By Craig Haley, Olympic Staff Writer
(SportsNetwork.com) - Cue up the Star-Spangled Banner, there are plenty of reasons for national pride.
Only an outstanding late kick by host Russia kept the U.S. Olympic team from repeating as the overall medal winner at the Sochi Games.
The United States, once an after-thought at the Winter Olympics, followed up its record 37 medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games with the second-highest total in Sochi -- 28, including nine gold medals. The Russians led the way with 33 overall medals, including 13 golds.
Some of the bigger-name Americans came up empty in their medal pursuit, but other athletes grabbed the spotlight and became medalists, if not national heroes.
A look at some of the highlights and lowlights of the U.S. Olympic team:
Golden Double - American dominance in the extreme sports has been a staple since their inception at the 1998 Nagano Games, and one of this year's new events -- snowboarding slopestyle -- kick-started the U.S. medal count on the first weekend of the Sochi Games. Sage Kotsenburg captured Team USA's first gold medal, followed less than 24 hours later by Jamie Anderson claiming the women's gold. Totally gnarly.
When Olympic Games Collide - American track and field star Lauryn Williams, a two-time medalist at the Summer Olympics, including a gold, added a silver medal in Sochi by teaming with Elana Meyers in women's bobsledding. Williams became only the fifth athlete to medal at both the Summer and Winter games.
Bring Out the Broom - Nothing was more giving to the American medal haul than the new medal sport of men's ski slopestyle, where there was a red, white and blue sweep. Joss Christensen claimed the event's first-ever Olympic gold, with Gus Kenworthy taking silver and Nicholas Goepper bronze. It was the third time the United States swept a Winter Olympics event.
From Supporting Role to the Lead - With Lindsey Vonn not competing in Sochi, skier Julia Mancuso stepped out of her shadow to claim bronze in the women's super combined -- her fourth medal over four Olympic appearances and two more overall medals that Vonn.
Dance the Night Away - Two-time world champion Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White got it right at the right time. Four years after being the silver medalists in Vancouver, they became the first U.S. pair to capture gold in ice dancing.
On the Other Hand - The United States was shut out of a singles figure skating medal for the first time since Bavaria in 1936. Gracie Gold was aptly named for the Olympics; she just didn't have the result, finishing fourth in the women's competition.
No-No For Lolo - Lolo Jones' controversial addition to the U.S. women's bobsled team seemingly had the appropriate result -- out of medal competition. She and teammate Jazmine Fenlator finished 11th in the USA 3 sled.
Big Disappointment - It was almost unfair that skier Bode Miller's dominant training runs didn't factor into the men's downhill. The most decorated alpine skier in U.S. history only had one shot in the sport's signature event and the little mistakes added up in his disappointing eighth-place finish.
Bigger Disappointment - Shaun White skipped the snowboarding slopestyle to avoid injury and then finished fourth in the men's halfpipe while trying to become the fourth athlete ever to win the same event in three straight Winter Olympics.
Biggest Disappointment - Father Time, and the Dutch, of course, may have caught up to speedskater Shani Davis when the 31-year-old came up short as a heavy favorite to capture his third straight gold in the 1,000 meters.
Sixth Medal Feels Super(-G) - The 36-year-old Miller came back from his disappointment in the downhill and then the men's combined to tie for bronze in the men's super-G. As the oldest Alpine medalist in Olympic history, Miller collected the sixth medal of his career to become the second-most decorated male ski racer in Olympic history. It also tied him for second all-time among all U.S. Winter Olympians.
Must Be the Suits - Davis and Heather Richardson were medal favorites on the U.S. speedskating team which surprisingly was shut out of the podium (the short track contingent pocketed one silver). The Americans placed blame on their Under Armour speedskating suits, which had not been tested in prior competition. They got their old-style suits sent to Sochi during their struggles, but the damage was already done.
Going From Third to First - Luge has long thrilled Americans even while U.S. competitors weren't winning medals. Erin Hamlin changed that by becoming the first American to medal in luge singles, claiming the women's bronze.
Two-for-one - The United States pocketed two medals in the same event for the first time in Sochi when Kaitlyn Farrington won gold and Kelly Clark collected bronze in the snowboarding women's halfpipe. The Americans won multiple medals in four different events.
Oh, to Be Young - Skier Mikaela Shiffrin, at 18, became the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history, beating one of her childhood favorites, Austria's Marlies Schild.
Another Fall - Lindsey Jacobellis is the most successful participant in the young sport of female snowboard cross, but she has never lived down her infamous fall at the 2006 Turin Games when she was hotdogging near the finish line and fell right before she could have captured a gold medal. In Sochi, she held a big lead in her semifinal race, but again took a big spill and didn't advance to the finals.
Remember When - You had to go back 62 years for the last U.S. medal in two-man bobsledding until Steve and Steve -- Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton -- won the bronze medal in the USA 1 sled.
Hot Diggity For Ligety - Widely considered the best giant slalom skier of his generation, Ted Ligety nabbed gold in his third try at the Olympics. It added to his surprising gold in the men's combined at the 2006 Turin Games.
Ice Meltdown - The U.S. women ice hockey team was on the verge of denying Team Canada a fourth straight gold medal in their finals rematch only to surrender a 2-0 lead in the last 3 minutes, 26 seconds of the third period and then a goal in sudden death of a 3-2 loss. Coach Katey Stone's Americans still claimed the silver.
Farewell, Sochi - After finishing fourth in women's skeleton at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Noelle Pikus-Pace retired from the sport. But she made a comeback for the Sochi Olympics and the well-liked 31-year-old mother of two captured silver in the four-heat event, then climbed into the stands following the final race of her career to celebrate with her family. A silver, yes, but a golden moment indeed.
Most Memorable - Winning gold usually rules, but there was no more defining event for Team USA than the men's hockey team's preliminary-round win over Russia, when the game went to eight rounds of a shootout and T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blue was called on for six shots, scoring on four of them, in the thriller. Epic, indeed.
THE 28 U.S. MEDALS
Gold (9) - Sage Kotsenburg (snowboarding - men's slopestyle); Jamie Anderson (snowboarding - women's slopestyle); Kaitlyn Farrington (snowboard - women's halfpipe); Joss Christensen (men's ski slopestyle); Meryl Davis and Charlie White (ice dancing); David Wise (freestyle skiing - men's halfpipe); Ted Ligety (Alpine skiing - men's giant slalom); Maddie Bowman (freestyle skiing - women's halfpipe); Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine skiing - women's slalom)
Silver (7) - Devin Logan (freestyle skiing - women's slopestyle); Gus Kenworthy (men's ski slopestyle); Noelle Pikus-Pace (women's skeleton); Andrew Weibrecht (Alpine skiing - men's super-G); USA 1: Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers (women's bobsled); Team USA (women's ice hockey); Team USA: Eddy Alvarez, J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling and Jordan Malone (short track speedskating - men's 5,000-meter relay)
Bronze (12) - Hannah Kearney (freestyle skiing - women's moguls); Team USA: Gracie Gold, Jason Brown, Meryl Davis and Charlie White (figure skating team event); Julia Mancuso (Alpine skiing - women's combined); Erin Hamlin (women's luge singles); Kelly Clark (snowboarding - women's halfpipe); Nicholas Goepper (men's ski slopestyle); Matthew Antoine (men's skeleton); Bode Miller (Alpine skiing - men's super-G); USA 1: Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton (men's two- man bobsled); Alex Deibold (snowboarding - men's snowboard cross); USA 2: Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans (women's bobsled); USA 1: Steve Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton, Chris Fogt (men's four-man bobsled)
02/24 05:56:41 ET