As the Sochi Olympics of 2014 continue, Team USA is among the top 3 contenders for medalists. With 4 medals so far, US competitors sit just behind the Netherlands (also 4), and Norway, which has a grand total of 7 medals as of publication.
The first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics went to Team USA after Sage Kotsenburg scored a 93.50 in the inaugural men’s snowboarding slopestyle event. Norway’s Staale Sandbech earned the silver medal for the event with a score of 91.75, with Canada’s Mark McMorris taking home the bronze with 88.75.
Jamie Anderson of Tahoe won the US’s second gold medal, leaving no room for disappointment as the women’s snowboarding slopestyle favorite, leading the pack with a high score of 95.25. Says Anderson of her win, “Words can’t describe.” Anderson was followed by Enni Rukajarvi of Finland with a best of 92.50, and Jenny Jones of the UK with a score of 87.25.
The figure skating team managed to sneak in to the medal-round Sunday after Ashley Wagner’s fourth-place short program collected 7 points (a performance total of 63.10) to make it in the top 5 teams to advance. Trailing behind Russia, who won their first gold medal for the games with 72.90 points, was Canada, placing second with 32 points. The US team won the bronze medal with a total of 27 points, surpassing Japan (24) and Italy (23).
Also adding to the US’s medal count is a bronze won by Hannah Kearney of Hanover, NH, whose run in the freestyle skiing ladies’ moguls nearly ended halfway down after losing her balance. Kearney managed to correct her course, but lost the favored gold medal to Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, who won the gold and silver medals, respectively. Kearney’s best run gave her a score of 21.93, nearly two points behind her qualifying score.
Says Kearney of the loss: "It wasn't the nerves, it was a simple kick-out. I did everything I could. I fought back from a not-very-good run, but that one turn got the best of me today."
Alaska’s own Kikkan Randall is a favorite for cross-country skiing and the women’s sprints. Making her way through her fourth winter games, Randall is hoping to rewrite history by becoming the first American woman to win a medal for her sport in the Winter Olympics.
Other hopefuls for the 2014 Olympics are Shani Davis, whose lightning fast feet may yet win Team USA a gold in speed skating; Steve Holcomb, who won America a gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and is ranked as the number one driver for a two-man bobsled team; and Julie Chu, returning Olympic champion for the US hockey team.
Team USA is taking a record number of 230 athletes to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Games, with an eye on the ultimate prize: to beat out rival Team Canada for most gold medalists, following Canada’s move to the top in the 2010 Winter Olympics with 14.