(Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)
SOCHI, Russia - At least Russian fans had a bit of good news after the team's crushing loss to the Americans in men's ice hockey. They could go to bed chanting, "We're No. 1!"
For most of Saturday it seemed like the Americans' thrilling shootout win in hockey would be the only U.S. highlight of the day. But then skeleton slider Matt Antoine won a bronze medal and kept the streak alive. The Americans have won at least one medal every day of these Games.
The Sochi Games have now passed the halfway mark with 51 of 98 events completed. It's too early to say how the U.S. will fare but after nine days of competition, the U.S. team is below the pace set at the 2010 Vancouver Games, when the Americans finished first with 37 medals. Heading into Day 10, the USA was tied with the Netherlands with 14 medals each, one behind Russia.
Russia picked up two more gold medals in men's short track speedskating and men's skeleton and one silver to take over the lead. All three countries each have four gold medals.
Four years ago in Vancouver, the Americans had 23 medals, including six golds, at this point of the Games, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon.
With just one medal in Alpine skiing and no medals in long or short track speedskating, the Americans may struggle to come close to Vancouver.
Julia Mancuso is the only alpine medalist so far in Sochi. "It just takes everything coming together," she said after finishing 8th in the super-G Saturday. "You can only believe so much and then you actually have to do it on the day. Every time I cross the finish line it makes me appreciate that I've been able to win medals. It feels so good to be on the podium. But everything has to come together. It has to be a magical day."
There are five alpine races left. Sunday might be Bode Miller's last chance at a medal, though he could contend in giant slalom as well. Ted Ligety will be the favorite in the giant slalom. And teen sensation Mikaela Shiffrin will be favored in the slalom and could also medal in giant slalom next week.
Improvement for the speedskaters is less hopeful. "I think that, to be quite honest, we're all a bit stunned," said U.S. Speedskating executive director Ted Morris. "We are doing everything in our power to turn that around."
Including going back to the old suit the long track skaters used during the World Cup season. Still, that move didn't produce better results. Shani Davis finished 11th in the 1,500 meters. Five medal chances remain. On Sunday, the women take center stage for their 1,500 race. The men don't compete again until Feb. 18 in the 10,000.
Contributing: David Leon Moore