Though she needed an extra run just to have a chance, Kaitlyn Farrington outperformed a defending champion and two fellow Americans to grab gold on Wednesday in the women’s halfpipe.
Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter figured to give the U.S. a solid chance of crowding the medal podium, but it was the 24- year-old Farrington that broke through in her first Olympic Games. After having the second-highest score of 85.75 following her first run in the final, the two-time X Games medalist impressed for a score of 91.75 on her second go- through to win gold.
Farrington’s score was just .25 better than Australian and 2010 Vancouver Games gold medalist Torah Bright, who used her second run to earn silver after a bad landing toward the end of her first attempt damaged her initial score. Teter was in position to take bronze with a first-run score of 90.50, but Clark unseated her for the medal as the last snowboarder to go in the second run. Clark put together a solid performance to earn a 90.75, rebounding after hitting the edge and crashing hard during her first attempt.
For the first time in Olympic history, an alpine skiing race ended in a tie for gold.
Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze of Slovenia will share gold after posting identical times in the women’s downhill.
Gisin was the eighth competitor down the course at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and she set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 41.57 seconds. Maze went off in the 21st spot and matched Gisin’s run. Both Gisin and Maze finished just a tenth of a second ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who claimed the bronze for her first Olympic medal. Maze earned her third Olympic medal and became the first Slovenian to win gold at the Winter Games.
Julia Mancuso of the United States failed to pick up her second medal in Sochi, placing eighth in Wednesday’s competition. Mancuso, who won bronze Monday in the super combined, was attempting to claim her fifth Olympic medal to match Bode Miller for the most by any U.S. alpine skier.
Dutchman Stefan Groothuis secured the gold medal in the men’s 1,000 meters, while countrymate and 500-meter gold medalist in Sochi Michel Mulder brought home the bronze at Adler Arena Skating Center.
Canadian Denny Morrison, only in the race after teammate Gilmore Junio withdrew, finished in second to claim his first individual Olympic medal and third overall.
Two-time defending champion Shani Davis of the United States was looking to become the first American man to win the same event in three straight Winter Olympics, but turned in a time of 1 minute, 9.12 seconds to finish well outside of medal contention in eighth. The 32-year-old Groothuis turned in a time of 1:08.39 seconds for his first Olympic medal, while Morrison, who raced in the pairing after Groothuis, crossed the finish line in 1:08.43.
There’s been no place like home for the Russian figure skating team so far at the Sochi Games. That trend continued on Wednesday at Iceberg Skating Palace, as the Russians took home both the gold and silver medals in pairs figure skating. Russian and Soviet skaters had won this Olympic event 12 times in a row before being shut out of medal competition four years ago in Vancouver. That wasn’t the case this time around, though, as Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov followed up their first-place finish in the short program to produce the highest score in Wednesday’s free skate and capture the gold. Countrymates Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were right behind them to win the silver.
The German team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy earned the bronze for the second straight Olympics. Four years after the U.S. had its worst showing ever in pairs, with a 10th- and 13th-place finish, the Americans finished far better this time, as Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir produced a season-best score of 120.38 in the free skate and finished in sixth place overall.
Germany’s Eric Frenzel posted the top score in the ski jump and then held off Japan’s Akito Watabe in the cross country portion to claim the gold medal in the Nordic combined normal hill on Wednesday at the Sochi Olympics. Frenzel received 131.5 points for his ski jump, giving him a six-second lead over Watabe heading into the cross country portion of the event. Frenzel and Watabe traded places for much of the race until the home stretch, when the 25-year- old Frenzel sped past Watabe and crossed the finish line in 23 minutes, 50.2 seconds to secure his first individual Olympic medal.
The German team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won the gold medal on Wednesday in the luge doubles competition. The Germans, who broke a track record at the Sanki Sliding Center with a time of 49.373 seconds in their first run, finished with a total overall time of 1:38.933 to edge out Austrian brothers, Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, who were vying for their third consecutive Olympic luge doubles title.
In what very well could have been a preview of the gold medal game, the Canadian women’s hockey team won for an 18th straight time in Olympic play, as they rallied to beat the United States, 3-2. Hilary Knight lit the lamp late in the second period to give the U.S. the lead, but Canada, which hasn’t lost in the Olympics since falling to the Americans in the gold medal game in Nagano back in 1998, scored twice in the third period to move to a perfect 3-0 in Group A play of the Sochi Games. It didn’t come easy for Canada, as the U.S. pulled within one with its goalie on the bench and just over a minute to play, then had a power play for the final 30 seconds of the contest.
In earlier action, Finland topped the Swiss 4-3 in overtime.
The men’s hockey tournament got underway on Wednesday with a pair of Group C games. Switzerland got past Latvia 1-0 when Simon Moser scored with 7.9 seconds to go, while Jonas Hiller made 21 saves. Sweden, meanwhile, topped the Czech Republic 4-2 as Erik Karlsson scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist posted 27 saves.
After a disappointing showing in the first day of Olympic curling in the 2014 Sochi Games, the U.S. men’s team came through with a victory on the sheet Wednesday. The American team lost a pair of 7-4 games on Monday, but were able to defeat Denmark 9-5 two days later after falling behind early. China, meanwhile, won both of its matchups on Wednesday versus Switzerland and Germany to improve to 4-0 on the men’s side. Norway is 3-0 after having also bested Germany on Wednesday.
On the women’s side, Canada moved to 3-0 in the standings with a victory over Great Britain, while the U.S. is now 0-4 after falling on Wednesday to China. Canada joined Switzerland as the remaining unbeaten teams at 3-0, while China, Japan and Sweden are all 2-1.