Sochi Spotlight: Olympic Champions

By Paul D. Bowker | Feb. 23, 2014, 9:57 a.m. (ET)

Team USA athletes have rung up nine gold medals from the figure skating rink to the slopes at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, equaling the number of gold medals won four years ago in Vancouver.

The victories have included men’s and women’s sweeps by U.S. athletes in the inaugural Olympic disciplines of slopestyle skiing and snowboarding. Of the 27 medals won by U.S. athletes, 12 have come at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Golden performances have included a second career gold medal won by alpine skier Ted Ligety, this one in men’s giant slalom, and the Olympic debut of 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the gold medal in women’s slalom. Also among the historic moments was the gold medal won by ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Their victory marked the first by a U.S. team in the figure skating discipline of ice dance. Because they helped Team USA win a bronze medal in the inaugural team competition, they are the first figure skaters in U.S. history to return home with two Olympic medals from one Winter Games.

Jamie Anderson
Age: 23
Event: Slopestyle snowboarding
This is her: First Olympic medal

Anderson nailed a 95.25 on her final run to win the first Olympic gold medal in slopestyle snowboarding. Her final three tricks were cab 720 tail, switch backside 540 Indy and front side 720 mute.

Maddie Bowman
Age: 20
Event: Halfpipe skiing
This is her: First Olympic medal

In the Olympic debut of halfpipe skiing, Bowman defeated France’s Marie Martinod for the gold medal after finishing third in the qualifying round. “This doesn’t really seem real to me,” said Bowman, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Joss Christensen
Age: 22
Event: Slopestyle skiing
This is his: First Olympic medal

Christensen led a U.S. sweep in the Olympic debut of slopestyle skiing at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. It was the third U.S. sweep in Olympic Winter Games history. Gus Kenworthy earned the silver medal and Nick Goepper took the bronze medal.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Age: 27 (Davis) and 26 (White)
Event: Ice dance
This is their: First Olympic gold medal; third Olympic medal overall

Davis and White finished off a 17-year-run run to Sochi by winning both the short and long programs to claim their first Olympic gold medal. They scored a world-record 195.52 points to defeat 2010 Olympic gold medalists and rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. Davis and White also helped Team USA win a bronze medal in the figure skating team competition. Davis and White earned the silver medal in Vancouver.

Kaitlyn Farrington
Age: 24
Event: Halfpipe snowboarding
This is her: First Olympic medal

Farrington landed a number of tricks in her final run, including a switch backside 720 and backside 900 to win a gold medal in the women’s halfpipe. Three Americans finished among the top four, including bronze medalist Kelly Clark.

Sage Kotsenburg
Age: 20
Event: Slopestyle snowboarding
This is his: First Olympic medal

Kotsenburg finished among the top four in the semifinal and then scored big in the final to win the men’s gold medal in the inaugural slopestyle snowboarding event at the Sochi Games. His winning run included a cab double cork 1260 “Holy Crail” and backside 1620 Japan. His medal marked the first of the Sochi Winter Games.

Ted Ligety
Age: 29
Event: Giant slalom
This is his: Second Olympic gold medal

Ligety, a four-time world cup giant slalom season champion, built a lead of nearly a second after his first run in Sochi and cruised to his second career Olympic gold medal in the second. He is the first American to win the men’s giant slalom gold medal and second American skier to win two Olympic gold medals, joining Andrea Mead Lawrence, who achieved the feat in 1952. Ligety’s first gold medal was in the super combined at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Mikaela Shiffrin
Age: 18
Event: Slalom
This is her: First Olympic medal

Shiffrin, the 2013 world champion in women’s slalom, won a gold medal in her second ever Olympic race after finishing fifth in giant slalom in Sochi. She had a lead of nearly one second after the first run and held off Austria’s Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel to win the event. Shiffrin is the first American gold medalist in women’s slalom since 1972 and is the youngest to ever win the event.

David Wise
Age: 23
Event: Halfpipe skiing
This is his: First Olympic medal

Wise successfully performed a right-side double cork 360, his signature trick, to win the inaugural Olympic men’s halfpipe skiing event.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for