Sochi Olympics Figure Skating

U.S. in medal position after Day 2 of team figure skating

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Team USA started Day 2 of the inaugural Olympic team figure skating competition facing elimination. But by the end of the day, the Americans had clawed their way back into the medal picture.

Going into tomorrow’s final day (men’s/women’s free skate and free dance), they sit third in the overall standings with 34 points, looking up at leaders Russia (47 points) and Canada (41 points).

Meryl Davis and Charlie White kick-started the American comeback by topping the short program in ice dancing with a score of 75.98, beating out defending Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada to earn a full 10 points.

That pushed the U.S. to third in the standings, and that’s where they’d stay for the rest of the afternoon. Ashley Wagner finished fourth in the ladies’ short program with a score of 63.10, while the Russian crowd was brought to their feet by Julia Lipnitskaia, who finished first with a score of 72.90 ahead of Italy’s Carolina Kostner and Japan’s Mao Asada.

MORE: Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe wins women’s moguls gold

With all the short programs completed, Russia, Canada, the U.S., Japan, and Italy all moved on into the free program portion of the competition, which began with the pairs.

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who did the pairs’ short program on Thursday, got the call again for the U.S. in free skate and wound up finishing fourth with a score of 117.94 (7 points).

WATCH: Japanese skater Asada falls, but still hopeful

Russia once again showed its strength as Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the final pair to skate this afternoon, took home 10 points for the host nation after posting a score of 135.09. Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch were second (129.74, 9 points) and Italy’s Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek were third (120.82, 8 points).

TEAM FIGURE SKATING – STANDINGS
(After five events)
1. Russia – 47
2. Canada – 41
3. United States – 34
4. Italy – 31
5. Japan – 30
Eliminated after short programs
6. France – 22
7. China – 20
8. Germany – 17
9. Ukraine – 10
10. Great Britain – 8

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career