Although the opening ceremonies have not yet begun, Feb. 6 represented the first day of action for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
There were no medals to win on Thursday, but athletes could certainly put themselves out of the running thanks to poor performances in the early stages. Between qualification rounds and first runs for multi-day events, the pressure was certainly on the line for everyone competing.
Here is a look at the results from Day 1 of the Winter Games, courtesy of Sochi2014.com unless otherwise noted.
Snowboarding—Men's Slopestyle Qualification
|Heat||Heat Rank||Name||Country||Best Score|
|1||4||Jamie Nicholls||Great Britain||86.75|
The qualification round does not eliminate anyone, but it gives the eight best riders a chance to qualify directly into the finals on Saturday, Feb. 8. The rest of the competitors will have to first compete in the semifinals.
Of course, the biggest story regarding this event occurred before anyone stepped on the course. Two-time half-pipe gold medalist Shaun White decided to drop out of the inaugural slopestyle event due to injury concerns:
BREAKING: Shaun White pulls out of slopestyle, story to follow.— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 5, 2014
This leaves things open for 29 other competitors, and quite a few took advantage on the first day.
Maxence Parrot was the most impressive following up his 91.75 on his first run with an incredible 97.50 on his second. As Davide Pigazza of Gazzetta TV notes, this was a historic performance:
Considering just the best run counts, Parrot did not even need his second run to clinch a spot in the finals, but he did it anyway.
Interestingly, the current leader was disappointed that White was not competing. According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), Parrot explained, "I'm just mad about it because I want to compete against him. I want to know who's better."
Still, the rest of the competition went on as planned without the star athlete. In the first heat, Staale Sandbech dominated his competition thanks to a second run of 94.50 to advance to the finals.
None of the three American competitors qualified for the finals yet. Charles Guldemond was closest with a fifth-place finish in Heat 1, but he, Sage Kotsenburg and Ryan Stassel will all have to do better in the semifinals.
Snowboarding—Women's Slopestyle Qualification
|Heat||Heat Rank||Name||Country||Best Score|
|2||2||Jamie Anderson||United States||93.50|
|3||4||Karly Shorr||United States||84.75|
Similar to the men's competition, the qualification round gives a chance for the top women to advance directly to the finals. Four athletes in each heat earn this privilege with the best score in two runs.
American Jamie Anderson entered the day as one of the favorites and did not disappoint with a 93.50 score on her first run. Feeling this was good enough to qualify, she did not even make a second run.
Patrick Reusse of 1500 ESPN points out that it was the right decision while updating on the rest of the American competitors:
USA's Jamie Anderson & Karly Shorr advance directly to women's slopestyle final. Jessika Jenson & Ty Walker do not. #primetimepreview— Patrick Reusse (@1500ESPN_Reusse) February 6, 2014
However, the second run did have quite a few strong performance, including from Anna Gasser, who topped Anderson with her score, courtesy of Kate Pettersen of CBC:
Isabel Derungs also put together a solid showing to win her heat with a score of 87.50.
Although the scores reset for the finals, the competition between these two top athletes is certainly heating up heading into the gold-medal round on Sunday, Feb. 9.
Freestyle Skiing—Women's Moguls Qualification
|1||Hannah Kearney||United States||23.05|
|4||Eliza Outtrim||United States||21.51|
The first run at the women's moguls qualification gave 10 of the 30 competitors a chance to move directly into the finals on Feb. 8. The rest of them will get another chance to reach the finals with the second day of qualification earlier on Saturday.
Coming in first was defending champion Hannah Kearney, who cruised into the finals with a first-place run. Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune provides an update on the top two Americans in the competition:
US moguls skiers Hannah Kearney and Eliza Outtrim advance easily into finals. Finished first and fourth respectively in qualification round.— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 6, 2014
Meanwhile, Canada also had an impressive day with all four competitors in the finals, including three sisters, according to Amanda Stein of TSN:
Chloe, Justine and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe each showcased their abilities, finishing in second, third and eighth, respectively. This trio remains one of the most interesting stories to follow in the entire Olympics.
