Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 14

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During these Sochi Olympics, Team Canada supporters have been fond of declaring #WeAreWinter on social media.

Right now, even some of the biggest Team USA diehards must be wondering if they’re actually right.

On Wednesday, Canadians Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse rallied from two-tenths down to beat Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams of the U.S. in women’s bobsled.

On Thursday, the Canadians charged from a two-goal deficit and defeated the U.S. in overtime for their fourth consecutive Olympic title in women’s hockey.

And in today’s men’s hockey semifinal, the Canadians sucked the life out of what had been a potent American offense, only needing a lone goal from Jamie Benn to win, 1-0, and move on to Sunday’s gold medal game against Sweden.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Canada also won a pair of golds today in men’s curling (following their female counterparts’ lead) and women’s ski cross.

Needless to say, it must be pretty fun right now in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and all other points north of the border…

But U.S. fans still smarting from today’s hockey loss can perhaps take solace in knowing that their country’s much-heralded “future superstar” in Alpine skiing has officially become one in the present.

Mikaela Shiffrin tossed the ninth gold medal into the Americans’ haul at these Games by becoming the youngest Olympic champion, man or woman, in the slalom. It’s the first U.S. victory in the event since Phil Mahre’s in 1984, and the first in the women’s slalom since Barbara Cochran’s in 1972.

Adding to the occasion was that she shared the podium with two of the best in the world in Austria’s Marlies Schild (silver) and Kathrin Zettel (bronze) – who Shiffrin called her greatest idols after the race.

“I modeled myself after them,” the 18-year-old phenom said in a team release. “To be in this moment with them – to share it with my family and friends, my team and my coaches, and everyone who has been in my past and will be in my future, it’s just very special.”

The victory earned her props from American skiing luminaries like Julia Mancuso, Bode Miller, and Picabo Street…

Also having a great day was Russian short track star Victor Ahn, who won not one but two golds this afternoon in the men’s 500m and as part of the men’s 5000m relay. The latter race saw Team USA finally earn a speedskating medal, with anchor J.R. Celski and his crew coming away with the silver…

In biathlon, Ukraine’s women’s relay foursome won gold but did not celebrate as their country continues to deal with violence sparking from anti-government demonstrations. South Korea also got a gold today from Park Seung-Hi in the short track women’s 1000m

Out of competition, the International Skating Union defended its judging system for figure skating after Adelina Sotnikova’s surprise win…

Meanwhile, Sotnikova herself is setting her sights on getting “all the gold that there is” after her Olympic triumph…

Russian president Vladimir Putin told her “the whole Russia is proud of you”

Ashley Wagner of the U.S. called for the end of anonymous figure skating judging after yesterday’s result left her “speechless”…

Former world champion figure skater and NBC Olympics researcher Kimmie Meissner turned the spotlight on bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy

Under Armour announced a new eight-year deal with U.S. Speedskating despite taking criticism for their new suits that debuted in Sochi and were ultimately replaced…

And women’s hockey star Julie Chu has been chosen as the U.S. flagbearer for the Closing Ceremony.

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 21
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)
1. Norway – 10/4/8 – 22
2. Russia – 9/10/7 – 26
3. Canada – 9/10/5 – 24
4. United States – 9/7/11 – 27
5. Germany – 8/4/4 – 16
6. Netherlands – 6/7/9 – 22
7. Switzerland – 6/3/2 – 11
8. Belarus – 5/0/1 – 6
9. France – 4/4/7 – 15
10. Poland – 4/0/0 – 4
11. China – 3/4/2 – 9
12. Korea – 3/2/2 – 7
13. Austria – 2/7/3 – 12
14. Sweden – 2/6/6 – 14
15. Czech Republic – 2/4/2 – 8
16. Slovenia – 2/1/4 – 7
17. Japan – 1/4/3 – 8
18. Finland – 1/3/0 – 4
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

FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
Getty Images
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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

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Jenny Thompson’s new team is on the front line fighting coronavirus

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Two weeks ago, Jenny Thompson, the 12-time Olympic swimming medalist turned anesthesiologist, told close friends about the worrisome situation at her hospital in Charleston, S.C.

