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President Obama settles Olympic bet, sends beer to Canada

Posted by Zeninjor Enwemeka March 11, 2014 10:53 AM


AP photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick

In this Feb. 19, 2014 photo, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (right) shook hands with President Barack Obama during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.

Bottles up, Canada.

President Obama made good on his bet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper by sending over a couple of cases of beer more than two weeks after the countries faced off in hockey at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.


A closer look at where the US Olympics medals came from

Posted by Staff February 24, 2014 11:26 AM


The United States may have set a record for number of participants sent to the Winter Games in Sochi, but it can be said that the overall results were not as satisfying.

Americans brought home 28 medals from the 2014 Winter Olympics, five behind Russia for the overall lead. While second place may be successful for some countries, it was far from what the US expected heading into the Games.

The overall medal count was strong, but when looking at the numbers individually, some interesting stats emerge. For example, of the 28 medals Americans won in Sochi, nine were in events that were making their Olympic debut: six in slopestyle skiing and snowboarding; two in halfpipe skiing; and one in team figure skating.

Here is a breakdown of where the US’s medals came from at the 2014 Winter Games.

us medal count from sochi.jpg

Had these events not been added to the Olympics lineup this year, these Olympics would have gone down as the lowest medal count since the US brought home 13 from Nagano, Japan, in 1998, a far cry from Vancouver 2010, where the US topped the medal stand with 37.

Success in “traditional” Winter Olympics sports was more scarce for the US than usual. Two noticeable areas were in speed skating and figure skating, as the Americans were completely shut out in speed skating for the first time since 1984, while the figure skaters accounted for just one medal in the sport’s four disciplines, their poorest showing since 1994.

An area the US has gained momentum over the past few Olympics are in “X Games” style sports, where big air and stunning tricks reign supreme. “X Games” sports at the Olympics encompass more modern events that focus on extreme displays shown by athletes on the course, but are not necessarily limited to just events that are a part of X Games competition. Here is a look at how the US medal count in those events compared to “traditional” Winter Olympics sports.

x games vs traditional.jpg

The US has seen a greater rise in participation among these “X Games” sports over the past decade, with more young athletes choosing to pursue them over the traditional sports.

Dear Sochi, thank you!

Posted by Dan Egan February 24, 2014 09:00 AM
Dear Sochi,

I writing to thank you for being such a great host during the 2014 Winter Olympics. To be honest, my friends and family were worried about my visit, and I also have to admit that I bought terrorism and medical evacuation insurance just to be on the safe side. My mom said she was glad I did.


All I can tell you is that from the moment I touched ground in Sochi, things went much smoother than I expected. And much to my surprise, the simple things that can be a huge hassle when traveling were really well thought-out. There was no real language barrier to speak of, all my baggage arrived, and the hotel bus shuttle was smooth.

Overall, I was in your town for 25 days and I should add they were long days. Getting from the Coastal Cluster of media hotels to the mountain events did take me just over two hours one way, and with some of the evening events and press conferences not ending until after midnight, it made for a long commute at the end of each day back to my hotel.


Congratulations on your internet! I had connections in the media centers, at the bottom of ski runs, and in my hotel. It was never an issue. As a video journalist, a solid, uninterrupted connection is a must, and you delivered on that.

I’m going to tell all of my friends to come and visit, and here is why. I think overall, the Sochi 2014 Olympics were one of the most impressive engineering and construction project in modern times. Being from Boston and having lived through the “Big Dig” – which was in essence one big long tunnel and took close to 12 years to complete – it was obvious you certainly did more than that in less time.

From the airport out, everything was brand new, from the roads, trains, hotels, and sidewalks to the Olympic venues, stadiums, ski resorts, cross country center, ski jumps and bobsled tracks. Some estimates have the total number of workers over 70,000. And the world came and camped out in your town. It was obvious that not all of this massive construction site was cleaned up or completed, but hey, amazing effort mate, well done!

300egan2.jpgI'm eager to hear how you feel about how the world treated you as our host during the Winter Olympics? The world showed up on your doorstep and you fed us, showed us around, and generously let the world invade and criticize the house that Putin built. For sure there are issues in your country and you certainly do things differently, plus we dug around a bit looking for the cracks in your sidewalks, so to speak, but I guess that was to be expected – with greatness come critics.

It was a blast meeting so many people. The Olympians, the volunteers, the families, and the Russian fans were so pumped up to be there. During the entire trip, I only heard the press complaining – I couldn't find one spectator, worker, athlete, or coach who had issues. Most only had praise and good things to say about you and your town’s people.

Oh, those "cracks" we found with your way of life? I didn't find one Russian who complained about the things the media reported. Funny?

Sochi, you are located in a beautiful part of the world. The Black Sea provided an amazing backdrop for the mountain events and the mountains loomed large stacked up behind the Olympic Park. I wish you success in the future, the same success and opportunities you provided to all athletes, the families, fans, media, and support personnel. I hope to be back one day as well to see how the place looks when you do finally get to complete the project.

Best of luck to you, Sochi, and once again a big Boston thank you!

Today at the Olympics: A final bobsledding medal for the US, Canada and Sweden to decide hockey gold

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 23, 2014 07:20 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Sunday, Feb. 23

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

The United States took yet another medal in bobsledding, as The Night Train team (Steve Holcomb, Christopher Fogt Curtis Tomasevicz, and Melrose’s Steve Langton) of USA 1 took bronze in the four-man Sunday. Russia took gold, and Latvia silver.

You can watch the bobsled during NBC’s afternoon coverage at 3 p.m.

Russia put a stranglehold on the medal count Sunday by sweeping the men’s 50 K mass start free in cross country. The three medals gave Russia a medal count of 33 (13 gold, 11 silver, and nine bronze). The USA has 28 overall medals (nine gold, seven silver, and 12 bronze). Saturday was the first day of the Sochi Olympics in which the US did not medal.

Medal watch:

Only the gold medal hockey game remains on the Soch schedule. A trio of Boston Bruins will come home with medals after the completion of the tournament. Goale Tuukka Rask already won bronze Saturday when Finland beat Team USA. On Sunday, Patrice Bergeron’s Canada and Loui Eriksson’s Sweden will square off th decide gold and silver (7 a.m., NBC).

Tweets from the athletes:

Julie Chu, who will carry the American flag during Sunday’s Closing Ceremony:

TJ Oshie wishing his NHL teammates luck in Sunday’s gold medal game:

Emily Cook on the final day in Sochi:

Photo of the day:

Sochi theme park designed to entice visitors to return

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 22, 2014 07:19 PM

When the Olympics are over, Russian officials hope visitors will return to Sochi. One component of that plan is a Disney-style theme park that was partially open during the games.

