Sochi 2014 Olympics came to a close after 16 days of 88 countries fighting for their lifetime dream of an Olympic gold medal. The Russian Federation led the medal count with total medals (33) and gold medals (13). The United States came in second in the medal count with 28 total medals.
The Olympic Games were held in Sochi, a small beach town in Russia; hence the weather was different from four years ago when held in Vancouver. Some days topped at 65 degrees, making some Ski and Snowboarders compete in t-shirts. At some points, the wet, slushy snow might have cost few athletes their chances of winning gold in events such a Downhill Ski, Alpine Ski/Snowboard, Ski/Snowboard Slope style, Ski/Snowboard Half pipe and Snowboard Freestyle. Because poor conditions can cause the boards or skis to slow down in certain areas, the Sochi maintenance crew worked 24/7 trying to make the snow conditions the best possible for the athletes.
The Olympics present the best athletes in the world; each is a contender for the podium. The United States had a few events go in their favor; some went the complete opposite of what they had hoped. Shaun White a two-time Olympic Medalist didn’t get on the podium for his main event, the Snowboard Half Pipe, falling just short of third place and finishing fourth. White was an almost guaranteed Gold Medalist for the competition, but a bad first run doomed him and the “Flying Tomato” did not medal after placing fourth. The winner of this event was Switzerland’s Iouri “IPod” Podladtchikov who fell short of winning Half Pipe at the Winter X Games several times behind White. White was arguably the biggest name at the Olympics to go home empty-handed.
The United States Men’s hockey team had a very disappointing finish to their Olympic Games by losing in the Bronze Medal Game to Finland 5-0. The United States went into the playoffs as the second seed after winning Group A by beating Slovakia, Slovenia, and Russia in a dramatic shootout finish with TJ Oshie. Oshie, a NHL star from the St. Louis Blues, scored four out of six attempts for Team USA, and with help from Jonathan Quick, the Los Angeles Kings’ goaltender, sealed the deal for the Americans on a save against former New Jersey Devils NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk. The United States then lost to rival Team Canada in a hard fought 1-0 loss that took them out of contention for the gold medal, and instead put them in a fight for Bronze. The hope for a win didn’t go in their favor either, and they left empty handed.
United States Women’s hockey team, a powerhouse of international play in women’s hockey, got the silver medal for the second straight Olympics, falling behind Team Canada once again. The US faced off against the Canadians in the qualifying round and fell 3-2. The US handled Finland, and Switzerland easily to have a 2-1 record going into the playoffs. The US played Sweden first and handled them easily; they were in the Swedish zone for most of the game, cycling the puck getting ready to play the Canadians again in the gold medal game. The gold medal game was high speed and intense. In the third period, the US had a 2-0 lead with a little less than 4 minutes to go in the game. Team Canada scored to make the game 2-1 US and didn’t let up. Team USA played good defense in their own zone, but with 1:30 left in the game, Canada pulled their goalie to get an extra attacker, scoring to tie the game with 59 second left to force overtime. Just 5 minutes into the overtime, Canada got the game winning goal on a power play to take home another Gold Medal for powerhouse Canada.
Team USA won 9 gold medals at the Sochi. Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the Olympics in Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle, Jamie Anderson won gold for the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle, and Kaitlyn Farrington won Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe. Farrington was the last person to make the Women’s Snowboarding team, beating out teammate and Olympic Veteran Kelly Clarke who took the silver in this event. Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold in the Figure Skating Free Dance. David Wise won Men’s Ski Halfpipe, and 17-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin won an unexpected Gold for the Americans in Women’s Slalom.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the country’s first time holding the Olympics. Some Team USA members have already set goals for the 2018 Winter Games, keeping us waiting to see how USA Olympics will play out four years from now.