Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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Sochi Day 5: Snowboarder's Upset Redeems Disappointing Day for Team USA

A young American upset a champion-studded field in the women's snowboard halfpipe to help the U.S. keep pace in the medal race on Wednesday, while a top speedskater fell short.

By Jon Schuppe
|  Thursday, Feb 13, 2014  |  Updated 6:58 AM EDT
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Sparkles and Spandex: Figure Skating Fashion

AP

United States' Kaitlyn Farrington waves after her run during the women's snowboard halfpipe final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.

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The American team kept its footing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Wednesday thanks to its women snowboarders, after a disappointing loss from a speedskating legend, a subpar finish in the women's downhill and a hockey loss.

Here's a look at the day's highlights.

A kid beats the champs

The main story line heading into Wednesday’s final in the women’s snowboarding halfpipe was the battle among three former Olympic champions: American and 2002 champion Kelly Clark, her teammate and 2016 gold medalist Hannah Teter and Australia's 2010 winner Torah Bright.

But this tale had a surprise ending.

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Kaitlyn Farrington, a 24-year-old American who was competing in her first Olympics and had no prior World Cup or X Games wins, edged them all.

Unlike her veteran rivals, Farrington did not make the cut in the qualifying rounds, and needed to prove herself in the semi-finals before making the medal round. Then, on her sport's biggest stage, she completed an airy, wobble-free run in the second run of the finals. She watched as each of her more accomplished competitors failed to top her.

Bright came in second, and Clark finished third.

Farrington’s gold was the first for the U.S. since Sunday, when another woman snowboarder, Jamie Anderson, won the slopestyle competition.

America keeps pace

With its two-medal performance in the women's halfpipe, Team USA now has nine medals in Sochi. That puts the U.S. in fourth place in the medal race, with three fewer than medal leader Norway, whose haul includes four golds.

Canada is second, with 10 total medals, including four golds and four silvers. The Netherlands is a close third with 10 total, four of them gold and two silver.

The Americans' nine medals includes three golds, just more than fifth-place Russia, which has nine total medals and two golds.

A rare tie

What happens if two Olympic skiers who are measured by the hundredths of a second end in a dead heat?

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We found out Wednesday, when Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin and Slovenia’s Tina Maze shared identical times in the women’s downhill.

Both finished in 1 minute, 41.57 seconds.

Both were given a gold medal.

That left no one with silver, and a bronze for third-place finisher Lara Gut of Switzerland.

The result was a surprising triumph for Gisin, who crashed in Vancouver and hadn't won an international race since 2010. Maze, meanwhile, is a two-time world champion.

The race was held in warm temperatures that softened the course as the event went on. American Julia Mancuso, who won bronze in the combined event (in which she led in the downhill portion), finished eighth.

Wednesday's tie for gold marked the first time two gold medals have ever been issued for the same event in Olympic Alpine skiing history. But there had been three ties for silver before, and one tie for bronze.

Shani’s disappointment

Shani Davis became one of several highly touted returning American Olympic champions who have fallen short of the podium in Sochi.

Davis, 31, entered the 1000m speedskating finals as a favorite. He'd won gold in Vancouver and Turin and seemed poised to become the first male speedskater to win gold in the same event in three consecutive Olympics.

But Davis, seemingly slowed by age, finished eighth, more than seven-tenths of a second behind gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis of (where else?) the Netherlands, which has now won four gold medals in five speedskating events, according to the Associated Press. With Michel Mulder winning bronze, the Dutch have won 10 out of a possible 15 speedskating medal so far.

Denny Morrison of Canada won silver.

After crossing the finish line, Davis hung his head before smacking Groothuis on the back.

"I just had a misfortunate race," Davis told the AP. "I have to live with this the rest of my life."

His performance follows disappointing results from several other American veterans, including snowboarder Shaun White, downhill skier Bode Miller and moguls skier Hannah Kearney.

A taste of hockey final?

The United States and Canada are widely expected to end up facing each other in the gold medal final of the women’s hockey tournament.

But first, they met in the preliminary round-robin on Wednesday, in a likely preview of things to come.

The Canadians won, 3-2, with a go-ahead goal in the second period that first appeared as if U.S. goalie Jesse Vetter had saved. But the puck slipped into the net as the referee's whistle blew, leading to a video review that confirmed the goal.

Now comes the medal round, with Canada as the top seed.

Canada has won gold in every Olympics since 2002. America has won once, in 1998.

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