It had been a frustrating day for the American Olympic contingent. The fog from Shaun White’s disappointing fourth place finish in the men’s halfpipe finals on Tuesday seemed to carry over to Wednesday.

First, Julia Mancuso finished eighth in the actual downhill event after eviscerating the same downhill course in the super combined on Monday. Then, the women’s hockey team lost again in their bitter rivalry with Canada. Finally, gold medal certainty Shani Davis looked incredible at the start of the men’s 1,500m speed skating event, but quickly proved that looks can be deceiving. He was so far behind the pace set by the Netherlands’ Stefan Groothuis by the second split that a comeback was rendered impossible.

It was enough to get even the most positive U.S. supporter down in the dumps. Thankfully, as has been the case throughout these Games, the women’s snowboarding team was there to lift the nation out of a gutter.

With Kelly Clark, Kaitlyn Farrington and Hannah Teter all making the women’s halfpipe final, a chance at redemption loomed large. It was a bit surprising to see the youngest of the three women make the most of that opportunity, but Farrington’s gold is made especially sweet by the fact that both Clark and Teter already won gold medals at halfpipe, in 2002 and 2006 respectively.

In fact, with Australia’s Torah Bright also in the finals, Farrington had to best the last three Olympic champions to take home gold. The 24-year-old didn’t disappoint, bettering her first run with a flawless second that no other rider could duplicate.

It should be noted that snowboarding is responsible for all three of the gold medals won by the United States in Sochi, and that the one snowboarding event that America hasn’t won was the one everyone expected them to take easily.

The Olympics, everybody.

Medal Standings After Day 5

Rank Country G S B T
1 Norway 4 3 5 12
2 Canada 4 4 2 10
3 Netherlands 4 2 4 10
4 United States 3 1 5 9
5 Russian Federation 2 4 3 9
6 Germany 6 1 1 8
7 Austria 1 4 0 5
8 Switzerland 3 0 1 4
9 Slovenia 1 1 2 4
10 Sweden 0 3 1 4

Canada Continues To Win Medals, Hearts And Minds

Morrison of Canada skates past the Olympic rings during speedskating team practice at the Adler Arena in preparation for the 2014  Winter Olympics in Sochi

It’s shaping up to possibly be the best Olympics ever for Canada. That’s not just in terms of medals, but also reputation. A day after a Canadian coach helped out an injured Russian cross-country skier with a replacement ski, speed skater Denny Morrison won a silver medal in the 1,000m. Morrison was only competing in the event because his Canadian teammate Gilmore Junio gave up his spot in the race, after recognizing that Morrison was turning out better times in training. It was a selfless act, and one for which his team was rewarded.

With so much about these Games in Sochi provoking cynical reactions, Canada has single-handedly provided the majority of the positive talking points for the Winter Olympics.

Russia’s Alcohol Ban Means No Brews For Games

A Russian federal law passed last year prohibits the sale of alcohol inside sports stadiums and arenas. This would’ve been good to know before the country was awarded the Winter Games.

The quote of the day comes from a surprised Canadian tourist: “Who wants to watch curling sober? No one. I’ll tell you that right now.”

A Russian Revolution 

Russia is back. Big time. After not even reaching the podium in pairs figure skating at the Vancouver Olympics, Russian couples finished one-two on Wednesday, led by Tatyana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov’s gold medal performance.

Maze, Gisin Both Win Gold In Women’s Downhill

Incredibly, there are two gold medalists for the first time in Olympic alpine skiing history. Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin both finished with a time of 1:41.57.

Rivalry Renewed

For years, women’s hockey has amounted to Canada, the United States and everyone else. Recently, Finland has made important strides to distance themselves from the rest of the competition, but the marquee matchup remains Canada vs. USA.

With today’s win over their bitter rivals from the United States, Canada take first place in their Group, and avoid having to face those upstart Fins. They won 3-2 thanks to a dominant final frame in which they scored all their goals.

The Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Begins

Sweden opened the tournament by holding on to beat the the Czech Republic 4-2, thanks in large part to two goals from Erik Karlsson. Meanwhile, a last minute goal from Simon Moser put Switzerland ahead of Latvia 1-0, in a very underwhelming undercard.

Five More Things:

  1. Canada’s men’s curling team got off to a rocky start, but they steadied themselves today with a win over Russia to put their record to 2-2.
  2. Did you know the arena where Olympic hockey games are playedexhibits the live score of the game on its outside walls?
  3. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won gold in the men’s double luge competition. Don’t even bother asking how this event became a sport.
  4. Germany’s Eric Frenzel was super stoked to win a gold medal in his Nordic combined event.
  5. Austria has filed a complaint after after Elisabeth Goergl was visited by drug testers at 10:55 p.m. local time on Tuesday – which was the evening before she was set to ski in the downhill race the next morning. The complaint sounds awfully similar to claims made by the Canadian figure skating team. Leave our athletes alone.

Finally, Your Moment Of Olympic Dance Off