Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.
None were able to overtake Farrington, who just missed one of the three spots in the final handed out during the second heat of qualification. However, she punched her ticket to the final by posting the top score of 87.00 in the semifinals.
Clark and Teter clinched spots in the final in the qualification round. The 30-year-old Clark won halfpipe gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and took a bronze in Vancouver.
Teter was a silver medalist in this event in Vancouver and had captured gold in 2006.
American Arielle Gold was forced to withdraw from the event after suffering a shoulder injury during a warmup run on Wednesday. The 17-year-old Gold won halfpipe gold at the 2013 World Championships, but crashed while training prior to Wednesday's event.
GISIN, MAZE SHARE DOWNHILL GOLD
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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 Wednesday at the Sochi Olympics.
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. She previously won silver in both the super-G and giant slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"I have no words. This doesn't feel real," said Maze. "The first ski race I ever won in my life was a downhill, so before I went down the track today I said to myself, 'this has to be it, I can do it', and I just went for it."
Gisin, who failed to finish the downhill event four years ago in Vancouver, claimed her first Olympic medal.
"Four years ago I cried as well but in a different way," an ecstatic Gisin said.
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.
Mancuso was in good shape at the top of the course, but had trouble maintaining speed in the latter half of the race. She finished 0.99 seconds behind Gisin and Maze.
"I am disappointed with my skiing, I made some big mistakes," Mancuso said. "I would like to have another chance, but it's over. I have to move on to my next event."
The 29-year-old Mancuso was the silver medalist in the downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Games, finishing second to fellow American Lindsay Vonn, who didn't make the trip to Sochi due to an injured right knee.
American Laurenne Ross finished in 11th place. Stacey Cook and Jacqueline Wiles of the U.S. placed 17th and 26th, respectively.
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who won her third Olympic gold Monday in the combined, came in 13th place in Wednesday's competition.
Larisa Yurkiw, the lone Canadian in the field, finished 20th.
GROOTHUIS GRABS 1,000 GOLD FOR DUTCH; DAVIS 8TH
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - After sweeping the men's 5,000-meter and 500-meter competitions, the Dutch were hoping to continue their speedskating dominance during Wednesday's 1,000-meter race at the Sochi Olympics.
They'd have to settle for two out of three.
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 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.
Mulder, skating alongside Morrison, finished just after the 28-year-old Canadian, posting a time of 1:08.74.
Korean Mo Tae-Bum, runner-up to Davis in Vancouver, finished in 12th.
RETURN TO GLORY: RUSSIANS GO 1-2 IN PAIRS FIGURE SKATING
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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 Russians also won the team figure skating competition on Sunday.
Skating to "Jesus Christ Superstar," the Russian duo of Volosozhar and Trankov whipped the home crowd into a frenzy when they ended the free skate portion of their routine with a spectacular one-arm and one-leg lift and posted a remarkable score of 152.69 for a total of 236.86.
Stolbova and Klimov were right behind them with the second-best score of the free skate at 143.47, but still finished 18.18 points behind their compatriots.
The German team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy earned the bronze for the second straight Olympics with an overall score of 215.78
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.
The other U.S. team of Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were 12th.
GERMANY'S FRENZEL GRABS GOLD IN NORDIC COMBINED NORMAL HILL
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.
With the next group of skiers unable to leave for another 21 seconds, Frenzel and Watabe created a large enough gap to turn the competition into a two-man race for gold.
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. Watabe finished 4.2 seconds later.
Frenzel won bronze in Vancouver as part of Germany's Nordic combined large hill team.
Watabe, 25, took home silver for his first Olympic medal, while Norway's Magnus Krog, who started 1:03 after Frenzel, grabbed bronze by flying around the course in 22:55.3.
Italy's Alessandro Pittin, the 2010 bronze medalist in this event, finished just outside of medal contention in fourth, despite posting the top cross country time at 22:47.5
Reigning Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis of France finished in 35th place.
Bill Demong, who won gold in the Nordic combined large hill at the Vancouver Games, recorded the best finish by an American, ending in 24th place.
Fellow American Todd Lodwick, the opening ceremony flag bearer who won silver in the team event four years ago, was in 34th after the ski jump and did not start the cross country portion. Lodwick, competing in his sixth Winter Games, sustained a serious shoulder injury in a ski-jumping crash in late December and had his arm in a sling for more than a month.
GERMAN TEAM CAPTURES GOLD IN LUGE DOUBLES
Rzhanaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.
Wendl and Arlt had won six World Cup doubles races this season and finished second in the two others.