Watch as Dan Egan and David Filipov take you on a tour of it in the video above.

Today at the Olympics: A Wild finish for Russia, Team USA hopes to salvage hockey bronze, Ligety seeks slalom gold

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 22, 2014 07:17 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Saturday, Feb. 22

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

Vic Wild, the American who is snowboarding in Sochi under Russian citizenship, won his second gold medal of these Games in the parallel giant slalom on Saturday. Slovenia’s Zan Kosir won silver, and Austria’s Benjamin Karl won bronze.

Wild, who grew up in White Salmon, Wash., became a Russian citizen when he married Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in 2011 and moved to Moscow.

In the women’s slalom finals, Austria’s Julia Dujmovits took gold, while Germany’s Anke Karsten and Amelie Kober took silver and bronze, respectively.

The men’s slalom can be seen as part of NBC’s primetime coverage at 8 p.m. The women can be see on NBC at 3 p.m.

In cross-country, Norway swept the podium in the women’s 30 K mass start free (3 p.m., NBC). Barre Vt.’s Elizabeth Stephen finished 24th.

Medal watch:

It wasn’t the medal they were after, but the US men’s hockey team can still salvage bronze Saturday morning in the consolation game against Tuukka Rask and Team Finland (10 a.m., NBC Sports Network). Canada and Sweden will play for the gold on Sunday.

Bode Miller may be out of the running after tweaking his ankle, but gold medalist Ted Ligety will look to match Mikaela Shiffrin’s impressive gold-medal performance in the slalom event Saturday for another medal (NBC primetime).

In speed skating, the men’s and women’s team pursuits will both hand out medals (NBC primetime), as will the biathlon in the men’s relay 4x7 5 K (3 p.m., NBC).

Tweets from the athletes:

Mikaela Shiffrin, a product of Burke Mountain Academy, after winning gold in the women’s slalom:

US hockey player TJ Oshie in the wake of the 1-0 loss to Canada:

Oshie’s wife, Lauren Cosgrove:

Figure skater Marissa Castelli:

Photo of the day:

Mikaela Shiffrin had the golden recipe in slalom

Posted by Dan Egan February 21, 2014 06:00 PM


I’ll remember tonight for the rest of my life. It was one of those nights when you realize you are seeing someone really special perform something that has never been done before.

At 18, Mikaela Shiffrin is the youngest Olympic slalom champion of all time. It could be her youth, it could be her technique, or it could just be that she has a natural talent for shredding slalom like no one else in history. She is only the fourth US woman to strike gold in the Olympic slalom, and the last time was in 1972, when Barbara Cochran won in Sapporo, Japan.

Shiffrin is skiing at a unmatched level. She's mature, and she skis both strategically and tactically under pressure. She did it at the World Championships last year, and she has done it again here in Sochi. Her athleticism, her fierce competitive spirit, and her ability to shrug off the pressure is the perfect recipe for a champion. Plus, she believes she is good.

300ms2.jpg“She was really confident today and said a few things that made me think she would win today," said her coach, Roland Pfeifer. "I noticed when she was 16, she was really special and she really thinks 24/7 about skiing. She is full-on all the time and a real professional.”

The first run of the Olympics slalom started at 4:45 p.m. Sochi time, and it was a warm overcast day and the snow was soft. To firm the snow up, they added a lot of salt to ice over the surface.

The course had a lot of cranky turns in it, and the top 10 skiers had the fastest times because the snow held up for them, but after that the course had holes and ruts in it.

Marlies Schild of Austria moved from seventh in the first run to winning the silver. Kathrin Zettel won bronze.

“On the first run, I pushed my skis too hard and the snow gave way under my feet. On the second run I was able to change everything and won silver,” Schild said.

The second run began at 8:15 p.m., and the course was set a bit wider, with open turns, and the women could let their skis ride straighter through most of the course. The temperature dropped just enough to harden the snow, and the course was in much better shape.

The second run was book-ended with two Americans – the top 30 run in reverse – so New Hampshire’s Julia Ford was the first one down the coarse and Shiffrin ran 30th.

“Both of the women on the podium with me tonight were my childhood heroes, and I’m just honored to be up here with them," Shiffrin said. "I’ve proven to myself that I can win. The gold medal will change me the way I want to be changed. I’m still going to be the same girl, and looking for more speed on the mountain.”

With that statement, Shiffrin embarked on a media tour with her gold medal. She'll likely handle that as well as she handled the icy terrain on the FIS World Cup and the Olympics, and it's also likely we will have many more memorable runs performed by a true champion.

Today at the Olympics: A rematch between USA and Canada, Tuukka scratched for Finland, Shiffrin gets her shot at slalom

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 21, 2014 07:28 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Friday, Feb. 21

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

It hasn’t been a particularly busy day in Sochi thus far, with the day’s main events to come later on.

Canada took the top two spots in women’s ski cross Friday, with Marielle Thompson winning gold and Kelsey Serwa taking silver. Sweden’s Anna Holmund ended up with the bronze. The event will be replayed on NBC Friday afternoon (3 p.m.)

In men’s curling, Sweden knocked off China to win the bronze medal game. Canada and Great Britain will face off in the gold medal game at 8:30 a.m. (it can be seen on tape delay at 5 p.m. on CNBC).

Medal watch:

Friday’s main event comes at noon when the US and Canadian men’s hockey teams square off in a rematch of Vancouver’s gold medal game in 2010 (Noon, NBC Sports Network, replayed at 5 p.m.). The US is looking for its first gold medal since 1980, and will find itself in the gold medal game for the second straight Olympics with a win.

The winter of US-Canada will play the winner of Sweden-Finland (7 a.m., MBCSN, replayed at 3 p.m.) in the final game of the tournament on Sunday. The losers will match up in the bronze medal game Saturday morning. Finland goalie Tuukka Rask was a late scratch Friday morning after coming down with the flu.

In women’s skiing, Burke Mountain Academy product Mikaela Shiffrin looks to show her stuff in the slalom, her best event. The 18-year-old placed fifth in the giant slalom earlier this week, and is considered the favorite in the slalom (NBC primetime).

In biathlon, the women’s 4x6 relay will take place later Friday (9:30 a.m., NBCSN). Medals will also be handed out in a trio of short track speed skating disciplines, including the men’s 500 meter, women’s 1,000 meter, and men’s 5,000 meter relay (NBC primetime).

