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Winter Olympics Day 6: US crushes with double mctwists and downhill dominance

The US won a record six medals in one day Wednesday, including three ascendant performances for gold by Lindsey Vonn, Shani Davis, and Shaun White.

By Staff writer / February 18, 2010

American Shaun White performs a trick during the men's snowboarding halfpipe finals at the Vancouver Winter Olympics Wednesday night. He won the gold easily.

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West Vancouver, British Columbia

If you are Stephen Colbert – or any American for that matter – now might be a good time to look at the Winter Olympic medal table.

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On Wednesday, the United States did not only “Defeat the World” – as the Colbert sticker posted around Vancouver implores – it crushed them.

Indeed, something happened Wednesday that had never before happened: The United States won six Winter Olympic medals in one day – one short of the now-defunct East Germany’s Winter Olympic record. For perspective, remember that in 1988 the United States won six medals during the entire Winter Olympic Games.

Yet something else also happened that is less definable, but far more impressive: On Wednesday, three United States athletes won gold medals with performances so dominating that the rest of the world could do nothing whatsoever about it.

Bear in mind, the world is pretty good at this Winter Olympic thing.

Between 1952 and 2002, the United States finished higher than fourth in the overall medal table only twice – both in Olympics it hosted. For the bulk of recent Winter Olympic history, America has been also-rans, picking up medals in a few specialty sports like speedskating and figure skating, but otherwise watching the Winter Olympics with a sort of bemused indifference.

Nordic combined: Ski jumping and cross-country. And that would be fun, how?

Sunday, it was a riot, with the US finishing second, fourth, and sixth.

And Wednesday, the Winter Olympics were like a Saints Super Bowl party, minus the beads.

Lindsey Vonn was already the best downhill skier in the world before the Olympics began. But her gold medal Wednesday was something akin to spiking the ball in the end zone.

Bum shin? Devilish course? All the pressure NBC can muster?

Her response: I’ll take all that and still beat every non-American in the field by 1-1/2 seconds – the skiing equivalent of the entire Pleistocene age.

Surely, Colbert will be wanting to sign her thigh next.

And what of speedskater Shani Davis, owner of the 1000-meter world record and captain of the Olympic Buzzkill team?

The question was less whether he would win the 1000 meters on ice teammate Chad Hedrick likened to “running uphill,” than whether he would acknowledge that a human being named Chad Hedrick exists.

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