The U.S. is looking to become the first nation to win a medal on every day of the Winter Olympics, and so far, that prospect is still alive. Starting with Day 1, we break down what medals America has won and the highlights of those victories.
The U.S. kicked off the Olympics with a strong start. American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg took home gold in snowboard slopestyle, which was added to the Olympic program for the first time, and won the first American medal of the Games. Kotsenburg decided to go for it all and bust out a new trick - a backside 1620 with a Japan grab - that was both stylish and technical at the same time.The other U.S. medalist of Day 1 was American moguls skier Hannah Kearney, who came into the Games as a favorite in her event. The 2010 gold medalist ended up with a bronze after Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe earned first and second place finishes, respectively. Kearney announced she'll retire after the Olympics.
Day 2 started with more of the same for the U.S. American snowboarder Jamie Anderson won gold in women's snowboard slopestyle a day after Sage Kotsenburg did the same for the men. The South Lake Tahoe, Calif. native entered the Olympics as a heavy favorite after winning the 2012 and 2013 X Games, and made a near flawless run in the final to take home the prize.In other medal highlights, the U.S. won bronze in the team figure skating event, which is new to the Olympic program. Russia took home gold.
Julia Mancuso saved the streak for the U.S. on Day 3. Mancuso, the sole American medalist of the day, won Alpine skiing bronze in the women's super-combined. Mancuso now has four Olympic medals—a gold, two silvers and a bronze—making her the second-most decorated American skier behind Bode Miller. She can also lay claim to being one of three Americans to win individual medals at three Winter Games. Bonnie Blair and Apolo Ohno share that accolade with Mancuso.
Day 4 didn't go as planned for the U.S. American snowboarding superstar Shaun White missed the podium in the halfpipe after entering as a two-time defending champion and heavy favorite. White finished fourth. Luckily, the U.S. had other medal prospects. American freestyle skier Devin Logan took home a silver medal in the debut of women's slopestyle skiing. The other highlight of Day 4 for America was U.S. luger Erin Hamlin's historic feat. Hamelin won the first ever singles luge medal for the U.S. when she took home bronze in the event.
On Day 5, snowboarding once again saved the streak for the U.S. In the women's halfpipe, Idaho-born Kaitlyn Farrington won the gold and teammate Kelly Clark took home the bronze. On the opposite end of the spectrum was speed skating, which has served as a big disappointment for the U.S. Shani Davis had the opportunity to become the first American male to win the same event at three consecutive Winter Olympics after winning the 1000m in 2006 and 2010. It wasn't meant to be, and Davis struggled, producing a time of 1:09.12 that placed him eighth.
For only the third time in American history, the U.S. swept a podium. In the men's ski slopestyle Olympic debut, Utah native Joss Christensen topped the field with a thrilling run that landed him a 95.80 score. Fellow American Gus Kenworthy took the silver medal and teenager Nick Goepper rounded out the U.S. medal-winning trifecta by capturing the bronze.In other American news, the speed skating disappointment continued, with American favorites Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe missing the podium in the 1000m.But perhaps the biggest news of the day was the withdrawal of Russian figure skating legend Yevgeny Plushenko from the men's short program. Plushenko appeared to have suffered an injury and after taking the ice to warm up, went over to the judges to let them know he would not be skating. He took the opportunity to officially announce his retirement from figure skating.
It was a close one, but the U.S. escaped with another medal on Day 7 thanks to Noelle Pikus-Pace, who took home a silver in skeleton. The 31-year-old mother of two, who was .01 seconds away from winning bronze in Vancouver, earned the silver medal in women's skeleton on Friday. Pikus-Pace had retired after Vancouver but returned for Sochi, and she says she'll permanently retire now that she's exorcised the demons of missing a medal in Vancouver.
For the second day in a row, skeleton saved the American medal streak. Wisconsin native Matt Antoine won bronze, which was the first Olympic medal for a U.S. male skeleton slider since 2002. The U.S. speed skating team continued to struggle, with Shani Davis once again missing the podium, this time in the 1000m.But it was men's hockey that stole the spotlight. Playing twenty-four years from when they met in the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" game, the U.S. and Russia preliminary round match delivered on the tremendous hype that surrounded their tilt in Sochi. The Americans took down the host country 3-2 on the back of T.J. Oshie, who netted four shootout goals.With international hockey rules allowing teams to send out the same shooters multiple times, the U.S. chose Oshie to shoot six times in the eight-round affair, in which he beat Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game-winner.
The only U.S. medals from Day 9 came in Alpine skiing. Five-time Olympian Bode Miller captured a bronze medal in the men's super-G and broke down following the race, as he thought back on the year that had passed. The New Hampshire native's younger brother, Chelone, died at the age of 29 last April from an apparent seizure. Fellow American skier Andrew Weibrecht won a surprise silver, giving the U.S. two athletes on the podium.
Medals weren't as much of a concern on Day 10 as other days. Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold in ice dancing after taking an early lead the day before. It was the U.S.' first gold in ice dancing.In another historic event, Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton won America's first medal in the two-man bobsled since 1952. They took home bronze, giving Holcomb his second career Olympic medal.
Looking ahead, there are some days where winning a medal might be difficult for the U.S. Here, we break down what the future days look like and where America will flourish or flounder.
On Day 11, the best medal hopes for the U.S. will don skis on their feet. In the freestyle skiing halfpipe, America has a strong gold contender in David Wise. The other medal prospect is Mikaela Shiffrin, who will ski giant slalom, but her better event is the slalom.Day 12American Ted Ligety will hope for a medal in the giant slalom on Day 12, but he's not the only hope for the U.S. Elana Myers begins her quest for a medal in the two-woman bobsled, and is the other potential medal contender of Day 12.
If the U.S. can get to Day 13 with the streak alive, they are guaranteed to make it to Day 14. The women's medal hockey games take place on Day 13, and with the U.S. in the gold medal game, they are guaranteed some form of hardware.Another potential medalist is Maddie Bowman, who will compete in the freestyle skiing halfpipe.
The medal hopes for the U.S. will likely rest on the shoulders of Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who will look for gold in her best event, the slalom. Shiffrin is a favorite in the event and the best U.S. medal hope for the day.The other event America could earn a medal in is the short track men's 5000m relay. The U.S. finished first in the overall World Cup standings, but after struggling in Sochi, their gold medal prospects aren't as strong as they were heading into the Games.
This is likely the most difficult day for the U.S. to make it through. Two of the main prospects are the men's and women's speed skating team pursuit groups. U.S. speed skating has struggled terribly, perhaps more than any other program at the Games. After winning zero medals through the Olympics, the team pursuit will be the last chance for the men or women to earn some hardware. Coming into the Games, they were one of the favorites to win a medal, but after how poorly they've skated in Sochi, their prospects look bleak.Another interesting possibility will be men's hockey. That day is the bronze medal game, so it's impossible to predict whether the U.S. will even be in the game, and they would still have to win it even if they did get there.
On the final day of the Olympics, the best chance for the U.S. to close out their streak will be the four-man bobsled or the hockey gold medal game. Of course, if the U.S. makes it to the final hockey game, they will be assured a medal. But should they not get to that game, Steven Holcomb and the night train squared have a good opportunity to repeat their 2010 gold in the event.