5 favorite moments from Wednesday at the Sochi Olympics


— Does anyone know how to say “Did that really just happen?” in Russian? Who can predict how the women’s figure skating will turn out? Who just won his record-setting 13th medal?

It’s in the nyet

What a strange day if you are a Russian Olympics fan. The hockey team got knocked out; amazing figure skater Julia Lipnitskaya tumbled during her short program; and you saw a home-nation gold medal from a foreign-grown snowboarder.

The country is in shock over the hockey team’s 3-1 loss to Finland. Remember the Russians (or Soviets) used to own the gold medal, but they haven’t won one in 12 years.

More than one hour after the loss, a Sochi bear mascot sat in the empty hockey arena stands, head in paw.

The media ganged up on Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov at the news conference.

Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, said two of the best early questions were “How guilty are you feeling?” and “Is it a catastrophe?”

“I take full responsibility for our team’s performance,” the coach said, according to a translator.

It’s hard to say the Games have been ruined for a country that has won a second-best 22 medals, buuuuuuuuuut …

At least in the case of Lipnitskaya, she didn’t fall out of medal contention. She has the ability to lift the nation’s spirits if she can perform magnificently in Thursday’s free program and get a bronze or silver. Gold seems out of reach, but it is up to the judges.

And there’s probably a little bit of pride in the husband-and-wife combination of Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina. They competed 15 minutes apart in the parallel giant slalom with Wild, who became a Russian citizen two years ago, winning gold. His wife won bronze in the women’s event.

“It was incredible to win with Alena. We are together all the time. If one of us has success and the other doesn’t it’s great but it’s not that great, but for both of us to have success on the same day is a dream come true. Maybe I will wake up soon,” he said.

Within reach

South Korea’s Yuna Kim has a lot to think about. This is her last Olympics. She has skated only a few times in competition since winning a gold medal in Vancouver, leading to constant questions about her trying to repeat as champion. She’s also trying to inspire young figure skaters in the country that will host the next Winter Olympics.

And now she’s less than a point ahead of two other skaters after the short program in women’s figure skating.

Adelina Sotnikova of Russia and Carolina Kostner of Italy are second and third, respectively.

Kim, who has only skated in four international events since winning in 2010, is retiring after these Games. She will skate last on Thursday. It’s not a position she likes.

“But I have had this experience before. It won’t be a big problem,” she said.

U.S. skaters Gracie Gold, who is six points behind and fourth, and Ashley Wagner have outside chances at medals.

“Tonight was definitely nerve-racking, I’ll be honest about that. But I’m set up well for the long program,” said Wagner, who is in sixth and trails by nine points.

Hot diggity, Ligety!

They call Ted Ligety “Mr. GS.”

It should be amended to “Mr. Golden GS.”

The overwhelming favorite in the men’s giant slalom gave the opposition no chance at winning Wednesday with a sizzling first run and a steady, self-assured second run that had the crowd congratulating him before he even reached the finish.

“This is really awesome. This is the event I wanted the most. This is the event I have been putting so much pressure on myself to win, so to pull through is an awesome feeling,” he said.

Ligety became the first American man to win the event and joined Andrea Mead Lawrence as the only two U.S. skiers with two golds in alpine skiing.

The 29-year-old led by almost a full second after the first run, but wasn’t totally comfortable with such a huge margin.

“If you blow out taking too much risk, you look stupid. If you go too easy and blow your lead, you look even more stupid.” he said.

We would say you looked stupendous instead. Hope you ski as well in the slalom.

Hope you mess up — but not much

Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers are friends. Meyers even invited her Canadian rival to her wedding in April.

But as Humphries stood with her teammate Heather Moyse at the bottom of the bobsled track Wednesday, waiting for Meyers to make her final run, she did hope for her pal to have a bobble here or hit there.

“I never wish bad on people, but I was thinking, ‘Just make a few mistakes, please,’ ” she told reporters.

And in a sport where it takes four runs to crown an Olympic champion, it was a tenth of a second that came between the winning Humphries and Meyers. It was a hit at the top that Meyers blamed for the loss.

“I know I’m going to get crap, and people will say it’s a disappointment, but I’m not disappointed,” said Meyers, who along with teammate Lauryn Williams led after three runs. “I couldn’t be prouder. I’m glad for silver, I didn’t deserve the gold medal today.”

Williams became the fifth Olympian to medal in the Summer and Winter Games.

“This has been the most exciting experience of my life,” she said of her recent immersion into the sport. “I am so happy to have fallen into bobsled. Who would have thought six months ago I would be bobsledding, let alone on the podium at the Olympics?”

Eight golds, four silvers, one bronze

He won his first medal in 1998 in the biathlon sprint. Four Olympics later he is still adding to what is now a record-setting personal medal table.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won his 13th Olympic medal Wednesday, putting him alone atop the all-time individual medal table for the Winter games. His eight gold medals are also a record.

He raced the third leg in the new mixed relay competition and put Norway far ahead, where it stayed, beating the Czech Republic by 32 seconds.

“I’m really grateful for this victory,” he said, in typical understated fashion. “I’m happy for my team.”

Is there one more podium in the bag? The men’s relay is Saturday.


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