On the second to last day of the 2014 Winter Olympics there was plenty of action in a variety of big events.
Whether it was snowboarding, skiing, speed skating or hockey, there was a lot to watch for on Day 15 of the games.
Read on for a full tally of where each country stands in the medal race and who took home the hardware today.
|Cross Country: Women's 30 km Mass Start Free||Marit Bjorgen (NOR)||Theresa Johaug (NOR)||Kristin Stormer Steira (NOR)|
|Snowboarding: Women's Parallel Slalom||Julia Dujmovits (AUT)||Anke Karstens (GER)||Amelie Kober (GER)|
|Snowboarding: Men's Parallel Slalom||Vic Wild (RUS)||Zan Kosir (SLO)||Benjamin Karl (AUT)|
|Speed Skating: Men's Team Pursuit||Netherlands||Republic of Korea||Poland|
|Speed Skating: Women's Team Pursuit||Netherlands||Poland||Russian Federation|
|Biathlon: Men's 4x7.5 km Relay||Russian Federation||Germany||Austria|
|Alpine Skiing: Men's Slalom||Mario Matt (AUS)||Marcel Hirscher (AUS)||Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR)|
Snowboarding: Men’s Parallel Slalom
One might think that if a Washington state native won Olympic gold, it’d be reason for an American celebration.
However, snowboarder Vic Wild left his home country for Olympic host Russia after years of frustration with America’s snowboarding program.
The move paid off for Wild in a big way, as he was able to take home the gold in a big performance at the men’s parallel slalom.
"I continued snowboarding because I thought I could do something special," he told the Associated Press via Fox Sports. "I thought I had never reached my potential (in the U.S.) and I wanted to see how good I could get. That's why I'm a Russian."
He edged out Slovenia’s Zan Kosir by just .11 seconds, and displayed some admirable work while competing on an injured shin.
Losing Wild has to hurt for the American program, even though they still were able to take home five medals in snowboarding events at Sochi.
Going forward, Team USA will have to evaluate how they emphasize the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions over the slalom, as that’s exactly what drove away Wild.
Either way, the unconventional Wild made a statement with a big gold medal.
Hockey: Bronze Medal Game
The American hockey team suffered a big disappointment in the bronze medal game, getting thoroughly outplayed by Finland in a 5-0 loss.
Team USA played very sloppy hockey, committing six penalties on the day and allowing the Finns to take advantage of two of them for goals.
Teemu Selanne played a great game for Finland, scoring twice to add to bring his Olympic career point total to 43, the all time record.
But, despite his brilliance, the U.S. certainly had a chance in this one.
They played an even first period, highlighted by a failed Patrick Kane penalty shot, but things fell apart right at the start of the second.
Selanne managed to score on a breakaway after the puck hit a linesman, then an American mistake in the neutral zone started another odd man rush that led to a Finland goal 11 seconds later.
After that, the Americans never really recovered, as Zach Parise told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic.
Parise: Once Teemu/Jussi had quick-strike goals, 'We started getting frustrated. Maybe that was last night carrying over. I don't know.'— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) February 22, 2014
It very much seemed as if the Americans were dejected by the loss to Canada a day earlier, and could never find the necessary motivation for this game.
After losing a heartbreaker to the Canadians in 2010 to earn the silver medal, following it up with a bronze likely wasn’t what Team USA wanted, but it still would’ve been a good sign for the program.
Instead, the Americans return home empty handed, a result that has to sting given how close their semifinal game was.
But the Americans’ lack of effort shouldn’t detract from what Finland did in this one.
While Selanne likely won’t be around for the 2018 games, stellar goalie Tuukka Rask and 19-year-old wunderkind Olli Maata certainly will be.
They played aggressive, inspired defense and were efficient enough on offense—particularly on power plays—to give the Americans fits.
Rask stopped every one of the 26 shots he faced, and had he not missed the team’s semifinal against Sweden, the gold medal game might look very different right now.
It’s hard for any third place finish to be too satisfying, but the Finns have to feel pretty good about this one.
It might be early to think about 2018, but Finland should probably be on everyone’s minds as South Korea approaches, which NBC’s Dan Marrazza notes.
Finland might not be a nation associated with Olympic success, but people need to sit up and take notice.
By dismantling the Americans, people likely will pay attention to them now.