Olympics

The top American women's bobsled teams took silver and bronze in Sochi Wednesday, but the story of the day was Lauryn Williams, who became just the second American in history to win medals at both Summer and Winter Olympics. She's the fifth person to have accomplished the feat.

Williams won a silver medal to match the silver she won in the 100 meters 10 years ago at the Athens Games. She also owns an Olympic gold medal, from being part of the U.S. women's 4x100 meter relay team in London two summers ago.

If there's one sport in the Winter Olympics you can do with your eyes closed, it's bobsled.

The bobsled brakeman does about five seconds of hard work, jumps in the sled and can then relax a bit. During the women's bobsled competition tonight in Sochi, we should keep our eyes open, because it's fun to watch.

The women call themselves brakemen — not brake women or brake person — in a nod to the fact that bobsled was an all-male sport until 2002.

Even now, the women only race two-man — not four-man — bobsled.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Sports history was made today at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. For the first time, women were allowed to compete in ski jumping. And some of the women who jumped today had been fighting for equality for their sport for more than a decade.

NPR's Tamara Keith was there at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center and joins us now. And Tamara, let's start first with the medalists, who came out on top today?

It took 50 years — and for Erin Hamlin, three Olympics — but an American has finally won a singles medal in the sport. Erin Hamlin took bronze behind two powerful Germans in the women's final Tuesday.

Natalie Geisenberger's winning margin of 1.139 seconds was the largest at the Olympics since 1964, the sport's first year at the games. She set a track record on her first run Monday and did the same again on Tuesday, in a run that saw her top 84.5 mph.

Wednesday, the American women's hockey team meets its arch rival Canada on the ice in Sochi at the Winter Olympics. It's an early round game, but when it comes to these two teams, which are expected to meet in the gold medal game, there's no such thing as a low-stakes match.

Speedskating is the U.S.'s most successful winter Olympic Sport. In Sochi this year, great things are expected again.

The secret to their success includes talent, skill and hard work, but there's also a network of support that buoys the team.

Two-time gold medalist Shani Davis is looking to win a history-making third: He would be the first speedskater to win the same event in three different Olympics.

There's always a lot of drama in figure skating, and not necessarily on the ice. There's the judging and the personalities — think Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

Patty Gold may be the loudest spectator at the bottom of the half-pipe, with her cheers, gasps and the yelling of her children's names. She mostly stands perfectly still with her hands clasped to her face, waiting for scores, safe landings, and possibly medals.

When you meet bobsled driver Steve Holcomb, he doesn't talk about his Olympic gold medal — the one he won with the four-man team at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Instead, he talks about the one that got away.

Four years ago, his two-man bobsled started the Olympic run with a great push. "I was actually winning the race in Vancouver," Holcomb says. But then he "made a driving mistake, and we went from first place to sixth place in two turns."

On a frigid day at Hatcher Pass, north of Anchorage, Alaska, cross-country skier Holly Brooks glides up to a start line.

This race is just a practice with her Alaska Pacific University teammates. It's a chance for Brooks to test her skills before heading to Europe for the busy World Cup season, and then to Sochi in February for the Winter Olympics. Brooks is now a seasoned member of the U.S. Ski Team, but a little more than four years ago, she was on the sidelines.

On July 4, 2009, that all changed.