U.S. unlikely to win medal count after medal-less Day 15

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On the next-to-last day of the Sochi Olympics, the U.S. finally had its streak of earning at least one medal on each day of medal events snapped.

For those hoping to see the Americans top the medal count, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Three medal events are on tap for tomorrow’s final day of competition: Four-man bobsled, the men’s mass start in cross-country skiing, and the men’s hockey gold medal game.

As we saw today, the U.S. men’s hockey squad is heading back home with nothing after losing their bronze medal match with Finland. And the skiing event doesn’t have an American among the true contenders.

That leaves only Steven Holcomb and his team of bobsledders as the last legit chance for the U.S. to get one more piece of hardware. They’re currently .01 of a second off the bronze medal position after today’s first two runs.

But even if Holcomb and Co. get a 28th medal for the U.S., it won’t be enough to overtake Russia, which has 29 medals so far and could land two more tomorrow in bobsled (they’re currently first in the four-man) and in cross-country.

Third in the overall medal count is Norway, which has 26 medals but is tied with the Russians for the most golds with 11. Competitors from both nations are expected to figure heavily into the outcome of tomorrow’s mass start.

Canada is fourth overall with 24 medals, but could take third in the golds outright if their men’s hockey team can defeat Sweden tomorrow morning.

But one figures Canucks from Vancouver to the Maritimes won’t really care all that much about where their country winds up in the medal count; they just want their team to beat the Swedes.

Really, really badly.

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 22
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Russia – 11/10/8 – 29
2. Norway – 11/5/10 – 26
3. Canada – 9/10/5 – 24
4. United States – 9/7/11 – 27
5. Netherlands – 8/7/9 – 24
6. Germany – 8/6/5 – 19
7. Switzerland – 6/3/2 – 11
8. Belarus – 5/0/1 – 6
9. Austria – 4/8/5 – 17
10. France – 4/4/7 – 15
11. Poland – 4/1/1 – 6
12. China – 3/4/2 – 9
13. Korea – 3/3/2 – 8
14. Sweden – 2/6/6 – 14
15. Czech Republic – 2/4/2 – 8
16. Slovenia – 2/2/4 – 8
17. Japan – 1/4/3 – 8
18. Finland – 1/3/1 – 5
19. Great Britain – 1/1/2 – 4
20. Ukraine – 1/0/1 – 2
21. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
22. Italy – 0/2/6 – 8
23. Australia – 0/2/1 – 3
24. Latvia – 0/1/2 – 3
25. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
26. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1

John Shuster, 30 pounds lighter, rallies for 4th Olympic curling berth

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John Shuster is going to a fourth Olympics. It’s one more chance to prove Urban Dictionary wrong.

Shuster, 30 pounds lighter since his second straight Olympic failure in Sochi, led a team that beat Heath McCormick‘s squad at the U.S. Olympic Trials finals in Omaha on Saturday night.

Shuster, Tyler GeorgeMatt Hamilton and John Landsteiner lost the opener of a best-of-three finals series on Thursday.

They came back to deliver in a pair of must-win games, 9-4 on Friday night and 7-5 on Saturday, after spending each day at the Omaha Zoo.

The new-look Shuster — leaner and, at least this weekend, clutch — would astonish those who know him by scenes at the last two Olympics.

After taking bronze in 2006 as a role player, he led the last two U.S. Olympic teams to 2-7 records in 2010 and in 2014. Last place in Vancouver, where he was benched after an 0-4 start. Next to last place in Sochi.

After the last Olympics, the former bartender from Chisholm, Minn., was left off USA Curling’s 10-man high performance team.

He took it as motivation to get in shape.

Shuster, a father of a 2- and a 4-year-old who once said, “If I don’t have pizza three or four times a week, I’m not happy,” now totes meal replacement shakes. He’s starting to enjoy Olympic lifting.

Shuster, George, Hamilton and Landsteiner, all absent from that USA Curling high performance list, formed their own team. They became Team USA in their first season together and represented the Stars and Stripes at worlds in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Their results — fourth, third and fifth —  marked the best string of U.S. men’s or women’s finishes at that level in a decade.

Shuster is set to join Debbie McCormick as the only Americans to curl at four Olympics. The sport was part of the first Winter Games in 1924, then absent as a medal sport until 1998.

“I don’t think it’s about the four Olympics for me,” Shuster said on NBCSN. “What this is about — and what I’m about — is getting my teammates to now. I have two new Olympians on this team, and I know how special that is.”

George, the 35-year-old vice skip for Shuster, led a team that lost to Shuster in the 2010 Olympic Trials final. The liquor store manager from Duluth, Minn., is going to his first Winter Games.

As is the 28-year-old Hamilton, whose younger sister qualified for PyeongChang earlier Saturday.

Landsteiner, a 27-year-old corrosion engineer, played with Shuster since 2011, including in Sochi.

Alternate Joe Polo can go 12 years between Olympic appearances after taking bronze on that Torino team.

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MORE: U.S. Winter Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

Katie Ledecky wins race by 54 seconds, breaks record

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Katie Ledecky is back at Stanford and back to pulverizing distance races.

The sophomore and five-time Olympic champion won a 1,650-yard freestyle by 54.45 seconds at a meet at Texas A&M on Saturday night.

The runner-up was in a different heat; Ledecky won her heat by 1:02.16.

Ledecky lowered her own American record, clocking 15:03.31. She had the previous mark of 15:03.92 set last Nov. 20.

Ledecky had every swimmer lapped in the 25-yard pool before the halfway point and ended up lapping everyone twice.

The men also raced a 1,650 on Saturday. The winner clocked 15:18.95, which was 15.64 seconds slower than Ledecky’s time.

Full results are here.

The 1,650 is the longest race on the NCAA program, while the longest race at the Olympics and world championships is the 1500m.

The No. 2 woman all-time in the 1,650 is triple 2008 Olympic medalist Katie Hoff, a full 21.04 seconds slower.

Ledecky owns the 1500m world record, too, 13.4 seconds faster than any other woman in history.

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MORE: Michael Phelps’ discussion with Katie Ledecky after 2017 Worlds