Alvarez Wins a Silver in the Men’s 5,000-Meter Relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics

Every cloud has a silver lining for Eddy Alvarez

Following a disappointing performance by the United States’ short-track speedskating team, the 24-year-old Cuban American skater has finally earned the first Olympic medal of his career.

Eddy Alvarez

Alvarez, J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling and Jordan Malone skated their way to the silver medal on Friday in the men’s 5,000-meter relay, making Alvarez the lone Latino medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“It’s so relieving,” said Alvarez of the team’s second-place finish, making him the first Cuban American male to win a speedskating medal. “I literally feel like I just came out of a spa.”

The second-place finish at the Sochi Games behind Russia, which set an Olympic record, provided a positive ending to a dismal Olympics for Alvarez and his teammates.

It was a struggle to reach the podium for Alvarez. He was disqualified in the 1,500 meters, crashed out of the 1,000 meters and failed to advance out of the preliminaries of the 500, his best event.

The U.S. got a break early in the final when skaters from the Netherlands and China fell, leaving it a two-team race for gold between Russia and the U.S.

The Americans briefly led with a few laps remaining, but the Russians quickly pulled ahead again. Celski couldn’t catch Russian superstar Viktor Ahn, who sped to his eighth Olympic medal and third gold in these games.

The U.S. had been shut out of medals in the first seven short-track events. Americans failed to medal in any of the 12 long-track events.

“It’s a huge weight off our back,” said Malone. “We went into that race and our coach told us he’s just tired of seeing other countries celebrate out there rather than us.

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