The Lingers, who had also set a track record with their first run before being outdone by the Germans, were just over a half second behind the leaders. The Latvian team of Andris Sics and Juris Sics claimed the bronze with a total time of 1:39.790.
Tristan Walker and Justin Snith of Canada were fourth at 1:39.840.
The top U.S. team was Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman, who finished in 11th place, 2.012 seconds behind the leaders. Also, Americans Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall were 14th with a total time of 1:41.703.
Wednesday, of course, marked the four-year anniversary of the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed in a horrifying training crash just hours before the start of the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Games.
TEAM CANADA STAYS PERFECT WITH WIN OVER U.S.
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.
Canada, of course, has won the last three gold medals, while the U.S. has captured four of the last five world championships. In fact, since the first IIHF women's world championships was held in 1990, there have been 19 tournaments (world championships and Olympics combined) and only once did the top-two finishers include a country other than Canada and the U.S.
These are the two best teams in women's hockey. And it showed on Wednesday in the rematch of the gold medal game from the Vancouver Games.
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.
Canada finally hit the scoreboard with a power-play tally 2:21 into the third period. After a flurry in front of the net, Haley Wickenheiser slid a pass over to Meghan Agosta, who wristed a shot past Jessie Vetter.
Wickenheiser then gave Canada the lead less than two minutes later, as she skated in along the right boards and fired a shot towards Vetter, who was unable to make the save, as the puck trickled past her into the net.
At first it appeared as if a whistle was blown, which would have negated the goal, but after a review the goal would stand and the Canadians led 2-1.
Agosta then gave Canada even more of a cushion with a breakaway goal with 5:05 remaining to put it up 3-1.
Knight had given the Americans the lead late in the second period on a deflection from the slot from an Anne Schleper shot past the right blocker of Charline Labonte.
It was the first goal that Canada had allowed in these Games.
The U.S. found the net again with 1:05 remaining. After Canada mishandled the puck in front, Schleper corralled the loose puck and buried it past Labonte to pull the Americans within one.
Canada was then called for having too many skaters on the ice, but the U.S. failed to capitalize.
The United States fell to 2-1 with the loss.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Jenni Hiirikoski scored at 2:38 of overtime to lift Finland to a 4-3 victory over Switzerland.
The Finns blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the contest, but Hiirikoski came through in OT to deliver the win.
Linda Valimaki threaded a pass from above the right circle and found Hiirikoski cutting towards goal. Hiirikoski lunged at the puck and was able to deflect it past the glove hand of Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling.
Hiirikoski and Michelle Karvinen each had two goals for Finland, while Noora Raty made 24 saves for the win. Schelling stopped 30-of-34 shots in the loss for Switzerland, which received goals from Stefanie Marty, Romy Eggimann and Phoebe Stanz.
Finland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Hiirikoski and Karvinen. The Swiss rallied to tie the score at 2-2 on second-period goals from Eggimann and Stanz, but the Finns regained the lead on Karvinen's second goal of the game later in the period.
Marty tied it at 3-3 with just 3:35 remaining in regulation before the Swiss fell in OT.
Finland picked up its first win of the 2014 Olympics after losing its earlier tests against the United States and Canada. Switzerland remained at the bottom of the Group A standings, losing for the third time in three tries at the Sochi Games.
KARLSSON SCORES TWICE AS SWEDEN BEATS THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Erik Karlsson had two goals and Henrik Lundqvist notched 27 saves as Sweden opened Group C play in men's ice hockey with a 4-2 victory over the Czech Republic.
Patrik Berglund and Henrik Zetterberg added goals and Oliver Ekman-Larsson recorded a pair of assists for a Sweden club that raced out to a 4-0 lead. It was an impressive offensive showing for a team that won't have Henrik Sedin or Johan Franzen for the 2014 Sochi Games due to injury.
Lundqvist, meanwhile, improved to 8-2 lifetime in Olympic play. He went 2-1 with a 1.34 goals-against average for Sweden during the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Czech Republic coach Alois Hadamczik made the decision to not even dress NHL goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for the game, opting instead to go with Jakub Kovar. The move did not pay off as Kovar yielded three goals on 10 shots faced, getting lifted 51 seconds into the second period.
Alexander Salak made 14 saves in relief, while Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr had goals for the Czech Republic.
Karlsson opened the scoring during a delayed penalty call, firing a shot from the right point past Kovar with Daniel Alfredsson setting up a screen 10:07 into the contest.
