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US women’s hockey came an inch away from gold over Canada (GIF)

The US women’s hockey team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Canada in the gold medal game on Thursday. It was a bittersweet feeling for the US as they received their silver medals after blowing a 2-0 lead with just 3:26 remaining in the game.

Canada was able to cut America’s lead to one on a goal from Brianne Jenner. Marie-Philip Poulin then tied the game with 55 seconds remaining and an extra attacker on the ice for Canada. They went on to win on a power play goal in overtime.

To make matters worse for the US, there was an opportunity for an empty-net goal with roughly a minute left that rung off the post. The US literally came an inch away from a gold medal, though Canada deserved to win the game. The Canadians never gave up and played with a sense of urgency until the final whistle. They could have just as easily packed it in.

US-womens-post-Canada

GIF via @PeteBlackburn

Kate Hansen shares video of possible wolf in Sochi Olympics hallway

Sochi-Olympics-wolfThere have been a number of stories about stray dogs wandering around Sochi at the Winter Olympics. Some have been adopted by athletes while others are left to bark at skiers during their training runs. Stuff got real on Wednesday night when US luger Kate Hansen may have spotted a wolf roaming the hallways of her dormitory.

Could it have been a husky? Siberia is only 2,666 miles from Sochi, so I guess that’s possible. If you Google the differences between wolves and huskies, you’ll notice that wolves have a longer, more defined snout than huskies. The animal spotted by Hansen looked like it had a pretty long, narrow snout, which is more characteristic of a wolf.

Needless to say, you can now add “possible wolves wandering hallways” to the growing list of #SochiProblems. Thankfully, Hansen didn’t come running out of her room to show the wolf her trademark dance moves. Who knows how that would have ended.

UPDATE: The wolf was real, but the video was not. Another classic hoax from Jimmy Kimmel.

The Austrian hockey team is sorry for partying

Sorry-for-partyingThe Austrian national hockey team surprised everyone — themselves included — when they defeated Norway in the final game of group play at the Winter Olympics. The win came on the heels of an 8-4 loss against Finland and 6-0 loss to Canada, so you can understand why the team was excited. In hindsight, the Austrians probably could have taken the celebration down a notch.

According to EuroHockey.com, the Austrians went out partying after beating Norway 3-1 and did not return until 6:00 a.m. Less than two days later, they were knocked out of the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Slovenia. Austria head coach Manny Viveiros said he was stunned by his team’s behavior.

“We had a real chance to reach the quarterfinals I don’t know why this happened, especially before what is most likely the most important game for modern era Austrian ice hockey,” Viveiros said Wednesday. “It was a shock what happened after the game against Norway. I had no idea about it. I was shocked. We knew the players went there (Austria House) to eat something. But it was planned that they return to their rooms right afterwards.”

Viveiros said the names of the players who took part in the drink-a-thon will be published and “there will be consequences.” The Austrian team featured three NHL players — Michael Grabner, Michael Raffl and captain Thomas Vanek. They released a letter apologizing for their behavior, which was translated by Deadspin.

“We know that this behavior is not a professional one, yet we think this did not influence our performance against Slovenia in any way or form, the disappointing team effort was the reason for the loss,” the NHLers wrote. “We are aware of our role as role models and should have moved the celebrations to the evening after our last tournament play…

“We are at the end of the day just people who make mistakes, and we want to sincerely apologize for the negative impression that may have arisen in the public.”

Austrian Ice Hockey Federation president Dieter Kalt added that Viveiros’ decision to choose Vanek as captain to have an experience player leading the way “obviously went wrong.”

We have heard plenty of stories about the, ahem, fun activities that take place in the Olympic Village, but rarely do we hear about athletes partying so hard that it may have affected their performance. You drink the booze, you lose.

American-born snowboarder Vic Wild wins gold medal for Russia

Vic-Wild-Russia

Olympic snowboarder Vic Wild was born and raised in White Salmon, Wash. Yes, the Washington that’s located on the west coast of the United States of America. Why, then, did Wild drape the Russian flag over his shoulders after winning a gold medal in the parallel giant slalom on Wednesday?

Wild is a citizen of Russia. He moved to the country in 2011 after becoming fed up with the US Ski and Snowboard Association’s lack of commitment to parallel slalom snowboarding. Instead, the US has been more focused on freestyle and halfpipe.

