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Five favorite moments from Tuesday at the Sochi Olympics

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 10:52 PM EST, Tue February 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Shaun White puts down the snowboard, picks up his guitar
  • An American ski jumper writes history despite failing to fly as far as she wanted
  • Canadian coach helps a Russian skier
  • Second grader sends lucky penny to snowboarder who won gold

(CNN) -- Tuesday brought a shocking result -- at least for Americans -- from the snowboard halfpipe, a magnanimous gesture from one country to another, and just another, ho hum, two gold medals for Norway in its favorite event.

Bad Things for Shaun White

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Visions of Sochi
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Photos: Visions of Sochi Photos: Visions of Sochi

Was it the condition of the halfpipe? Was it the haircut?

Or was it that some days you just get beat?

The big newsmaker in the men's halfpipe was the guy who finished fourth (which might be the worst place to finish if you make it to the Olympic Games).

Many Americans were crushed when they found out Shaun White not only didn't win, he didn't even get a medal. He seemed pretty disappointed himself.

"I had a game plan, I had a specific run I wanted to land and I didn't get to put it down and that's one of the most frustrating things," he said of his mistakes. "If I get to land my run and I get beat I'm OK with that, but it didn't work out that way."

But don't pronounce the king dead just yet, he warned. Those tricks he was landing in practice, ones that he didn't get to break out, they will "carry on for the next few years."

White, 27, may be an old man among snowboarders, but he's giving every indication he'll be back for 2018.

For now, it's time for Bad Things.

We're not referring to his results at Sochi. We're referring to the band for which he plays guitar. He said it will be a nice break from competition.

Historic day for American women

Sarah Hendrickson didn't medal in the women's ski jump, but she made history that can't be taken away. Years from now, she can brag that she was the first woman to ever ski jump in the Olympics.

Tuesday didn't go the way she planned; the 19-year-old, who was a pre-event favorite despite a knee injury, finished 21st.

After the event, she tweeted again, saying: "Ya I didn't win a medal ... you can judge me all you want but you'll never know how hard I worked to jump compete today as an Olympian."

Trust me, we're not judging. Ski jumping takes equal parts crazy, determination and unreal athleticism.

Obviously at 19 she'll have a chance to see several more Olympics. She and the other female jumpers want to compete in a large hill and team event at the 2018 Games in South Korea just like the men. We're thinking they'll get their shot.

Over at the luge track, Erin Hamlin slid into what is traditionally a Germans-only victory celebration and earned a bronze medal.

It was the first medal for an American woman in singles.

"Luge isn't the biggest sport at home and we've never won an individual medal. Hopefully this gives it a boost. I'm happy to pave the way to the future," she said.

Canadian coach lends a hand, er, ski

Anton Gafarov of Russia was struggling. He was well out of contention in the cross-country sprint event after two crashes. During the first he broke a ski. During the second it snapped to the point it was unusable.

Still he was trying to complete the race, despite being almost three minutes behind in an event that takes just longer than that time frame.

That's when an opponent's coach trucked out on the course with a spare ski.

"I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line," Canadian Justin Wadsworth told the Toronto Star. He was baffled as to why the Star even wanted to talk to him about the incident.

Any coach would do something like that, he said. But that's just it, none of the other coaches, not even the Russians, made a move.

Medal marvels

A lot of the sports at the Winter Olympics are dominated by one nation. Speed skating -- the Dutch. Luge -- the Germans. Snowboarding -- the United States, well, most of the time.

But no one has taken home as much hardware as Norway, a country of 5 million, has in cross-country skiing. They've won 38 gold medals, the most top finishes in any Winter Olympics sport.

They added to the total Tuesday when Ola Vigen Hattestad and Maiken Caspersen Falla won the sprint events.

It makes sense that Norway is so good at the sport. According to the Olympic News Service, in or about the year 1200, King Sverre of Norway was the first to have his troops use skis in battle. He ordered his scouts to use them to spy during the Bagler War. The first timed race was held in Norway in the 19th century.

OK, enough of the history lessons.

Norway now tops the overall medals table with 11, six from cross-country skiing.

Letter for Jamie

We could all use a fan letter like this. Jamie Anderson, who won the first women's slopestyle snowboard event, received a "precious letter" from Leanne, who is lives in San Jose, California, and is in second grade.

Bleacher Report says USA Today reporter Mike Foss noticed the letter posted to Anderson's Twitter account. Foss writes that the letter is beyond cute -- it's adorable.

Leanne even interspersed different colored stars into a cheering letter that reads:

Dear Jamie Anderson,

I'm so proud you made the Olyimpic (remember, she's in second grade) team! I've been reading about you and you are really amazing! I learned that you like biking. I like biking, too. I hope you go high and do lots of tricks and do a really good job and do a nice job on the USA team. You are really good at Slopestyle Snowboarding. Rub the penny to get good luck.

Sincerely,

Leanne

And Leanne taped a penny to the letter. Someone needs to get Leanne her own gold medal.

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