lost 6-5. And then of course Torino gold medal game ...— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 21, 2014
The U.S. suffered another heartbreaking defeat on Friday, but didn't come up short in women's slalom as Mikaela Shiffrin claimed gold.
The American finished more than half a second clear of the field of finalists, with a time of 1:44.54. Austria swept the podium's final two spots as Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel took silver and bronze, respectively.
Wall Street Journal's Rachel Bachman noted how Shiffrin was the youngest gold-winner ever in the event's history:
American Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, becomes the youngest woman ever to win Olympic gold in slalom. #Sochi— Rachel Bachman (@Bachscore) February 21, 2014
According to Paul Carr of ESPN, she's not only the youngest winner ever, but also the first American to medal in the event in 42 years:
Mikaela Shiffrin is the youngest to win slalom gold & 1st U.S. woman to medal in slalom since 1972. #Sochi2014— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) February 21, 2014
In response to Shiffrin's gold, Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch found an interesting stat to show how successful these Games have been for the U.S. (Update:they ended Day 14 with 27 medals):
Shiffrin's medal is the 26th for the U.S. in Sochi, most-ever won by Team USA at a Winter Games held outside the North American continent.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) February 21, 2014
The speedskating portion of the Sochi Games has been an utter disappointment for the Americans, who entered Day 14 without a medal while the Netherlands had 21 in the sport alone.
But Friday finally brought closure for the American team, as the men's short-track team won silver.
ESPN SportsCenter summed up the podium appearance for the U.S.:
USA team of Eddy Alvarez, J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling & Jordan Malone take silver in short-track speed skating 5000m relay.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2014
Despite reaching the podium, the Americans once again finished behind the Dutch, who took home gold.
The Netherlands skaters weren't shy on taking shots at the U.S., who heard much talk about their faulty suits in Sochi. Dutch speedskating coach Jillert Anema took a shot at the Americans, per John Van Sloten:
“We have found something that makes the suit very fast. It’s the man in the suit.” Dutch speedskating coach re: fancy US suits. #sochi— john van sloten (@johnvs7) February 21, 2014
He wasn't done there, making sure to get completely under U.S. citizens' skin by attacking the sport of American football per USA Today's Dan Wolken:
American football isn't included in the Winter Games—or the Summer, for that matter—and the Dutch are certainly happy for that. But despite that, the U.S. ended Day 14 on top of the medal count.
The last two days of Olympic action have generally featured American shortcomings on the ice hockey rink, but both days still ended with America leading everyone else in overall medals.
Russia is closing fast, though, as is Canada, so it won't be easy for the U.S. to hold onto the top spot in the medal count through the Closing Ceremony.
If the U.S. men's hockey team fails to grab bronze over Finland on Saturday, it could be tough for the Americans to stay on top of the medal count.