Thompson and her perioperative team of 40 or 50 were stressed that they would not have the most effective personal protective equipment (PPE) for when the coronavirus pandemic peaks there, projected to be later this month.

The messages caused fellow former Stanford swimmers and Olympic teammates Gabrielle Rose and Lea Maurer to act.

“She almost never asks for any sort of help or support,” Maurer said. “She’s Herculean in her ability to take on life and all its challenges.”

Rose and Maurer started a GoFundMe titled “Go Jenny Go” on March 22 for help to purchase PPE for the hospital. At the time, critical care doctors were “scrambling to piece together purchases on their own in anticipation of their high risk patients,” Maurer wrote.

Thompson said the PPE situation is better now. The GoFundMe was suspended Wednesday. Future support is directed to help those in New York City. Thompson specifically noted a GoFundMe for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

More than $9,000 was raised in less than two weeks. Also, the hospital started receiving more PPE on its own. Thompson’s team now feels prepared for what’s to come.

“People were responding and donating from all chapters of my life,” Thompson said by phone Thursday. “People I didn’t even know. Family from USA Swimming and international swimming. It’s really touched me to know that so many people care and are able to donate, help share the message.”

Thompson woke at 4 a.m. several days this week with thoughts of her peers in New York City. Healthcare workers there have cited a lack of PPE in putting their own lives at risk while they fight to save others. Some have contracted the virus.

“We’ve been fortunate [in South Carolina]. I feel lucky,” Thompson said. “We’ll definitely be in a place where we’re taking care of a lot of Covid patients, but we’re not there yet.

“I’ve heard people say, people in healthcare knew what they were signing up for. I never signed up to get sick and potentially die from this job. I always assumed that I would have the protection or the supplies needed to help me do my job, and that’s been a real struggle nationwide.”

Thompson went to medical school in New York at Columbia University starting in 2001.

“I’d been there maybe a couple weeks at Columbia, when 9/11 happened,” she said. “I remember feeling very helpless as a first-year medical student. I wanted to help so badly, but there really wasn’t much I could do. All my classmates felt the same way. I’ve always had that as part of the making of me as a doctor, having to go through crisis, but I never imagined a pandemic. I guess some people prepare for this sort of thing their whole life, but I didn’t.”

The term “front lines” has been applied to healthcare workers around the globe. Thompson said it’s apt at her hospital.

“We definitely have Covid here, but we have not had a major outbreak like some other cities,” she said. “We consider every patient who we give general anesthesia and intubate to be a potential risk. As anesthesia providers and people who intubate the airway, we are on the front line. We are at a much higher risk of getting sick without the right PPE.”

Thompson’s team feels more ready for the peak with every passing day. They’re simulating, donning and doffing and scheduling to work longer shifts starting next week. The preparation extends home, where she has a husband and three children.

“I have, like, four different pairs of shoes,” Thompson said. “I spray my socks with fabric disinfectant. I take them off in the car, and then I put on flip-flops. Then when I get home, I shower and put my clothes in the wash immediately. It’s a strange place to be, but just consider everything I touch to be contaminated in an effort to protect myself.”

Both Rose and Maurer still see in Thompson that swimmer who awed them in college. As Thompson trained to become the most decorated female U.S. Olympian in history, she studied at Stanford and then Columbia to become a doctor.

“I knew I wanted to take care of critically ill patients,” she said.

As a swimmer, Thompson was known as the ultimate teammate. Eight Olympic gold medals in relays, often an anchor. Always there. Dependable.

“She knows that she’s going to make a difference,” Maurer said. “She knows that she’s going to achieve that goal. She knows that she’s going to help to make people better. And so she does it.”

Thompson believes the next few weeks will be unlike anything she’s ever faced.

“Everybody was sort of freaking out in the beginning and feeling very stressed, and I think that at some level has not gone away,” she said. “That’s going to stay with us, but we have a we-can-do-this-together fighting mentality that we are leaning on each other for. It’s really no different than being a part of any kind of team.”