USA beats the Winter Olympics medal table red, white, and blue

Two unexpected medals from Americans Bode Miller (silver) and Andrew Weibrecht (bronze) in the men's super-G inflated America's already big lead in the Winter Olympics 2010 medal table.

American Andrew Weibrecht celebrates his bronze in the men's super-G in Whistler, British Columbia, Friday. Such surprising results have vaulted the US to the top of the medal table at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The United States is putting a choke hold on Canada’s Winter Olympics.

Americans Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht took silver and bronze in the men’s super-G Friday – a race in which Americans were considered relative long shots.

It’s just the latest example of how, so far, virtually everything that could go right has for the Americans. As of Friday afternoon here in Vancouver, the US led the medals table with more medals of every color than any other nation at the Olympics: six golds, six silver, and eight bronzes.

The 20 total medals puts the US five medals shy of its performance during the entire Turin Games, where the US finished second – and the Vancouver Olympics are not yet half over.

Looking ahead

Saturday could be another strong day, with alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, long track speedskaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick, and short track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno all competing in events where they are medal favorites.

Beyond that, America continues to have strong medal hopefuls in Nordic combined, women’s hockey, and men’s bobsled, though the schedule suggests the current flood could begin to dry up in the final days.

Then again, America’s deluge of medals has come from sources both expected and shocking, offsetting the few disappointments, such as Lindsey Jacobellis’s disqualification in snowboardcross and Vonn’s mistake in the combined.

Men's super-G result a surprise

On Friday, Miller’s silver in the super-G was a mild shock. Having started the season late after contemplating retirement, Miller is apparently only now rounding into form after an unspectacular season.

The silver was the third silver of his Olympic career and his second medal of these Games, following his bronze in the downhill.

Weibrecht’s bronze in the super-G, however, came out of the clear blue Canada sky. Having never finished on the podium in any World Cup race, Weibrecht used his early start time to his advantage, bombing down the run before it became carved up by later skiers.

The 2-3 finish in super-G comes one night after Evan Lysacek upended the figure skating world, defeating favorite Yevgeny Plushenko in a result that was probably only made possible by the shift away from the old 6.0 scoring system.

America’s success looks, in some ways, familiar. In the halfpipe, American men and women took four of the six medals, meaning that since 2002 the US has won of 12 of the 18 total snowboarding halfpipe medals.

But American dominance in alpine skiing has been almost as impressive, and far more surprising. The US has won a medal in all four alpine events so far, and has won two medals in two of them.

Is USA on track for best Winter Olympics ever?

Already, it is the best performance by an American alpine team in Winter Olympic history.

How likely is it that the US will set new records across the board in these Olympics?

Finishing first. America has only once topped the overall medal table in the Winter Olympics – when it hosted the 1932 Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. The US has a nine-medal lead on Germany now, but Germany should slowly eat away at that as the Games go on. It will be close.

Most-ever medals. The most medals the US has ever won in an Olympics was at Salt Lake in 2002, when it won 34. The US will need to continue its run of getting some surprising medals to match this. The US speedskating team, which drove America up the medal table in 2002, is weak this year.

Most ever-golds. This also happened in Salt Lake, where the US won 10. The US should end up right around this number.


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