The group of athletes representing the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi fought back from a near-disastrous start to claim bronze in the inaugural figure skating team event final on Feb. 9. A series of sterling routines claimed gold for home nation Russia, while a strong Canadian team took the silver.
After men's national champion Jeremy Abbott opened the competition on Feb. 6 with an error-pocked free program that left the team in seventh place, each subsequent performer in the short program round, including former two-time national champ Ashley Wagner, reigning national champion pairs skaters Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, and reigning World ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, brought their best to the ice to earn a spot in the five-team medal round alongside teams from Russia, Canada, Italy and Japan.
On Feb. 9, fan favorite Jason Brown made his Olympic debut as he opened for the U.S. team with his enormously popular "Riverdance" long program. Despite an uncharacteristic fall, the skate landed him fourth place behind winner and home crowd favorite Evgeni Plushenko. National champion Gracie Gold followed with a spectacular performance that earned an impressive mark of 129.38, which topped her season-best by more than 11 points. She finished her segment second to only 15-year old Russian prodigy Julia Lipnitskaia, who is expected to contend for gold in the ladies' singles event.
Davis and White, who entered the Sochi Games favored to win ice dancing gold, performed last and didn't disappoint. Their stunning free skate set a new world record mark of 114.34 and toppled the score they set during December's Grand Prix Final.
Wagner, whose nomination to the team stirred controversy after a pair of bad skates left her a disappointing fourth at January's nationals, was giddy over achieving a podium finish in her debut Olympic event. She tweeted fans following the event, writing "I am an OLYMPIC MEDALIST!!! THANK YOU TO MY INCREDIBLE TEAM! Also huge thanks to our fearless leader @CharlieaWhite who led us 2 the bronze!"