Tweets from the athletes:

US women’s hockey team member Hilary Knight after Team USA’s back-breaking defeat to Canada in the gold medal game on Thursday:

US center David Backes looking to bring home some furry friends in advance of his team’s showdown with Canada:

US figure skater Polina Edmunds:

Halfpipe gold medalist Maddie Bowman waiting for her Friday spot on the Today show:

Photo of the day:

After Olympics, Russians hope culture of volunteerism remains

Posted by Dan Egan February 20, 2014 05:15 PM
SOCHI, Russia – The volunteers at the Olympics are everywhere. They dot the streets, buses, venues and the Olympic Park.

They wear smiles on their faces and bright multi-colored uniforms that will be memories for me for a long time from the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In many ways, the Olympics are about exporting national pride and hope for what the future holds for the host country. In Sochi, the backbone for that message is the young volunteers.

Luke McCarthy of Durham, N.H., is a private English teacher in St. Petersburg. He thinks the games are a major monumental shift in the Russian youth culture that is volunteering here in Sochi.

McCarthy studied international relations and Russian studies at Purdue University, and has traveled around the world, including a 40-day hitch-hiking trip from Turkey and eastern Europe. After the Olympics, he is heading to India for a year to help the poor.

“These games have been a cultural revolution, and you can see it in the restaurants, the information centers, and the ticket lines. The Russian volunteers are smiling and saying hello in English – verses the older construction workers guys and the security guards are grunting and grimacing,” McCarthy said.

At any of the Olympic venues, one thing you always notice are the volunteers. They are the front-line staff and the face of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. My experience is they are really trying hard, and in many cases are more friendly and sincere than the youth of America in similar roles at McDonalds and rock concerts.

The average age of a volunteer at Sochi 2014 is 23, and around 82 percent of the 25,000 volunteers at Sochi are between 18 and 30. In reality, this Olympics is more like a youth convention and a pep rally for the young adults of Russia.

The volunteering program here in Sochi has provided one of the youngest volunteer workforces at an Olympic Games. It also introduced the barely known concept to Russia of volunteerism, organizers said. Only 7 percent of the volunteer workforce is international, and they come from 66 countries, including Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

The Russian word for hospitality is “gostepriimstvo,” which means “welcome guest.”

“The everyday Russian is a great host in their home only," McCarthy said. “Out on the street, they are a lot less polite. But somehow the Olympics have changed that and here in Sochi, these volunteers are treating people like Russia is their home.”

The hope and expectation for Russian organizers for these volunteers is that this experience will remain with the volunteers and be carried back to small villages, towns, and cities all through out this Russia.

"Only 3 percent of people were engaged in volunteer work in Russia when we started this project six years ago," Sochi 2014 head of volunteers Marina Pochinok said at a press conference. “Sochi's 2014 volunteer program has educated Russians about what volunteers are capable of and what skills they offer and to educate our people and to create a culture of volunteering.”

The Olympics is most significant event that has taken place in Russia since the fall of communism. Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is from St. Petersburg, has made national pride a major policy of his leadership. This generation knows four things about Russia: 1.) life was hard for their parents; 2.) life is good now; 3.) the future looks bright; and 4.) Putin provides economic opportunity.

"These volunteers have changed the way the world sees Russia,” McCarthy said, "and maybe more importantly changed the way Russian young adults sees themselves in the world.”

From the Tzars to Stalin and now Putin, Russian rulers have summered in Sochi.

“Sochi is the Russian Miami. Putin realizes that an old-style Soviet summer won’t work. So all of this new infrastructure looks and feels like Europe, so the investment has been worth it,” said Jim Brooke, the Russian Bureau Chief for Voice of America.

Regardless of the environmental and economic themes of corruption that will forever accompany these games, the feeling here is of “Russian Pride” that will go forward with the volunteers of this country.

“Yes there are many problems and limitations here in Russia," McCarthy said. "But there is a Russian saying that can be applied to almost any situation in this country that goes like this: 'We live in a closet here in Russia, but its a big roomy comfortable closet. so don’t push to hard against the door to get out'."

So with all of these young adults chanting “Russia, Russia" at all of the Olympic events, Putin may have achieved his Olympic dreams of an unified, proud Russian landscape, happy here in the closet.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect translation of the Russian word "gostepriimstvo."

Russia's Sotnikova had the golden formula

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 20, 2014 04:52 PM


Ice is slippery. Figure skating is hard. Olympic pressure is massive. Only the strong survive, and the toughest will win.

Adelina Sotnikova is figure skating’s new ice queen because she competed like a street fighter.

The 17-year-old Russian skated like she could taste the gold medal. From the determined look in her eyes at the start, right through to her triumphant finish, Sotnikova threw caution to the wind and said, “beat that.” More than any other competitor, she was going for gold with a vengeance and an attitude.

To the wild cheers of the Russian audience, Sotnikova did not let up or break down. It wasn’t flawless, and it didn’t have to be because Kim Yu Na couldn’t match it.

300yuna.jpgKim was the final skater, and she found herself in a place she’s rarely ever been – a tight race. The reigning Olympic champion would need to be close to perfect. She needed to skate with the strength and confidence she is known for.

Instead Kim was tight. Her usual fluidity was not there. Aside from turning the back end of a triple-triple into a double, there were no obvious mistakes. There was also no passion.

The best Olympic gold medal performances I have ever seen have one thing in common. Electricity. Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sara Hughes, and Tara Lipinski all had it. By the final minute of their programs, they were on fire. They could feel it and so did the audience.

Kim did not throw sparks this time. I felt she was slow, tight and cautious. And for anyone counting, she did one fewer triple than Sotnikova and lost some precious points there. Kim would settle for silver.

Italy’s Carolina Kostner took home the bronze with a nice free skate, although it was nowhere near the caliber of her short program. I like how Bolero worked for Torvill and Dean, but not so much for Kostner.

Kostner’s jumps were high and crisp, and the smile never left her face. With four skaters still to go, I thought her score was too high. And I definitely thought Gracie Gold could beat her.

Gold was the next to skate after Sotnikova, which was no easy task with crowd going wild. Her program began beautifully. With many of her toughest elements out of the way, Gold lost focus on a triple flip and hit the ice.

300gold.jpgThere would be no ‘fist pump’ after the final double axel this time. Gold has come a long way in a very short time. She is only 18. Coach Frank Carroll has been great for Gold’s confidence.

