Freedom died a cold, icy death in Sochi on Saturday. The American men's hockey team failed to medal, falling to Finland 5-0. The Finns opened up scoring early in the second period with two goals in 11 seconds, as Teemu Selanne and Jussi Jokinen put shots past Jonathan Quick, and the already listless Americans phoned it in from there.
That makes a total of one medal — a silver, at that — for an American hockey program that boasted two strong gold medal contenders going into the medal rounds. At the very least, a 1-3 combined record from the semifinals on was disappointing. What even happened to America, you guys? America. Damn.
Continuing the American woes, ski slalom hero Ted Ligety did not finish the second run and was eliminated from competition. Ligety was sixth after the first run, and on a blistering pace until he wiped out, dooming his hopes.
Speaking of the slalom, Mario Matt of Austria rode a blistering first run to hang on for the gold medal; fellow countryman Marcel Hirscher — the World Cup leader in the slalom coming into the race — managed a silver medal, and Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen took bronze.
At the very least for America, there's still the four-man bobsled. Saturday saw the first two of four runs there, and the United States is still in serious contention for a medal. The Americans are in fourth place, but only 0.17 seconds back from first-place Russia and one hundredth of a second out of third place. It's not an enviable position to be in, but with all the other setbacks on Saturday, it'll have to do for good news.
One of the biggest indignities suffered by the American Olympic team was another gold medal won by a Russian snowboarder, Vic Wild. Well, an official Russian; Wild is an American native who was competing with the USA up until 2011, when in frustration with the poor state of American alpine snowboarding he married his Russian snowboarder girlfriend and moved to Moscow. With the backing of the Russian Ministry of Sport, Wild has blossomed and now he is a two-time gold medalist.
The guns 'n skiin' wrapped up with the men's 4 x 7.5 km biathlon, and Russia scored the gold with a 3.5-second win over Germany. It's Russia's 11th gold medal — tied with Norway for most — and now the Russians are two medals up on the USA with precious few opportunities for the Americans to make the deficit up. Your updated medal count is here. It ain't good.
In non-American news, the Netherlands capped off a brilliant Olympiad of speed skating by capturing gold medals in both the men's and women's team pursuits. Both teams set Olympic records in their gold medal runs, and with the wins the Netherlands finishes with 23 of 36 total (32 possible) medals in speed skating. So yeah, that's good.
Speaking of dominance, Norway put together another medal sweep, this one in the women's 30km cross-country mass start. Marit Bjoergen was the winner — her third gold of the Sochi Olympics — and fellow Norwegians Therese Johaug and Kristin Stoermer Steira came in second and third.
One more day of the Olympics. That's it. What a ride it's been.