The (American) empire strikes back

By now you’ve heard the storyline: The U.S. performance at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang was looking a little, well, lackluster. Blame it on stars aging out of their sports (downhill bronze medalist Lindsey Vonn, skier Ted Ligety), new stars coping with huge expectations (February WAG cover subject Mikaela Shiffrin, figure skater Nathan Chen), poor strategies in the bobsled and cross-country skiing and some tough luck.

But some said, Hold on. Wait for the end of this week. Like a dark horse, the U.S. has come roaring back to a respectable fourth in the medal count with 21 to date. We won’t eclipse the brilliant Norwegians (35 medals), who still have a chance to break our record of 37 at Vancouver. But we’ve certainly woken up.

And we can credit the women for the wakeup call. Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the U.S.’ first gold ever in cross-country skiing, taking the women’s team sprint freestyle event. Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs took silver in the two-woman bobsled. Shiffrin overcame a disappointing fourth in the slalom to take the silver in the super combined. Speed skaters Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe earned a bronze in the team pursuit. And the U.S. women’s hockey team beat Canada for the gold. It’s a fierce rivalry that Canada has dominated.

But hey, “Do you believe in miracles?,” to quote Al Michaels’ call of another American hockey victory (U.S. men over the Soviets in the semifinal of their gold-medal run, Lake Placid, 1980).

Yes, Al, we do.

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