More than anything else, I think Gracie Gold has everything it takes to be the best female skater in the world. She should be very proud of her 4th place finish, and it will be fun to watch her grow as a skater and a personality over the next four years.

Ashley Wagner was a much better Delilah than a Juliet. The music change was a good move. I liked how she attacked both her short and free skate at these Olympics. A couple of two-foot landings took away too many points, and Wagner would finish 7th.

Out of the running was Russia’s golden girl, Julia Lipnitskaia. After leading her country to the gold medal in the team event, Lipnitskaia crumbled on her own. It was too much weight to put on the shoulders of a 15-year-old. Lipnitskaia settled for 5th.

The 15-year-old from California had no such pressure.

Once again, Polina Edmunds proved she can play with the big girls. A top ten finish in her first Olympics is a terrific accomplishment. Edmund’s overall consistency is amazing. She is more of a jumper than an artist at this point, although that will change as her skating matures.

The warrior award goes to Japan’s Mao Asada. This skater was a serious medal contender before her disastrous short program. Asada was the only woman in this competition to attempt a triple axle. It’s her make-or-break jump, and she missed it badly in the short.

Buried in 16th place, Asada, skated in an early group and laid down the best skate of the night. She nailed the triple axel along with everything else.

Asada skated with heart and guts. Her performance in the free skate will be one my favorite Olympic moments.

Russia wanted gold in men’s hockey and didn’t come close. The toughest Russian on ice in Sochi was Adelina Sotnikova.

And to think just a few days ago nobody knew her name.

Today at the Olympics: A gold medal showdown for USA and Canada in women's hockey, Gold, Wagner look to medal in figure skating

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 20, 2014 07:33 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Thursday, Feb. 20

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

It has been a quiet morning in Sochi for results thus far on Thursday. France swept the podium in the men’s ski cross freestyle finals, with Jean Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta, and Jonathan Midol taking the top three spots. It was the country’s first-ever sweep at the Winter Olympics.

The US’s John Teller, considered the country’s best shot at placing, did not make it into the quarterfinals of the event. The ski cross can be seen as part of NBC’s primetime package Thursday night.

Norway won the Nordic combined, followed by Germany and Austria. The US placed sixth in the competition.

Medal watch:

It’s all about US-Canada hockey the next two days. The men will square off Friday at noon in the semifinal game, a rematch of 2010’s epic gold medal showdown in Vancouver. On Thursday, the women face off for the second time in two weeks in the gold medal game (Noon, NBC). The US’s lone loss of these Olympics came at the hands of the undefeated Canadians last week. The bronze medal game pits Sweden against Switzerland (7:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network).

Canada is also going for gold in the women’s curling final (tape delay, 5 p.m., CNBC). Great Britain beat Switzerland, 6-5, earlier in the day for the bronze medal.

In Thursday’s free skate, Americans Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold are both in good positions for figure skating medals. Wagner, Gold, and Polina Edmunds all sit in the top seven after the short program (10 a.m., NBCSN). The ladies’ ski halfpipe finals will also take place, with Americans Brita Sigourney, Maddie Bowman, Andover’s Annalisa Drew, and Angeli Vanlaanen among the competitors (NBC primetime).

Tweets from the athletes:

US skier Ted Ligety after winning gold in Wednesday’s giant slalom:

Bobsledder Elana Meyers, who won silver Wednesday.

Gracie Gold after her short program:

Meanwhile, Ashley Wagner seemed to have found a crush:

Hilary Knight (Boston Blades) looking forward to the gold medal game:

Photo of the day:

The Sochi bear, not reacting well to Russia’s loss to Finland:

Kim Yu Na in lead for women's figure skating, but her competition is close

Posted by Staff February 19, 2014 06:52 PM


South Korea's Kim Yu Na performed in the women's figure skating short program at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 19, 2014. (Adrian Dennis /AFP PHOTO / Getty Images)

They call Kim Yu Na “the queen” for a reason. The South Korean skater ruled the ice four years ago in Vancouver, and appears to have no intention of relinquishing her crown. The skater that took a “hiatus” for almost two years is better than ever. Kim’s short program was flawless. Her jumps have height, distance and feather light landings.

Kim deserves to be in first place going into the free skate, except this time she doesn’t lead by a mile. Instead Kim has two skaters nipping at her heels. Less than one point separates the top three ladies.

A Russian teenager sits in second place, and not the Russian we thought it would be. Adelina Sotnikova now carries Russia’s hopes for gold. She wore a bright red dress and brought a killer instinct into her short program. The 17 year old will be carrying the weight of Russia on her shoulders into the free skate, and something tells me it won’t be a problem.

The rising Russian star was supposed to be 15 year old Julian Lipnitskaia, who performed so beautifully in the team competition. She fell on her triple flip in Thursday's short, and that was that.

The most artistic and pleasing to the eye performance in the short belonged to Italy’s Carolina Kostner. She was flawless in her white dress skating to the classic Ave' Maria. I’ve seen my share of Ave’ Maria’s through the years, and none better than Kostner’s.

The Italian skater is no stranger to the Olympic stage. This is her third Winter Games, and she skates like a veteran. The bronze medal will be either hers or go to American Gracie Gold.

Gold has learned how to be a competitor under new coach Frank Carroll. In the short program you need to fight through each element and stand up, which is exactly what Gold did. In my mind, Gold is without a doubt worthy of the Olympic podium.

So are the three skaters ahead of her.

In fifth we have Lipnitskaia who appears to have lost the wind from her sails. Maybe all the hype that has followed her the past week has caught up to her. Once the Russian hockey team lost it was all on her. Too much pressure.

No worries for Lipnitskaia. She is 15, and could easily be around for the next two Olympics.

American Ashley Wagner sits in 6th place. Wagner came out of the gate like a caged beast. She easily is the best thing that ever happened to Pink Floyd. A two footed landing on the triple combination cost her some valuable points.

I like how Wagner is bringing an attitude to her skating. After getting the Olympic nod in a storm of controversy, Wagner is making a statement. She is proving to be completely Olympic worthy- and that’s a win for her.

Rounding out the American girls is Polina Edmonds. At the U.S. Championships in January this young skater came out of nowhere to place second. Edmunds rocked her “cha-cha” one more time. The program had great jumps and lots of energy. Her seventh place finish after the short is very impressive and bodes very well for the future.

It all comes down to the free skate. Woody Allen talked about 30 seconds of fame. Each of these ladies will get four minutes, and it promises to be epic.

