U.S. favorites Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe raced to the finish line hoping to get the best time – and the first U.S. medal for speed skating in Sochi – but it was China’s Zhang Hong who took home the gold. (Better luck next time, America).
Hong was off to a strong start when the gun was fired, gaining momentum every time she dug her skates into the ice at Adler Arena. Although there was doubt that she would hang onto her extraordinary speed – especially after some unfortunate spills from skaters who gained speed too fast, too soon – she glided around the rink and right into the top spot on the medal stand, earning her the gold over Richardson, Bowe and the rest of the competition.
Bowe, the current world record holder for the 1000m, gave it her all as she sped fiercely, but failed to live up to her own record. Richardson glided on the ice, making it look effortless, and landed herself in third place for a hot second.
Right after Richardson rapidly made her way through the two-and-a-half laps, Margot Boer of the Netherlands and Olga Fatkulina of Russia knocked Richardson out of the running for the medals, and temporarily claimed second and third – but only until the Netherlands’ Ireen Wust skated her way onto the podium, snatching the second place spot and pushing her teammate Boer into third.
Richardson and Bowe ultimately came out in seventh and eighth place, respectively.
America may not have fared so well in women’s speed skating, but the men’s slopestyle skiing event proved a monumental victory for Team USA. Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper swept the podium, nabbing the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively, and leading the red, white and blue to a Miracle-esque win.
What was your favorite event from Thursday’s Winter Games? Did you enjoy the addition of the luge team relay? What event made your evening? Sound off in the comments!