Michal Barinka took a penalty for the Czech Republic less than a minute later and Berglund scored 17 seconds after the interference call ended. Berglund took a feed up the left side and settled the puck for a slap shot from the circle short side.
Less than a minute into the second period, Zetterberg threw a puck on net from the right circle that beat Kovar and chased him from the game.
Kovar entered play with a 1.91 GAA and .934 save percentage in 44 games with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in the KHL this season. Pavelec is 18-22-4 with a 2.97 GAA and .901 save percentage with the Winnipeg Jets in 2013-14.
Karlsson's power-play goal, a laser one-timer from the point, came 4:07 into the second period and Sweden seemed to settle back for a while.
That allowed the Czech to get on the board with 11:48 left in the middle frame as Zidlicky took a drop pass and ripped a slap shot from the right circle past Lundqvist's glove side and Jagr's goal with 9:59 on the clock in the frame made it a two-goal game.
Jagr's shot got past Lundqvist, who had both teammate Niklas Kronwall and Czech Tomas Plekanec in his crease at the time, but the goal stood.
Lundqvist came up with 15 saves in the third period as the Czech Republic had nearly five minutes of power-play time it could not convert into a goal.
LATE GOAL GETS SWITZERLAND PAST LATVIA
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Simon Moser scored with 7.9 seconds remaining to give Switzerland a 1-0 victory over Latvia in the opening game of group play for both teams in the men's ice hockey tournament.
Moser's pass from behind the net hit off a Latvian defenseman and got past goalie Edgars Masalskis, who ended with 38 saves on Wednesday.
Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller made 21 saves on his 32nd birthday for the Swiss, who picked up a much-needed win in Group C action.
Switzerland faces off with Sweden on Friday in a game that could have major implications as far as deciding Group C. Sweden beat the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
Latvia will take on the Czech Republic on Friday.
QUICK TO START FOR TEAM USA IN HOCKEY OPENER
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - The United States will go with Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in net when it begins play Thursday in the men's hockey tournament at the Sochi Olympics.
USA Hockey announced the decision via its Twitter feed on Wednesday morning, revealing that Quick would start between the pipes when the Americans take on Slovakia in preliminary round action on Thursday.
Team USA has three goaltenders in Sochi -- Quick, Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres and Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings -- but the starting job was assumed to be a battle between Quick and Miller.
Quick has better numbers than Miller during the 2013-14 NHL campaign, but the Sabres goalie was the hero for Team USA during its silver-medal run at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Miller was named the most valuable player of the 2010 Olympic tournament, ending the competition in Vancouver with a .946 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.35. He stopped 36-of-39 shots in the gold medal game against Canada, but couldn't prevent Sidney Crosby from tallying the game- winner in overtime of a 3-2 triumph for the Canadians.
Quick was picked as the third goaltender for the U.S. in 2010, but didn't see any action in the tournament.
Quick, 28, is 16-13-2 with a 2.18 GAA and .911 save percentage in 32 games for the Kings this season. The 33-year-old Miller is 14-22-3 with a 2.74 GAA and .923 save percentage in 39 tests for the lowly Sabres in 2013-14.
CANADA TABS PRICE AS STARTER FOR HOCKEY OPENER
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Goaltender Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens will start in net Thursday when Canada opens play in the men's hockey tournament at the Sochi Olympics.
Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock made the announcement Wednesday, saying that Price would start the opener against Norway, while Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo will get the nod for the reigning Olympic champions on Friday against Austria.
Price is 26-17-5 with a .925 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average over 48 NHL games for Montreal this season. Luongo, a member of the 2010 gold- medal winning squad, is 19-16-6 with a .917 save percentage and 2.38 GAA through 42 games with the Canucks in 2013-14.
Canada outlasted the United States in the gold-medal game at the Vancouver Games when Sidney Crosby scored the winner in overtime.
U.S. MEN PICK UP FIRST CURLING VICTORY
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - 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.
The U.S. trailed after Denmark scored three points in the first end, but notched six total points over the next four ends to grab control.
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.
Canada is 2-2, having topped Russia, 7-4, while Denmark won its second match of the day over Sweden and Great Britain topped the Swiss.
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.
China finished out strong to top the U.S., scoring two points in both the eighth and 10th ends to hand the American women a 7-4 loss.
Canada, meanwhile, used a 3-point fifth end to move in front of Great Britain and then scored a point in three of the last four ends to claim a 9-6 victory.
Canada joined Switzerland as the remaining unbeaten teams at 3-0, while China, Japan and Sweden are all 2-1.
Sweden defeated South Korea 7-4 on Wednesday, while Japan dumped Russia 8-4.