Ted Ligety proves he's king of giant slalom

Posted by Dan Egan February 19, 2014 11:37 AM


There was plenty of praise heaped on American Ted Ligety following his victory in the giant slalom at the Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

A sampling:

Bode Miller called Ligety "the best GS racer of all time."

US Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick : "He hates to lose and he trains the hardest and technically there is no one better.”

Alexis Pinturault, who won the bronze medal, said “Ted is the fastest GS guy in the world. We all know it.”

300ligety1.jpgSo what is the magic sauce for Ligety?

“I’m a student of the sport. I analyze the top skiers and I focus on what I can do to go faster. I want to win and I want to keep winning,” Ligety said after he became the second American to win two Olympic gold medals. Andrea Mead-Lawrence won both the slalom and giant slalom at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway.

Calm in the face of the pressure is might also be part of his formula for winning.

“There is a lot of pressure for me because I was the favorite, and none of the favorites have won here in Sochi so far. I’m the first and I felt the pressure, but it’s my third Olympics and I knew I was prepared to do it," Ligety said.

In the second run Wednesday, the GS course had big holes and ruts, especially on the steep section above the flats. Racers were getting bounced around the steeps, which caused them to lose speed on the flats.

“Basically if you slowed down above the steeps and skied a tight line, you could make the speed up on the flats, which is what I did,” Ligety said.

Ligety has perfected the “Skivit” which is a move he makes above the gate. What he does is skids the ski into position and then pressures the edge and carves out of the turn. This allows him to ski a tight line, minus the acceleration, above the gate. It has become his signature move and few if any do it as well as Ligety.

“Look, he is technically perfect, his tactics are strong and he knows he can win,“ said
NBC Olympics radio announcer and Olympian Doug Lewis.

Meanwhile New Hampshire's Bode Miller finished 20th on Wednesday.

“Bode is having equipment issues. Imagine, he has been racing for 17 years and he still is changing out equipment between runs at the Olympics,” Lewis said.

Ligety has been training on this mountain in Sochi for a number of years because of an agreement between the Russian Ski Federation and the US Ski Team. Both teams train together in South America, Colorado, and in Sochi.

That paid off big time for Ligety.

“I know this mountain and I knew to be careful on the knoll. The first time I trained here two years ago I didn't finish one run on that trail,” he said.

Miller did not take part in those training sessions.

Ligety put to bed the failings of Vancouver in Sochi. When asked about it, he just shrugged.

“That was four years ago and four FIS World Cup titles ago. I don’t think about it at all,” he said.

The US Ski Team has a dominant force in Ligety, who is only 29 and has his sights set on 2018 and beyond. He is a mellow guy, with blonde hair and a smile and he has confidently confirmed that he is the best in the world in GS.

Today at the Olympics: Ted Ligety dominates, Bode Miller's Olympic career is over, US men's hockey takes on Czech Republic

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 19, 2014 07:19 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Wednesday, Feb. 19

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

Ted Ligety became the first American skier to win Olympic gold in the men’s giant slalom Wednesday, with a dominating total time of 2:45.29. Teammate Bode Miller finished the event a distant 20th.

Ligety’s second run was only the 14th-best among the competitors, but his stellar first run time of 1:21.08 was still enough to fend off France’s Steve Missillier, who won silver. France also won a bronze, as Alexis Pinturault took third place.

Miller tweaked his knee during the first run of the giant slalom, and announced after the race that he will not compete in this weekend’s slalom event. The New Hampshire native ends his Olympic career as the most decorated American skier ever.

The event can be seen as part of NBC primetime lineup Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, in snowboarding, Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer, Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi, and Russia’s Alena Zavarazina took the top three spots, respectively, in the women’s parallel giant slalom. Russia’s Vic Wild (Zavarazina’s husband), Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini, and Slovenia’s Zan Kosir took gold, silver, and bronze, respectively, in the men’s event.

In men’s ice hockey, Bruins forward Loui Erikkson scored a goal as Sweden shut out Slovenia, 5-0. Henrik Lundqvist earned the shutout in net, as Sweden moves on to face the winner of today’s Finland-Russia showdown (7:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network) in the semifinals.

Medal watch:

The US men’s hockey team will play for the first time since Sunday when it takes on the Czech Republic in the tournament’s quarterfinal round (Noon, USA Network). The winner will move on to play the winner of Canada-Latvia (Noon, MSNBC) in the semifinals.

In figure skating, the women’s short program kicks off on Wednesday (10 a.m., NBCSN), with Gracie Gold, who won the US Figure Skating title in Boston last month as well as a bronze medal in last week’s team event, among the skaters. Ashley Wagner is also among the favorites in the competition.

In women’s bobsled, United States 1, led by Elana Myers and Lauryn Williams, sits in first place after two heats with a solid chance at winning gold in the event (NBC primetime). In cross-country, medals will be awarded in the men’s team sprint classic final. The women’s classic wrapped up early Wednesday morning, with Norway, Finland, and Sweden taking the top three spots (both can be seen at 3 p.m., NBC). Also airing at 3 will be the women’s 5,000 meter speed skating event, with American Maria Lamb among the competitors.

Tweets from the athletes:

Bode Miller and Mikaela Shiffrin congratulating teammate Ted Ligety on his gold in the giant slalom:

Freestyle skier David Wise, not wanting to give too much away after winning gold in the halfpipe on Tuesday:

Reality sets in for Hannah Kearney:

San Jose Shark Tomas Hertl has a bit of faith in his country going up against Team USA Wednesday:

Gold medalist Tina Maze, a big Whitney Houston fan:

Elana Myers, going for bobsled gold:

Photo of the day:

David Wise scores gold in skiing halfpipe

Posted by Dan Egan February 18, 2014 02:15 PM
David Wise won the gold medal in the men's skiing halfpipe competition at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park Tuesday evening.

300wise.jpgIt was a clinic, and Wise was the professor. The Northstar, Calif., resident added Olympic gold to a long list of achievements, including three X Games golds.

Wise posted a first-run score of 92.00 in the final to claim the title, 1.40 points ahead of the 90.60 by silver medalist Mike Riddle of Canada. Kevin Rolland of France won the bronze medal with an 88.60.

Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) was seventh with a score of 79.40. Torin Yater-Wallace (Basalt, Colo.) finished 26th and Lyman Currier (Boulder, Colo.) was 28th.

We caught up with his family just after the winning run in Sochi. Watch their reactions in the video above.

