Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Opening Day Winners and Losers
The Opening Ceremony hasn't even taken place, and already the Games have begun.
On the opening day of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the snowboard slopestyle, women's freestyle skiing moguls and figure skating team competition kicked off. Plenty of stars were in action, such as Patrick Chan from Canada and Hannah Kearney from the United States.
Here is a look at some of the biggest winners and losers from the first day of competition.
Winner: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)—Figure Skating
The team figure skating competition began on Thursday with the men's and pairs' short programs, and Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan absolutely stole the show. The 19-year-old skating sensation, who has won back-to-back Japanese national championships, finished in first place, over six points ahead of Russia's Evgeni Plushenko.
With charisma and effortless jumps—including a quadruple toe loop and a triple axel—he owned the ice from start to finish. Hanyu even brought out cheers even from the Plushenko-biased crowd in Sochi. He just might be a breakout star during these Olympic Games.
Loser: Jeremy Abbott (USA)—Figure Skating
It was a disastrous start to the Olympics for Jeremy Abbott and, by extension, America's hope for a gold in the figure skating team competition. The four-time national champion fell on his opening quad and slid into the boards, and the routine hardly improved from there.
Abbott finished seventh in the men's program and told the press he was "torn apart" that he couldn't do better for his team. U.S. pairs champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir didn't fare much better, finishing fifth.
Overall, Team USA is currently in seventh place, and it needs strong skates from Ashley Wagner and the pairing of Meryl Davis and Charlie White on Saturday to move into the top five and advance to the medal round.
Winner: Hannah Kearney (USA)—Freestyle Skiing Moguls
Freestyle skiing got off to a great start with the women’s moguls qualification runs. Most of the favorites made it straight through to the finals with ease.
This includes American Hannah Kearney, who is skiing in her final Olympics. The defending champion from the Vancouver Games eased through the course and into first place. Kearney is the heavy favorite, and she is trying to become the first freestyle skier to ever win two gold medals at the Olympics.
Loser: Silje Norendal (NOR)—Snowboard Slopestyle
Silje Norendal had a lot of expectations on her shoulders coming into these Games, as the 20-year-old snowboarder from Norway upset slopestyle favorite Jamie Anderson to win the X Games last month.
But Norendal struggled in her qualification run, meaning she will have to participate in the semifinals on Saturday to see if she can even advance to the finals. She was in eighth place in her heat, and only the top four from each heat made it automatically to the final. She's not out of it yet, but her journey to the Sochi podium just got a lot more difficult.
Winner: Max Parrot (CAN)—Snowboard Slopestyle
Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot came into the Olympics with a lot of attention on him after capturing a somewhat surprising victory in the X Games last month.
The 19-year-old carried that momentum over to the qualifying runs Thursday, finishing first with a score of a 97.5—just shy of a perfect 100. Parrot was only disappointed that Shaun White had pulled out of the event. He told reporters, "I want to know who's better."
Loser: Mark McMorris (CAN)—Snowboard Slopestyle
In the lead-up to the Games, many considered Canadian Mark McMorris to be the favorite to win the snowboarding slopestyle event. But the 20-year-old broke his ribs in the X Games last month, and there were lots of question marks surrounding him headed into Sochi.
He fell during his first qualification run, and though he pulled off a clean second run, it didn't score that high—only 89.25. McMorris didn't place high enough to make it straight to the final, so he'll have to compete in both the semifinals and finals on Saturday if he wants to win a medal. Not an easy task.
Winner: Jamie Anderson (USA)—Snowboard Slopestyle
Jamie Anderson is the favorite for gold in the women’s snowboarding slopestyle, and she’s in great position after qualifying in second place on Thursday.
The 23-year-old is still behind Austria’s Anna Gasser, who scored a 95.50 and qualified in first place, but Anderson is surely saving her best rides for the final. American Karly Shorr qualified fourth in the same heat, which also sends her straight to the final.
Loser: Women's Downhill Skiing Course
The women’s downhill skiing course opened up for training runs Thursday, but things didn’t go very smoothly. After just three skiers went through their runs, there were so many complaints about the height of the jump at the bottom of the course that the practice session was shut down for the morning and moved to the afternoon.
Skiers thought that more experienced forerunners, who could have simulated the speeds of world-class skiers, would have made a big difference.
Organizers fixed the course later in the day, but it was too late for Italy’s Daniela Merighetti, who landed awkwardly after the giant jump and hurt both of her knees.
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