Saturday’s hockey showdown between the U.S. and Russia was one of the most anticipated events of the Winter Olympics, and it more than delivered.
It was certainly the biggest highlight of day 8 in Sochi.
There were other shining moments as well, including a bronze for an American skeleton athlete.
But while Saturday was big for the U.S., it was even better for the host Russians, who have moved ahead in the medal race.
Here are some of the day’s big developments.
America’s shootout thriller
Every time the U.S. hockey team plays the Russians, comparisons are made to the Americans’ “Miracle on Ice” upset of the Soviet Union in Lake Placid 34 years ago.
This time was no different. While the stakes weren’t as high — Saturday’s game was part of the preliminary round, not the medal round — the game was fraught with tension, both for the Russians, who see hockey as a pillar of Olympic success, and the Americans, who are out to prove themselves in a highly competitive field.
Saturday’s game was taut, physical and fast, and ended regulation in a 2-2 tie. No one scored in overtime. That forced the rivals into a shootout that lasted eight rounds, ending with a goal by U.S. forward T.J. Oshie.
The 3-2 win puts America in position for a higher seeding in the medal round, but won’t hurt the Russians too much. They’ll likely earn a high seed as well. The two teams could end up meeting again.
Glory and defeat for skeleton friends
Matt Antoine and John Daly are American skeleton athletes, old friends and Sochi roommates — and, on Saturday, rivals for a medal.
After the third heat on Saturday, they were separated by 0.04 seconds.
Then they went separate ways.
Antoine won bronze with a final run of 56.73 seconds and a four-run total of 3 minutes, 47.26 seconds, behind Alexander Tretiakov of Russia (3:44.29) and Latvia’s Martins Dukurs (3:45.10). It was the first U.S. medal in the sport since 2002.
Daly, meanwhile, lost his composure. Just after the start of his final run, he lost control of his sled. He finished the run, but his chance at the podium was long gone.
Daly hung his head in his hands.
Old suits, same results
Much of Friday was spent discussing whether the Americans’ sudden failure to win medals in speedskating had something to do with their newly designed suits.
On Saturday, the Americans went back to their previous suits. But they still failed to reach the podium.
The best American performance in the men’s 1,500m was Brian Hansen’s 7th-place finish. American star Shani Davis continued to disappoint, finishing 11th.
“You start questioning if you’ve still got what it takes,” Shani Davis said, according to NBC Olympics.
U.S. coach Matthew Kooreman perhaps summed it up best: “There’s no excuses anymore.”
America's curling team didn't head into the Sochi Games with high expectations, so their poor performance doesn't come as much of a surprise.
The American women (1-6) have been mathematically eliminated from medal contention.
They came in last in Vancouver four years ago.
The men aren't doing much better.
They're in sixth place at 2-4.
Russia’s big day
Russia, the host of the Winter Olympics, is enjoying a mid-Games surge in the medal standings.
With Tretiakov’s gold in skeleton, and another gold and a silver in the men’s 1,000m short track speed skating, Russia won the most medals on Saturday.
That gives them 15 medals overall, enough to top the standings.
The Netherlands is in second with 14 medals, including four golds and four silvers.
The U.S. is third with 14 medals, including four golds and three silvers.