Today at the Olympics: Deibold races his way to crossboard glory, a solid debut for Shiffrin

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 18, 2014 07:27 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Tuesday, Feb. 18

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

Vermont’s Alex Deibold pulled in a bronze medal in Tuesday’s crossboard finals. Deibold made the final run by narrowly fending off teammate Trevor Jacob in the semi finals. France's Pierre Vaultier won gold, while silver went to Nikolay Olyunin of Russia.

In women’s giant slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin, a product of Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, came up just short in her quest for a medal, finishing fifth overall. The 18-year-old, making her Olympic debut, has another shot in the slalom, a discipline in which she is the world champion.

Slovenia’s Tina Maze won her second gold of the Games with giant slalom total time of 2:36.87. Silver went to Austria’s Anna Fenninger; bronze to Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg. The US’s Julia Mancuso did not finish the first run.

In short track speed skating, Korea, Canada, and Italy placed 1-2-3 in the women’s 3,000 meter relay.

All three events can be seen as part of NBC’s prime time package Tuesday evening.

Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen won gold in the men’s 15 K mass start biathlon. American Tim Burke placed 21st overall.

In men’s ice hockey, Slovenia beat Austria, 4-0, in the qualifying round, and moves on to play Sweden in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Medal watch:

The halfpipe freestyle skiing event makes its Olympic debut in Sochi Tuesday, with Americans Aaron Blunck, David Wise, Lyman Currier, and Torin Yater-Wallace among the competitors (prime time, NBC).

The eyes of hockey fans across the country will be glued to NBC Sports Network at noon, when the Czech Republic takes on Slovakia in the qualifying round. The winner will move on to play Team USA in the quarterfinals. Also at noon, Switzerland plays Latvia for the right to face Canada (MSNBC), and Russia and Norway square off to decide who will play Finland (7:30 a.m., NBCSN).

Medals will also be handed out in nordic combined and men’s speed skating (10,000 meters, 3 p.m., NBC).

Tweets from the athletes:

Melrose’s Steve Langton after winning a bronze medal in the two-man bobsled.

Two-man driver Steve Holcomb:

Alex Deibold on winning bronze:

Team USA hockey player Julie Chu chimed in:

Meryl Davis after ice dancing her way to the US’s first gold medal in ice dancing:

Partner Charlie White:

Aaron Blunck preparing for the first-ever Olympic skiing halfpipe event:

Photo of the day:

Steven Holcomb, Steve Langton make American history in bobsled

Posted by Staff February 17, 2014 11:59 AM


US bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb made American history in 2010 with his four-man sled winning the country’s first four-man gold medal in 62 years, and he and brakeman Steve Langton were looking to make more history in the two-man bobsled final on Monday at the Winter Olympics.

Holcomb and Langton, who is a native of Melrose, completed their quest with a strong showing in the two-man, winning the bronze medal with a total time of 3:46.27. The US had not won a medal in two-man bobsledding since 1952.

469933453.jpgTheir final time was just .03 seconds ahead of fourth place Russians Alexander Kasjanov and Maxim Belugin.

Russia’s Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda, who led after the first day of two-man, took gold with a total combined time of 3:45.39. Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann, who were in second after day one, won silver after totaling 3:46.05.

Holcomb and Langton finished the first day of two-man in third place with a total time of 1:53.18, .36 behind Zubkov and Voevoda for first place and .04 behind Hefti and Baumann for second.

Fellow Americans Cory Butner and Chris Fogt, who were in third place after the first run, fell to ninth after the second run and finished the event in 12th with a total time of 3:47.19. The third American team of Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson finished the two-man in with a total time of 3:47.69, good for 13th.

Snowboard technician Curtis Bacca is the wax whisper at Olympics

Posted by Dan Egan February 17, 2014 07:31 AM
Curtis Bacca has been the magic sauce behind gold medals, World Cup wins and X Games champions for two decades as the US Ski and Snowboard technician for big names like, Kyle Rasmussen, Shawn Palmer, and two time Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott.

Bacca is one of the few American-born "wax techs" to have such honors.

Curtis Bacca.jpg

Hailing from Sun Valley, Idaho, where he runs an elite ski and snowboard shop that specializes in high-end race snowboards, he has the reputation of something of a mystic.

"I have won the big races because my boards are fast, and they are fast because Bacca works on them. I don't ask him why, I just know that they are," Wescott said.

Bacca himself can't say for sure what the exact formula is for a quick ski or snowboard, but knows it's a mix between science and technology,

"It's intuitive, just by walking around I can tell by the feel of the snow and the temp in the air what will win on a certain day. When my athletes don't win, I get mad and do more research. I'm testing all the time," Bacca said.

He prides himself on being a "note taker" and knows that after 20 years of World Cup and Olympics racing, his experience is as valuable as the new technology.

"I can remember what wax, what weather, and what conditions won in France in 1992," Bacca said. "And that is the value in being around this for a long time. Certain situations come up and you know what to do with them."

He works on the equipment of Lindsey Jacobellis, who won a silver medal at the 2006 Torino Olympics, has 26 World Cup wins, nine X Games medals (seven gold), and has been dominating the circuit for almost seven straight seasons.

Becca causally waxes, scrapes and prepares test boards for each day.

"We techs share a bit of information, but not too much. It's an individual sport and I want my athletes to win, and win big," Bacca said.

Today at the Olympics: US seeks first two-man bobsled medal since 1936; White, Davis, look to win gold in ice dancing

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 17, 2014 06:36 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Monday, Feb. 17

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

It has been a slow day in Sochi thus far, with medal events taking place later in the day. In curling, Korea smoked the US women, 11-2, while the men were down, 2-0 to Switzerland as of 6 a.m. (5 a.m., USA Network).

Medal watch:

Driver Steve Holcomb, and push man Steve Langton, from Melrose, look to become the first two-man US bobsled team to medal since 1936. After two heats, the pair currently sits in third place. The final two heats will take place later this morning and can be seen as part of NBC’s primetime coverage Monday night (or, beginning at 9:30 a.m., streamed, as all events can be on NBCOlympics.com).

In ice hockey, the US men were one of four teams to receive a bye into the next round with their eight points, but things start getting serious for the women Monday, when they take on Sweden in the semifinal round (7:30 a.m., NBCSN). Canada will face Switzerland in its semifinal showdown (Noon, MSNBC).

The free dance in ice dancing takes place later this morning as well (10 a.m., NBC Sports Network), with Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, in the mix, but it’s the US’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White who lead the way with a score of 78.89 ( a world record), and are line for the country’s first ice dancing gold.

In freestyle skiing, Connecticut’s Mac Bohonnon is among the competitors (3 p.m., NBC), while Nate Holland, Nick Baumgartner, and Trevor Jacob all chase medals in snowboard cross. On Monday morning, the event was postponed until Tuesday due to foggy conditions. The biathlon men’s 15K mass start was also postponed.

In ski jumping, the US will soar second as the men’s team jump takes place (1:30 p.m., NBCSN).

Tweets from the athletes:

Amanda Kessel as her team gets set for the semifinals:

Skater Maia Shibutani:

Andrew Weibrecht on his silver in the men’s Super G:

Bode Miller’s wife, Morgan, after the skier made history with a bronze medal in the Super G:

From Johnny Moseley to Mac Bohonnon:

Photo of the day:

Today at the Olympics: A historic finish for Bode Miller, Jacobellis comes up short

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 16, 2014 07:16 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Sunday, Feb. 16

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

One day after US women failed to medal in the Super G, the men came up big on Sunday.

Andrew Weibrecht won a surprising silver, while New Hampshire’s Bode Miller also earned his first medal of these Winter Games, tying Canada’s Jan Hudak for a bronze medal.

With the medal, Miller added to his total that makes him the most decorated American Alpine skier in Olympic history with six. Miller also won bronze in the downhill in Vancouver four years ago, silver in the Super G at Vancouver, and in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and won gold in the super combined in Vancouver.

Both Miller and Hudak had identical run times of 1:18.67.

Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won gold with a time of 1:18.14. You can catch the event as part of NBC’s primetime coverage Sunday night.

Meanwhile, in women’s snowboard cross, Connecticut’s Lindsey Jacobellis finished seventh, while teammate Faye Gulini finished just out of medal contention in fourth place. Gold went to Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic, while Canada’s Dominique Maltais and France’s Chloe Trespeuch won silver and bronze, respectively.

In curling, the US women were losing to Russia, 5-4, as of 6:45 a.m. The US men lost to Canada, 8-6. In cross country, Sweden, Russia, and France finished 1-2-3 in the men’s relay 4x10, with the US finishing a distant 11th.

Medal watch:

After Saturday’s thrilling shootout victory over Russia, the US men’s hockey team will face off against Slovenia Sunday morning (7:15 a.m., NBC Sports Network). Russia will play Slovakia at 7:30 a.m. (USA Network), while Canada takes on Finland (Noon, USA Network).

Medals will be awarded in the women’s 1,500 meter short-track speed-skating event as well (primetime, NBC). The two-man bobsled also gets underway on Sunday, with favorite Steve Holcomb and Melrose’s Steve Langton among the competitors.

Tweets from the athletes:

Bode Miller on winning bronze:

Mikaela Shiffrin on Miller’s bronze:

Kjetil Jansrud on his gold-medal performance in the Super G.

TJ Oshie after his stellar shootout performance against Russia on Saturday:

Photo of the day:

It's more like the spring Olympics in Sochi

Posted by Dan Egan February 15, 2014 10:14 AM
Sochi, Russia is known as a summer resort. Many wondered what the weather would be like in this part of Russia for the Winter Olympics, and last year at the test events it was warm, but not as warm as it has been this week.

Here at the 2014 Olympics, it's more like spring weather with temperatures up as high as 60 degrees, and it is affecting the snow quite a bit. The men's mogul course was a sea of slush, and the landings on the jumps had big holes punched into the soft snow.

In the men's super combined event, Olympic organizers started the downhill portion of the competition an hour earlier hoping the snow would stay firm for the event. It didn't. The halfpipe had ruts and bumps in it, and snowboarder Danny Davis called it the worst pipe he has seen in nearly a decade.

In the video above, Doug Charko, who is the meteorologist for Team Canada, gave us some insight on the conditions and what we can expect heading into next week.

Today at the Olympics: It's time for the anticipated USA-Russia hockey showdown; US women skiers not so super in the Super G

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 15, 2014 07:04 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Saturday, Feb. 15

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

What was supposed to be a wildly successful Winter Games for US Alpine skiers hasn’t exactly turned out that way. Julia Mancuso failed to medal in the women’s Super-G on Saturday, finishing eighth, more than a second and-a-half off the pace. North Conway N.H.’s Leanne Smith had a nice showing, finishing 18th. Fellow Americans Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross did not finish the event.

Gold went to Austria’s Anna Fenninger, with Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Austria’s Nicole Hosp took silver and bronze, respectively.

You can watch the Super G as part of NBC’s primetime coverage Saturday night.

In cross-country, Sweden took gold in the ladies’ relay 4x5 K race. The US squad finished ninth.

In men’s ice hockey, Slovenia beat Slovakia, 3-1, and in women’s ice hockey quarterfinals, Sweden beat Finland, 4-2.

Medal watch:

Today’s biggest event is the anticipated matchup between the US men’s hockey team and Russia, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on NBC Sports Network. Other showdowns include Switzerland and the Czech Republic (Noon, USA Network), and Sweden vs.Latvia (Noon, MSNBC).

The women’s shirt track 1,500 meter finals can be seen at 3 p.m. on NBC, while the men’s 1,000 meter race will be saved for primetime. Medals will also be awarded in the men’s 1,500 meter speed skating event (prime time), ski jumping (men’s large hill individual final; primetime), and skeleton (10 a.m., NBCSN).

Tweets from the athletes:

San Francisco 49er Vernon Davis in the house, for whatever reason:

Keeping busy during downtime:

Nick Goepper now has his own personalized donut in Denver:

Fellow skier Jen Hudack after Belmont’s Emily Cook announced these would be her final Olympics on Friday:

Julia Mancuso on coming up short in the women’s Super G:

Picture of the day:

It's all about the quad in men's figure skating at Sochi

Posted by Robert Burgess February 14, 2014 04:45 PM


American Jason Brown had a chance at the bronze, but finished in 9th place.

You live by the quad and you die by the quad. The strongest field ever in in the men’s Olympic figure skating event succumbed to the pressure of the Olympic stage, and to their own worst enemy: the quad.

After watching this competition, I think skating should think of banning the quad. Wishful thinking, I know.

Four years ago American Evan Lysachek did not need a quad to win Olympic gold.  Those days are over. The quad is here to stay, love it or hate it.

The men’s competition was a jump-a-thon on ice. Quads were landed and quads were missed. It takes so speed and strength to do this jump, that when it’s botched, it can be ugly. Just ask Jeremy Abbott.

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu broke a scoring record with a nearly perfect short program. He was anything but in the free skate. The program started with a big splat on a quad, although Hanyu would recover to land the next one. 

To Hanyu’s credit, he did not become completely unraveled. After a near fall on a triple flip he gutted it out to the end. A smart skater knows it’s never over until it’s over, and every precious point can be priceless.

At age 19, Hanyu has a terrific future. He has exceptional edge quality, and his elegant style is beyond his years. He can only get better.

When Patrick Chan took the ice the Canadian was well aware that the door to gold was wide open. The three time defending world champion did not seize them moment. The usually solid Chan was stiff and shaky. The jumps were leaning, the landings scratchy, and the overall execution unsure.

Chan lacked his usual power, speed and confidence. I also noticed that the emotion that he usually shows during a performance was not the same.

American Jason Brown was the final skater, and still had a chance for a bronze medal. Brown has adopted the strategy this season to forget about the quad and just skate clean. It worked on the international circuit and it led to a second place finish at the U.S. Championships.

It didn’t work in Sochi. The usually consistent Brown skated was off his mark in the free skate. His jumps were off, his speed and flow were missing, even his happy go lucky Irish steps didn’t look quite right. Brown fell to 9th place.

The surprise bronze medalist is Denis Ten who represents Kazakhstan. The 2013 world silver medalist actually lives in California and trains with legendary coach Frank Carroll. Ten made the podium because he was one of the few skaters that didn’t mess up. There is something to be said about going into Olympic competition as a long shot. No pressure.

After crashing and burning in the short program, America’s Jeremy Abbott played it safe in the free skate. This time he abandoned the quad, which I think was a good move. The four time U.S. champion closed out his career with a personal best free program. Abbott looked a little cautious, and I can’t blame him after the spill he took in the short.

As disappointing as his 12th place finish may be, I hope Abbott can one day appreciate his legacy. He thought about quitting after that fall, and chose to get up. He looked like he was down for the count, and like a true fighter got off the mat.

Abbott has plenty to be proud of.

The men’s free skate overall was a bit of a disappointment. I think a healthy Plushenko would have changed the vibe. His withdrawal before the short program for medical reasons was a bummer. I am not surprised his back gave out.

The land of quad is not where a 31 year old will survive very long. The jump, the falls, and even the clean landings will take its  toll on a skater’s body. The older they get, the more it’s going to hurt.

With that being said, Jason Brown better have that quad ready for 2018.

He’s gonna need it.

Emily Cook has her best finish in women's aerial freestyle

Posted by Staff February 14, 2014 01:10 PM


The US's Emily Cook attempted her full-double full jump in the first round of the women's aerial freestyle skiing event Friday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belmont’s Emily Cook, competing in the women’s aerial freestyle skiing final, took a spill in the second round of the competition Friday, ending her quest for an Olympic medal.

Despite the disappointment, Cook's eighth place mark was still her best finish in her illustrious 15-year career.

The six-time US champion, who has competed in two prior Olympics, was ranked second in the world cup aerial skiing standings coming into the Sochi Olympics, but the 34-year-old has never medaled. She finished 11th overall in aerials in 2010 and 19th overall in 2006.

Cook scored an 82.27 on her first jump to advance to the second round of the event, sitting in fifth place before attempting the full-double full jump again in the second round. But she was unable to stick her landing on the second jump, scoring a 64.50 that would have require quite a bit of help for her to advance to the third and final round.

Today at the Olympics: Disappointment for Miller, Ligety, a pair of US women in medal contention in skeleton

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 14, 2014 07:40 AM

Each day throughout the Winter Olympics, we'll bring you a daily rundown on what to expect and a look at key story lines in Sochi.

What to watch today, Friday, Feb. 14

While you were sleeping (spoilers):

It was another disappointing finish for US men skiers Friday in the super-combined, as New Hampshire’s Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Jared Goldberg, and Andrew Weinbrecht (did not finish), all finished out of medal contention. Miller, who was aiming for a defense of his combined gold medal in Vancouver four years ago, was 12th after the downhill portion of the combined, while Ligety was a distant 18th. Both skiers managed to grab third place during the slalom run, but were eventually bumped off the podium. Miller finished sixth overall, while Ligety 13th, one spot behind teammate Goldberg.

Switzerland's Sando Viletta (who finished 14th in the downhill, second in the slalom), won gold, while Croatia's Ivica Kostelic (seventh, third) and Italy's Chrstof Innerhofer (eighth, third), won silver and bronze, respectively.

You can catch the combined as part of NBC’s prime time coverage Friday night.

In cross country, Switzerland’s Dario Cologna won the gold medal. Concord, N.H.’s Kris Freeman finished 52nd with a time of 41:44.7.

In curling, the US men pulled off another victory with an 8-5 win over Germany early Friday morning. The US women, who pulled off a comeback victory over Japan on Thursday, were losing to Denmark, 9-2, as of 7:30 a.m.

In men’s ice hockey, Jaromir Jagr scored for the second straight game as the Czech Republic beat Latvia, 4-2.

Medal watch:

Belmont’s Emily Cook is still seeking her first Olympic medal, something she’ll have a chance to accomplish during Friday’s women’s aerials. Teammate Ashley Caldwell, who reached the finals in Vancouver at the age of 16, will also compete (12:30 p.m., TV coverage begins at 3 p.m., NBC).

The third and fourth heats of women’s skeleton take place on Friday (NBC, primetime), with Americans Noelle Pikus-Pace (sitting in second place heading into the third heat) and Katie Uhlaender (fourth) in prime positions to secure medals.

While the US awaits its showdown with Russia Saturday, the Canadian men’s hockey team will play for the second straight day when it takes on Austria (Noon, USA Network). Sweden will also take on Switzerland (7:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network), and Norway will face Finland (Noon, MSNBC).

In men’s figure skating, even after his tumble in the short program on Thursday, American Jeremy Abbott still sits in ninth place heading into Friday’s free program (10 a.m., NBCSN).

Tweets from the athletes:

Bode Miller after his finish in the combined:

Slopestyle medalists Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper:

Just in case the women’s skeleton athlete forgot her final two heats Friday:

Teammate Katie Uhlaender didn’t need the reminder:

Vermonter Hannah Kearney’s, um, cool shirt:

Julia Mancuso cracked the code of the Sochi slogan:

Photo of the day:

Matthew Antoine of the U.S. speeds down the track during the men's skeleton event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor February 14, 2014. Picture taken using multiple exposure. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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