Sochi Day 2: U.S. Completes Slopestyle Sweep

The U.S. swept the snowboard slopstyle event with a win by Jamie Anderson in the second day of competition in the Winter Olympics.

The second day of competition at the Sochi Games ended Sunday with Norway atop the medal board, the U.S. in third and with Russia finally exerting its power.

Behind those rankings were some remarkable performances, on ice and snow.

Here are some of them.

America’s slopestyle sweep

A day after American slopestyle snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won Sochi’s first gold medal, teammate Jamie Anderson won the women’s event, giving the United States a sweep in the competition’s Olympic debut.

Enni Rukajarvi of Finland took silver and Jennie Jones of Britain won bronze.

Considered one of the greatest slopestylers of her generation, Anderson, 23, said she struggled to maintain a sense of calm before her championship run.

She’d crashed during a Wednesday training run, and talked about how difficult the course had been.

But in the end, she almost made it look easy.

"I think most of us have been thinking about this for a few years," Anderson said, according to The Associated Press. "To just have that moment come so quick and really knowing this is your moment, you just want to shine and do your best and show the world what a fun sport snowboarding is."

Russia’s first medal

It took until Sunday, but the host country finally got on the medal board.

The first medal, a bronze, came as a bit of a surprise.

Speedskater Olga Graf wasn’t expected to land on the podium in the women’s 3,000 meters. But her run of 4:03:47 drew roars from the home crowd. Graf, looking a bit stunned, Graf raised her arms in triumph. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulations.

She ended up in third, while Dutch skater Ireen Wust won the gold. Defending Olympic champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic won silver.

Later came the Russians’ first gold, in the team figure skating competition, led by 31-year-old legend Evgeny Plushenko and 15-year-old sensation Yulia Lipnitskaya. The Russians ran away in the inaugural team event, with 75 points to second place Canada’s 65 and America’s 60.

The current medal standings are: Norway first, with seven medals, two of them gold; Netherlands second, with four medals, including two golds, and the U.S. third, with four medals, including two golds.

Gracie Gold’s debut

The team figure skating’s Sunday program also featured the Olympic debut of another young skater, American Gracie Gold. She didn’t disappoint.

For months, Gold has been the face of American medal hopes, a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old. But she handled the pressure with poise, and no big errors.

With that, Gold positioned herself as among the small group of favorites in the individual competition, which begins later this week.

Ashley Wagner’s meme

One of Gold’s teammates Ashley Wagner caused a stir of an entirely different kind.

After a redemptive mistake-free routine in Saturday’s short skate program of the team competition, Wagner sat in the kiss-and-cry room to watch her scores come in.

This was a special moment for Wagner, who once ranked fourth in the world but barely made the Olympic team after placing fourth in the U.S. national championships. Many questioned whether she belonged in Sochi, and her first routine there was sign that she did.

But when Wagner saw her score — 63.10, which put her in fourth place — her outraged expression was captured on national television.

The image was captured and bounced around the internet. It also became the most rewatched moment among TiVo viewers, the company said Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

The second most rewatched moment was of Lipnitskaya spinning with one leg held vertically over her head during her short program routine.

Bode’s flameout

That awesome showdown everyone was expecting in the men’s downhill between veterans American Bode Miller and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal?

Didn’t happen.

Miller, who skied the fastest times in two of the three training runs, made a costly error Sunday that slowed him on a key jump and ruined his chances at any kind of medal.

The impact was apparent as soon as Miller crossed the finish line: he crouched down, head slumped, while his wife stared expressionless and American fans fell silent.

Miller ended up in eighth. Svindal was a little better, coming in fourth.

The winner was someone no one expected: 23-year-old Matthias Mayer of Austria, who’d never won a major international race.

Later, Miller told reporters what happened: he changed tactics on race day, trying for a more riskier approach. It failed him.

Miller, who has five Olympic medals, will be back on the mountain later this week for the combined, in which he won the gold in Vancouver.

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