Another day, another heartbreaking U.S. loss to Canada in hockey.
This time it was the men who let their chances at gold slip away.
That was the biggest story line out of Sochi on Friday, day 14 of the Winter Olympics.
But the day wasn't totally depressing, thanks to an 18-year-old skier who won slalom gold. Her commanding performance helped keep the Americans on top of the medal board.
D'oh! Canada wins again
One of the Olympics’ most anticipated showdowns, between the U.S. and Canadian men’s hockey teams, ended Friday with another American disappointment.
A day after the U.S. women’s team lost to Canada in the gold-medal final, the men fell 1-0 in the semifinals, losing their shot at gold.
The game was seen as a rematch of the 2010 gold medal final in Vancouver, in which the Canadian men beat the Americans in overtime.
Friday’s loss means that the U.S. men will end another Winter Games without a gold medal, which they haven’t won since 1980, the year of the “Miracle on Ice.”
A bronze is still within reach, though. The U.S. will play Finland for that medal on Saturday.
Canada, meanwhile, will take on Sweden in the gold medal match on Sunday.
Gold for the kid
The brightest moment for the U.S. on Friday came courtesy of a teenaged skier.
Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, became the youngest woman ever to win slalom gold, beating defending champion Mari Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by half a second.
The victory brought the U.S. its second gold medal in Alpine skiing, after Ted Ligety won the giant slalom earlier in the week.
The U.S. has won five total Alpine medals in Sochi, down from its seven in Vancouver four years ago but still a bright spot given disappointing performances from some of America’s highly touted stars.
Shiffrin came within inches of losing the race. In her second of two runs, she briefly lost control on a turn, lifting a leg up to catch her balance. She recovered and still finished faster than her closest rivals.
With Shiffrin representing the future of American ski racing, its aging champion ended his Olympic career.
Bode Miller decided to sit out Saturday’s men’s slalom competition and returned home to nurse a bum knee. He said he wants to finish out the current World Cup season.
But Sochi seemed a fitting conclusion.
Brash and unpredictable, Miller, 36, sat out the 2013 season with a knee injury but roared back this year. He showed flashes of brilliance in his downhill training runs in Sochi but failed to make the podium.
He held it together in the super-G, winning bronze, his sixth career medal, a finish that brought him to tears and made him America’s most decorated Olympic skier.
Now his fans have to wait to see if he’s got anything left to give.
The speedskating debacle is complete
It’s time for American speedskaters to do some serious soul-searching.
They were by far the U.S. team’s biggest disappointment in Sochi, getting shut out of the podium in long-track events for the first time 30 years.
Two final defeats came Friday in the men’s and women’s team pursuit events.
“Worst Olympics ever,” said American star Shani Davis, according to the Associated Press.
The lone consolation happened Friday on the short track, where the U.S. men’s 5000m relay team won a silver medal.
Speedskating had traditionally been one of the U.S.’s strongest sports at the Winter Games. But no longer.
They have been totally eclipsed by the Dutch, who have won a whopping 22 long-track speedskating medals in Sochi.
U.S. leads medal count
Shiffrin's gold and the short-track silver raised America's total medal count to 27, tops in Sochi.
The U.S. has nine golds, which leaves it in a three-way tie with Russia and Canada behind Norway's 10.
That slim overall lead could still evaporate in the final weekend, with the culmination of 10 more medal events.