Day of joy, pain for U.S. men at skeleton race

Jay Busbee
Fourth-Place Medal
Skeleton - Winter Olympics Day 8
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: John Daly of the United States dejected after his run during the Men's Skeleton on Day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

In the Olympics, the difference between medaling and falling short of the podium can be measured in millimeters.

The finals of skeleton ran on Saturday, and two United States men, both medal hopefuls, entered their final race with an opportunity to cement their legacies. But only one man was able to capitalize.

Matt Antoine nabbed a bronze medal, finishing only behind silver medalist Martins Dukurs of Latvia and Aleksandr Tretiakov of Russia, who was unbeatable on this day. It was a joyful moment for Antoine, but it was tempered by the bad fortune of his teammate John Daly.

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One of the U.S.'s breakout stars, Daly appeared on track to nab at least a bronze. But on his final run, heartbreak: his sled popped out of the groove before he'd even boarded it, and he spent the first part of his run sliding all over the ice. His medal shot was over before he'd gone 100 yards.

After the race, Daly, barely holding back tears, spoke to NBC Sports about what had gone wrong.
"i popped out of the groove. It's happened a handful of times in my career," he said. "I guess that's what happened when you go for it ... I don't regret anything, but I do wish I could get that last run back for one more chance."

Asked about what was going through his mind during that final run, when he knew his medal chances were done, Daly was painfully poetic. "I knew it was over," he said. "I had a mile of ice to think about what happened, and now I have four more years to wait."

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter.