Through 11 days of the Winter Olympics, Team USA sits atop medal rankings and overall medal ranking. The U.S. came up short in Speedskating and the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe events, but has had a great showing overall, particularly in the Men’s Super-G Alpine event and in the Women’s Halfpipe Snowboard event. The Olympics, though, have thus far been under the shadow of controversy.
Team USA had a disappointing showing in the Men’s Speedskating event, in which Shani Davis, the two-time defending champion in the 1,000-meter event, failed to medal. Interestingly enough, Team USA has actually switched their uniform from the highly touted Under Armour Mach-39 suits to the same suits they competed in during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. This change comes after multiple disappointing outcomes for a team that was expected to win multiple events this winter. The Mach-39 was only made available to Team USA six weeks before the Games began, as the technology was supposedly so advanced that the Team feared other countries might attempt to steal it. Ironically, the athletes didn’t have enough time to actually try the suits during live competition, and didn’t know that the suits would slow them down as much as these did.
One of the two major controversies of this Olympics occurred during the Luge event. The Canadian Luge coach, Wolfgang Staudinger, speculated that there might have been some foul play in the event. After Canada finished fourth, the coach voiced concerns that the Russians, who took Silver, may have turned down the temperature on the track after they had raced, creating frost that ultimately slowed down the times for future racers. Russia raced four teams ahead of Canada, but the first place finish by Germany, who raced three teams after Russia, may portray Canada’s concerns as the cries of a sore loser.
The second controversy involving Russia occurred in their men’s hockey game against the U.S.. With the score knotted at 2-2, Russia appeared to score what would have been a deciding goal and a hard-won victory. The officials, however, waved off the goal after a lengthy review after determining that just prior to the goal, the net had been moved off its bearings. In the subsequent shootout, the U.S. won on T.J. Oshie’s heroics to give them a well-played 3-2 victory and confidence moving forward in the event. Afterwards, Oshie humbly brushed away comments on his heroism and paid homage to his relatives who were in the military, stating, “Heroes wear camo.” The U.S., which played in a quarterfinal match on Wednesday, are in prime position to earn a gold medal after winning their group in prelimary play.
Shaun White had a disappointing showing in the Men’s Halfpipe Snowboarding competition after failing to medal in an event in which he was projected to place, if not win gold. The two-time defending champion of the event fell in his final run and finished in fourth place. Switzerland’s Iori Podladtchikov nabbed the gold medal, edging out Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka, who won silver and bronze, respectively.
Team USA had tremendous success in the Men’s Super-G Alpine event, as Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller secured second and third place. This bronze medal finish for Bode Miller was extraordinary considering the emotional trauma he endured in the past year; he lost his 29-year old brother to an aneurysm last spring and has been in a custody battle for his 11-month-old son throughout the year.The bronze-medal finish propels Miller to second all-time in Men’s Alpine Olympic medals at the ripe age of 36. After his bronze medal win, Miller broke down in tears during an interview with NBC’s Christin Cooper.
Team USA also performed well in the Women’s Halfpipe Snowboard events. Kaitlyn Farrington and Kelly Clark brought home the Gold and Bronze medal for Team USA after qualifying for the finals. The top four scores were only 1.25 points apart. Farrington won through her consistent completion of tricks, while fellow teammate and favorite Kelly Clark struggled with landing throughout the event.
Team USA looks to convert some of the second and third place finishes into golds in the upcoming days. The Olympics end this Sunday, with closing ceremonies being played at 11:00 a.m. EST on CBC. NBC will not be broadcasting the ceremonies until 8:30 p.m. EST.