Team USA didn't exactly net a treasure chest of medals on Day 3 at the Sochi Games, but it did provide some hope, especially on the ice. Erin Hamlin set herself up for a big Tuesday in women's luge, and the U.S. women's hockey team was positively dominant.
Curling didn't hold court, and neither did J.R. Celski in short track, but Julia Mancuso gave everyone a reason to smile with her celebration on the slopes.
Here are highlights (and a couple lower lights) from the U.S. day in Sochi.
Biggest Winner: Julia Mancuso
Viewing the bios of these amazing athletes can be impossibly depressing. For instance, looking at the file of Julia Mancuso, the resident dowager of women's Alpine, shows that she is only 29 years old. Without pulling out the abacus, this puts her in the twilight phase of her career.
All she did was blitz to No. 1 spot in the downhill half of the women's super combined, relatively tank the slalom (13th) and end up with the bronze to medal in her third straight Olympics. Baller.
That picture of her above with the American flag just about sums it up. It may be the funniest thing you'll see all day.
Biggest Blowout: Women's hockey
It's old hat to make fun of Switzerland for being "neutral" or, for that matter, touting its claim to fame with watches and utility knives. And don't forget Swiss Miss hot cocoa. But at some point or another you have to show up and not put your country's entire athletic aplomb on the shoulders of Roger Federer. Didn't you get the memo?
Nope. The United States women's hockey team defeated the Swiss 9-0 in today's prelim. Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne each scored two goals.
Oh, and three U.S. goals in 55 seconds was, pardon the hockey pun, icing on the cake.
Biggest Cross-Discipline Blowback: U.S. vs. Switzerland
Beware of the Swiss—to secure peace is to prepare for war. And the Swiss exacted a certain kind of revenge on the ice, just not hockey-style.
Remember when curling was all the rage, people with rocks, people with brooms who appear to be lifted right out of the movie Wall-E? No sport illustrates the power of friction quite like curling. Where the Swiss got pummeled in hockey, they handed the Americans a 7-4 loss in session 1 of the round robin.
The Great American Hope: Erin Hamlin
In the less publicized world of luge, Erin Hamlin of the United States sits in third place after the first two runs. She's behind two luge behemoths in Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner, both from Germany. Germany turns out luge stars the way the United States turns out delectable breakfast cereals. Puts things in perspective, no?
Hamlin is a former World Champion (2009 gold medal) and finished sixth in last year's Worlds behind, among others, Geisenberger and Huefner.
It'll be great to see where Hamlin finishes tomorrow in the medal round and especially to see if Kate Hansen (currently in 10th place), 21, of Burbank, Calif., can hold steady and crack the top 10 in her first Olympics.
The Great American Nope: J.R. Celski
J.R. Celski, a serious contender in the men's short-track 1,500 meters, failed to medal after winning bronze in 2010. Instead, Canada's Charles Hamelin won gold yet again. Celski has other shots in other short-track events, so it's not all lost for the 23-year-old. He lost to this guy, so you really can't be too disappointed. That's when you say, "Bro, it's all yours."
Not Quite Up to Snuff: Patrick Deneen
Patrick Deneen sneaked into the moguls finals, in the sixth and final spot by a hundredth of a point, but could not improve on that place.
Deneen started first in the finals and watched as others passed him by and put him out of medal contention. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but imagine how powerless he felt as five ahead of him pushed him down to the finals basement.
Before we depart Day 3, let's throw in one more image of Mancuso because, really, who doesn't like seeing her enjoy the stage?