“I had no money,” Wild told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. “I wasn’t going to continue banging my head against the wall. … I told everybody in the Russian snowboard federation, ‘If you guys take me, you’ll never regret it.’”

Wild became a citizen after marrying Russian Olympic snowboarder Alyona Zavarzina. Before the Olympics began, he told NBC Sports that he does not consider himself to be an American anymore.

“I don’t even think about me being American anymore,” Wild said. “I’m Russian. I might not speak Russian fluently, and I might not totally understand the culture, but I live there. I’m not some American guy who lives in America and wants to snowboard for Russia because it’s easier. If anything, I went the hard way.”

While some will undoubtedly say that Wild abandoned his home country, the US Snowboarding team was quick to congratulate him after he took home the gold.

Wild knew what he wanted out of life, created a plan, and executed it to perfection. Who can blame him for that?

Russian head coach takes jab at Alex Ovechkin after loss to Finland

Alex-Ovechkin-RussiaSpoiler alert — the Russian national hockey team broke the hearts of its home fans on Tuesday at the Winter Olympics. Finland simply out-hustled the Russians and was the better team for three periods, advancing to the semifinals where they will take on Sweden. Alex Ovechkin was very little help in the 3-1 loss.

Ovechkin may have been fatigued, but there were several moments in the third period where he looked like he was not skating hard. Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was quick to call him out by name after his team was eliminated.

”Tough to explain the loss, of course, why scored so little,” Bilyaletdinov said, according to Puck Daddy. “Players who score so many goals for their clubs, like Alex Ovechkin who scored 40 goals for his club [didn’t score]… Right now I cannot explain that.”

Ovechkin scored 1:17 into Russia’s first game of the Olympics, and that ended up being his only goal of the tournament. He is currently leading all NHL scorers with 40 goals, so you can understand why his performance was disappointing.

A lot of the blame will be placed on Ovechkin’s shoulders, but he was not the only one who failed to fulfill expectations. In fact, plenty of people are blaming Bilyaletdinov for the loss against Finland since he chose to start goalie Semyon Varlamov over Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped all seven shots he faced after Varlamov was pulled.

Ovechkin may have been expected to carry the team, but the disappointment is shared from top to bottom. Winning in front of the home fans isn’t always easy. Russia showed us that in Sochi.

Vladimir Putin can’t be happy about Russia being eliminated by Finland

Vladimir-Putin-Russian-hockey

Many considered Russia to be the favorite to take home the gold medal in men’s hockey with the Winter Olympics taking place in their home country, but Alexander Ovechkin and company were a shocking disappointment. Finland defeated Russia 3-1 in the elimination rounds and crushed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s dreams in the process.

While Russia only managed to score one goal with what was supposed to be a potent offense, head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is already taking the most heat for starting goalie Semyon Varlamov over Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky stopped all seven shots he faced after entering the game, including two spectacular saves late in the third period.

To make matters worse, Evgeni Malkin said after the game that he was the one who told Bilyaletdinov to pull Varlamov after he let in his third goal. Bobrovsky started for Russia against Norway and recorded a shutout to help his team advance to the quarterfinals. Varlamov had a shutout the game before against Slovakia, so both had been playing well.

Russia jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Tuesday before Varlamov let in a relatively soft goal:

As they often say in sports, hindsight is 20-20.

Photo via Twitter/Melanie Collins
GIF via @PeteBlackburn

US bobsledder Chuck Berkeley criticizes Lolo Jones

Lolo Jones bobsled

You know it would only be a matter of time before someone notable criticized USA Bobsled and Skeleton for choosing Lolo Jones as one of the three push athletes to represent the country at the Winter Games in Sochi. On Tuesday, it was bobsledder Chuck Berkeley who voiced his opinion.

Berkeley, who competed in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, criticized officials for choosing Jones over three other push athletes. Jones and pilot Jazmine Fenlator ended up 11th after the first half of competition Tuesday. Here’s what Berkeley said:

This trend seems to follow Jones whether she’s bobsledding or doing track and field. Remember during the Summer Games in London when her teammates were jealous of her popularity? Then last month some bobsledders who didn’t make the team complained that Jones made it because of her popularity.

I guess the only way Lolo will get rid of her critics is by medaling. She has her work cut out for her to achieve that.

Plus, I counted at least three times where their sled hit the rails. Last I checked, Lolo wasn’t steering the rig.