Although these competitors make it look easy, NBC Olympics makes it look terrifying:
Still, the athletes already through have shown they have what it takes to contend for a gold medal. Based on what we have seen, it will be a tight race at the end.
Figure Skating—Team Men's Short Program
|7||Jeremy Abbott||United States||65.65||4|
|9||Matthrew Parr||Great Britain||57.40||2|
|10||Paul Bonifacio Parkinson||Italy||53.94||1|
For the first time ever at the Olympics, 10 teams will compete for an overall medal to go with individual titles. Things started off with the men's short program as the winner hoped to come away with a maximum of 10 points for his country.
That winner was Yuzuru Hanyu, who came through with an impressive 97.98 to earn 10 points for Japan. The 19-year-old was completely composed in this first Olympics in a difficult routine described by Nick McCarvel of NBC Olympics:
McCarvel also captured a picture of Canada's Patrick Chan, the favorite in the men's competition:
Unfortunately for Canada, Chan only managed third in the short program behind Russia's Yevgeny Plushenko.
NBCOlympics.com shared some highlights on its website of the figure skating action.
The United States, which was considered one of the favorites to at least medal in the team competition, struggled on Day 1 thanks to a poor showing by Jeremy Abbott. NBC Sports provided a view of Abbott falling during his routine:
The US sits seventh in the team competition after a disappointing short program by Jeremy Abbott. Pairs is next. pic.twitter.com/rgSjL2IXE3— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) February 6, 2014
Christine Brennan of USA Today was not happy with the competitor's words after the performance:
Jeremy Abbott said this about awful skate: "For me I think it was a very positive step." You've gotta be kidding me. For USA, not so much.— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 6, 2014
Still, this is a long competition featuring a short program and free skate for every category, and everyone is still alive after Thursday.
Figure Skating—Team Pairs Short Program
|1||Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov||Russia||83.79||10|
|2||Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford||Canada||73.10||9|
|3||Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang||China||71.01||8|
|4||Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek||Italy||70.31||7|
|5||Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir||United States||64.25||6|
|6||Maylin Wende & Daniel Wende||Germany||60.82||5|
|7||Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres||France||57.45||4|
|8||Narumi Takahashi & Ryuichi Kihara||Japan||46.56||3|
|9||Julia Lavrentieva & Yuri Rudyk||Ukraine||46.34||2|
|10||Stacey Kemp & David King||Great Britain||44.70||1|
After the men's singles did their short program earlier in the day, the pairs did their best to either improve upon the lead or make up ground. All 10 countries have entries in the short program for all four events. Then, only the top five country's have entries represent them in the free skate.
McCarvel points out that the Canadian duo of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were among the best out there:
While they sat in first place for a while, it only lasted until the Russian team of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took the ice. They ran a near perfect skate in front of the home fans, leading to a giant reception, according to Ollie Williams of BBC:
Standing ovation for Russian pairs skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in team event. Bigger reception than Plushenko from fans.— Ollie Williams (@OllieW) February 6, 2014
They deserved every ounce of the applause, too, as they finished with a score of 83.79, more than 10 points better than anyone else in the competition. This put Russia in first place for the team score with 19 total points. Canada currently sits in second place with 17.
Americans Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir had a better performance than their teammate, but they still had a slip on triple Salchows early on, which kept the score at 64.25, good enough for fifth place.
Liz Clarke of the Washington Post thinks this will damage the United States' chances of medaling:
Could US FIgure skaters fail to advance to the medal round for #Sochi2014 team medal? Am starting to wonder after Castelli/Shnapir struggle— Liz Clarke (@lizclarketweet) February 6, 2014
With the women's and ice dancing portions of the competition set for Saturday, Feb. 8, there is a lot of ground to make up for plenty of the countries.
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