Snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg started Team USA in the right direction, winning the first gold medal at Sochi.
By Josh Barr
Sochi 2014 was full of excitement for Team USA, winning nine gold medals, seven silver medals and 12 bronze medals. Team USA finished second in the medal count to host Russia.
There were thrills in the snow and on the ice, kicking off with the first gold medal of the Games and Sage Kotsenburg’s surprising victory in slopestyle. Here is a look at some of the highlights.
Sage Kotsenburg went all out, unveiling a new trick to win gold.
Sage Kotsenburg went on social media to share his excitement just for making the finals of the first-ever men’s slopestyle. Then he called his brother back home in Utah to discuss strategy and whether to attempt the 1620 Japan Air – 4 ½ revolutions with his Holy Crail grab.
“He was like, ‘Send it, what do you got to lose?’” Kotsenburg said. “I ended up landing it and winning it.”
With his first win in a major competition, Kotsenburg became the first U.S. athlete to win the first event of an Olympic Games since Andrea Mead Lawrence won the women’s giant slalom at Oslo 1952.
Jamie Anderson looked calm and collected, winning the first-ever Olympic women’s slopestyle.
In the final moments before she pushed off for what would be the decisive gold-medal run in the inaugural women’s slopestyle, Jamie Anderson was unusually nervous. But as Anderson sped down the mountain, you never would have known.
On a day when many of her top competitors struggled with the conditions and faltered, Anderson shined. Her flawless score of 95.25 easily outdistanced the field.
“The key is not to take things too seriously, to strike a balance between competition and the spirit of snowboarding,” Anderson said. “At the top I felt nauseous and I felt sick. I thought, ‘Let’s go through what I’m more consistent with,’ and it paid off.”
Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been skating partners since elementary school.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White had skated together for 17 years, winning the silver medal in ice dance at Vancouver 2010. But as they prepared to take the ice at Sochi, the pressure was intense. Their chief competitors – 2010 gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada – had turned in a season-best score. Davis and White needed to be perfect to win gold.
“It’s probably the most nervous you’ll be in a lifetime,’ White said.
Any nerves, though, did not show, as Davis and White performed flawlessly to become Team USA’s first gold medalists in ice dancing.
Lauryn Williams gave USA-1 the push it needed and became the first American woman to medal in both the summer and winter Olympic Games.
A three-time Olympian sprinter with both gold and silver medals, Lauryn Williams cemented her place in the record book at Sochi 2014.
Despite having never been in a bobsled until the six months leading up to the Games, Williams not only earned a place in USA-1, she and pilot Elana Meyers won the silver medal in the two-woman bobsled event, narrowly missing the gold medal. Williams became just the second American ever – joining boxer turned bobsledder Eddie Eagan – to win a medal at both the summer and winter Olympic Games.
“I didn’t come here to make history; I came here to help Team USA,” Williams said. “It’s really cool to be here tonight to have pushed as hard as I could for (Elana) and to be on the podium.”
With Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans taking bronze, it was the first time ever that Team USA won two medals in an Olympic bobsled competition.
Joss Christensen led just the third-ever Team USA Winter Games podium sweep.
A discretionary pick as the fourth and final selection to the Team USA Men’s Slopestyle Skiing Team, Joss Christensen delivered one of the most emotional victories at Sochi. Christensen nailed a switch triple corked 1440 and scored a 95.80 on his first run to win the gold medal.
Christensen was joined on the podium by silver medalist Gus Kenworthy and bronze medalist Nick Goepper as Team USA completed just its third-ever Winter Games medal sweep.
“It was the perfect conditions for us to have a good slopestyle contest,” Christensen said. “I’m so happy to be on top and with my two really good friends. Go America!”
Christensen dedicated the victory to his late father, J.D. Christensen, who passed away the previous August.
“I wish he was here,” said Christensen, who brought his father’s picture with him to Sochi. “But I hope he’s looking down and smiling. I hope I made him proud. I did it for him.”
Bode Miller is the second-most decorated Alpine skier all-time, with six Olympic medals.
Bode Miller’s fifth and final Olympics included one last thrilling moment as he became the oldest Alpine skier ever to win an Olympic medal, claiming bronze in a tie with Canadian Jan Hudec in the men’s super-G. It was Miller’s sixth Olympic medal, second-most ever by a male Alpine skier and capping a brilliant career that included one gold medal, three silvers and one other bronze.
“I was really happy to be on the right side of the hundredths,” Miller said. “Some days, medals don’t matter. Today, it does matter.”
The only Alpine skier with more Olympic medals is Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt, with eight.
Erin Hamlin hoped her bronze medal in women’s singles inspires the next generation of Team USA lugers.
Erin Hamlin was the women’s singles luge world champion in 2009 but disappointingly failed to medal at Vancouver 2010. She had not been on a podium in two years when she arrived at Sochi.
Relaxed and focused on just making her best runs, Hamlin came through with a spectacular result, winning the bronze medal in women’s singles, becoming the first American female luger to win a medal and the first American luger to win a singles medal.
“When I won worlds, I was the first American woman to ever win worlds,” Hamlin said. “So to be able to do this as well, I feel like I’m really hopefully paving the way for future generations of female lugers in the U.S.”