As Closing Ceremony Nears, We Tally Up The Results Of Our Vermont Olympians
With only handful of events remaining in the final weekend of the 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the United States has delivered a steady, if mildly disappointing performance.
After leading all countries with 37 medals in 2010 in Vancouver and still managing 28 against the doped-up Russians in 2014 in Sochi, the USA is sitting tied for fourth in Pyeongchang with 14 overall medals, six gold. Norway is the front-runner with 33 medals and almost as many golds (13) as the United States has combined.
The USA hoped to have breakout performances in two disciplines — cross-country and biathlon, both of which featured a number of Vermont-area Olympians.
That breakthrough finally came in cross-country when Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall teamed to win the gold medal in the women’s team sprint in the second week of competition.
The first U.S. medal since Bill Koch won silver in Innsbruck in 1976.
- Diggins has finished fifth in three races and sixth in another.
- Sophie Caldwell has a fifth and eighth.
- Simi Hamilton and Erik Bjornsen finished sixth in the men’s team sprint.
Four-time biathlon Olympian Tim Burke was 17th in the men’s pursuit and teamed with Susan Dunklee to end 15th in the mixed relay. But Dunklee failed to qualify for the women’s mass start, an event in which she won the silver medal in last year’s World Championships.
Emily Dreissigacker, one of 12 first-time Olympians, was an admirable 47th and 51st in her initial races.
It has been a rough swan song for four-time biathlete Lowell Bailey, who became the USA’s first gold medalist in biathlon in last year’s World Championships. He could not crack the top 30 in three individual events.
Freestyle Skiing & Snowboard
In freestyle slopeside, Devin Logan was unable to duplicate her silver-medal performance from 2014, finishing 10th.
But she did make Olympic history, as she also qualified in the freestyle halfpipe, becoming the first athlete to compete in both events in the same Games, which demanded a grueling training regimen.
The Vermont snowboarders came so close to the podium:
The iconic Kelly Clark, a three-time halfpipe medalist, finished fourth by fewer than three points in her fifth and most likely final Olympics.
Lindsey Jacobellis, silver medalist in snowboardcross in 2006 in Torino, ended fourth in the finals, a heartbreaking three-hundredths of a second away from a bronze medal.
Mikaela Shiffrin now has two gold medals in two separate Olympics before the age of 23.
Her first-place performance in giant slalom to begin the women’s alpine competition paired nicely with the gold she copped in slalom in 2014.
Her fourth-place ending in these Games’ slalom event was more a case of nerves than talent and was more surprising than it was disheartening.
The skiing legacy of the Cochran family continued with Ryan Cochran-Siegle’s solid performance, 46 years after his mother, Barbara, won slalom gold in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan. After failing to finish the downhill portion of the men’s combined, Cochran-Siegle placed 23rd in the downhill and 14th in Super-G.
Cochran-Siegle saved his best for the giant slalom. Sitting in the 21st position after the first run, he turned in the third-fastest second run to vault into a tie for 11th.
In hockey, Montpelier native and University of Vermont standout Amanda Pelkey was an integral part of the USA women’s team that once again squared off against Canada for the gold medal.
She was a spark plug forward on the fourth line and tallied two assists en route to the championship.
On the men’s side, defenseman Ryan Gunderson was a central piece of the young and green men’s team that fought off a slow start to advance out of qualifying to the quarterfinals.
But the far and away best feel-good story over the first half of the games was written by luger Chris Mazdzer.
The three-time Olympian from Saranac Lake, New York, was the surprise silver medalist in men’s singles, becoming the first USA athlete to medal in this event and the first non-European to reach the Olympic podium in luge.
Between Now And The Closing Ceremony
The majority of events involving area athletes are history but a handful of opportunities for Olympic memories.
The men’s and women’s relays offer a shot at redemption for the biathletes, as do the men’s and women’s team sprints in cross country. The two long-distance Nordic classical races are also still to run.
In alpine, Shiffrin can add to her medal total in the women’s combined while Nolan Kasper gets his first opportunity to compete in the men’s slalom.
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