Winter Olympics 2014: Slovenians rule early Tuesday action in hockey, skiing

Bruce Bennett

The tiny nation of Slovenia ruled the early half of the day in Sochi. Here's everything you missed at the 2014 Winter Olympics while you were sleeping.

SB Nation 2014 Winter Olympic Coverage

Slovenia: our hockey Cinderella story

We seem to get one strong Cinderella story in men's hockey every Olympics, and this year's story belongs to Slovenia. The tiny European nation is home to just seven hockey rinks, and they have just 886 registered players according to the IIHF. (For comparison, the state of Delaware has about 900 registered players.)

Despite that, the Slovenian Olympic team is now a quarterfinalist, easing past Austria 4-0 on Tuesday. We had the Slovenians ranked last heading into this tournament, but they're impressed with a strong, aggressive, physical game that's overwhelmed weaker opponents and frustrated stronger ones.

Slovenia will play top-ranked Sweden in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 3 a.m. ET.

No fog this time

After fog pushed the men's snowboard cross event back a day, the competitors finally hit the course on Tuesday afternoon in Sochi. France's Pierre Vautlier, who has a decorated career away from the Olympics but never seemed to be able to pull it all together on the big stage of the Games, won his first career Olympic medal. American Alex Deibold won bronze. Russian Nikolay Olyunin took silver.

Tina Maze wins another gold

Slovenia's success isn't solely kept to the hockey rink. Skier Tina Maze won gold in the women's downhill last week, and doubled up on Tuesday with gold in the giant slalom. Her combined two-run time of 2:36.87 was .07 better than Austria's Anna Fenninger, who finished with the silver medal. USA's Mikaela Shifferin finished fifth, half a second off the pace.

Chinese penalty benefits Canada, Italy

The Koreans won the women's 3000m team relay short track event in speed skating, thanks largely to a dazzling performance in the final two laps where they overtook the Chinese.

China appeared set to win Olympic silver in the event with Canada finishing third and Italy far out of medal contention after a mid-race fall, but a penalty on the Chinese turned the results on their head. Canada was bumped up to silver as a result, and the Italians were shocked to take home a medal.

The pants are dead

Norway lost a tie-breaker to Great Britain in men's curling. They are out of the Olympics. See you in 2018, pants.

More on the Winter Olympics:

SB Nation's Winter Olympics medal tracker | Meet Team USA

Americans make history in figure skating | Canadians see a fix

Russians still mad, take hockey protest to US Embassy | #Lookit

Remembering the 1980 Miracle on Ice | Longform: Team USA's disaster in 1984

Hockey: Men’s schedule | All 12 men’s rosters | USA roster analysis

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