Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Day 1 Medal Results
Day 1 of the 2014 Winter Olympics gave plenty of joy to those in Norway and the Netherlands.
Norway won two gold medals by way of Marit Bjoergen in cross-country skiing and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in biathlon.
The Netherlands earned three medals in one event, the men's 5,000-meter speedskating, a charge that was led by Sven Kramer, who won the gold in Vancouver in 2010 as well.
Another defending gold medalist who was not so lucky was Hannah Kearney of the United States, who could only manage a bronze in the women's moguls.
The United States did earn one gold medal as Sage Kotsenburg won the men's snowboarding slopestyle early in the day.
Continue reading for complete recaps and results from all five medal events on Saturday.
Snowboard: Men's Slopestyle
American Sage Kotsenburg pulled off the first surprise of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, winning gold in the inaugural men's snowboarding slopestyle event at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Kotsenburg, a 20-year-old from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, scored a 93.5 on his first of two runs in Saturday's final, which held up against a field full of world-renowned slopestylers. Kotsenburg had to qualify for the final through Saturday morning's semifinal.
Norway's Staale Sandbech won the silver with 91.75 points, while Canadian Mark McMorris shook off yet another fall in his first run to post an 88.75 in his second try to earn the bronze. McMorris also crashed in his initial run during Thursday's qualifying round and on his first try during the semifinal.
Canadian Max Parrot, considered the favorite in this event after American Shaun White withdrew, finished fifth.
Gold: Sage Kotsenburg, United States
Silver: Staale Sandbech, Norway
Bronze: Mark McMorris, Canada
Results via B/R’s snowboarding tracker
Gold: Max Parrot, Canada
Silver: Staale Sandbech, Norway
Bronze: Mark McMorris, Canada
In recent days, this field opened up quite a bit—or got a lot less interesting, depending on your perspective. First, Norwegian Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone and was forced to pull out. Then Shaun White withdrew from the event to focus on halfpipe and protect his health or personal brand or something like that.
But these losses equal gains for the Great White North, which could now land two medalists as a result. Max Parrot was a favorite coming in, and that position is now strengthened. (Also, serious props to Parrot for calling White "scared" following White's withdrawal.) Parrot had the highest score in the qualifiers and won top honors at the recent Winter X Games.
Veteran countryman and X Games silver medalist Mark McMorris should now be able to crash the podium as well. Surprisingly, he didn't make it through qualifiers, but he should make it into the final through a special semifinal round Saturday morning. Sandwiched between them is Norwegian Staale Sandbech.
Cross-Country Skiing: Women's Skiathlon
Norway's Marit Bjoergen defended her Olympic title in the women's skiathlon, claiming gold on Saturday at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center.
Bjoergen, who won five medals (including three golds) at Vancouver in 2010, upped her career medal total to eight with the victory. She finished the 15-kilometer course, which involves skiers doing the first half via the classic style and the second half in the freestyle form, in 38 minutes, 33.6 seconds.
Earning the silver was Sweden's Charlotte Kalla, who finished 1.8 seconds behind Bjoergen, while Norway's Heidi Weng was third.
The top U.S. Finisher was Jessica Diggins, who finished eighth. No American has ever medaled in the skiathlon, formerly known as the pursuit, which has been an Olympic event since 1992.
Gold: Marit Bjoergen, Norway
Silver: Charlotte Kalla, Sweden
Bronze: Heidi Weng, Norway
Results via B/R’s cross-country skiing tracker
Gold: Marit Bjoergen, Norway
Silver: Therese Johaug, Norway
Bronze: Kristin Stoermer Steira, Norway
All Norway, all the time.
The skiathlon consists of a 7.5 km "classic" ski (where there are already grooves in the snow for skiers to follow) and a 7.5 km "free" ski (no grooves).
Though this may not be the most electrifying sport on the planet to some, fans will want to tune in for Marit Bjoergen, who has a chance to be one of the Games' most decorated athletes. The skiathlon is her first leg on the journey.
She'll be in good company, too, with Therese Johaug and Kristin Stoermer Steira bringing up the rear and making it a clean sweep for the Norwegians.
Speedskating: Men's 5,000 Meters
Sven Kramer led the Dutch in a podium sweep in the men's 5000-meter race Saturday as he combined with Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma to set the tone early in a sport usually dominated by the Netherlands.
Kramer, the gold medalist from Vancouver in the event, set a new Olympic record with a time of six minutes, 10.76 seconds.
During his time on the ice, Kramer did not see a single lap time go over 30 seconds.
While Blokhuijsen and Bergsma delivered solid performances, Kramer blew them out of the water as he beat them by close to five seconds.
Blokhuijsen edged out Bergsma for the silver medal in the penultimate heat of the competition with a time of 6:15.71.
No United States skater placed above 16th, as Emery Lehman, Jonathan Kuck and Patrick Meek all had disappointing runs.
The three medals are the first three for the Netherlands in Sochi, and there will be plenty more to come for them in the upcoming days in speedskating.
Gold: Sven Kramer, Netherlands, 6:10.76
Silver: Jan Blokhuijsen, Netherlands, 6:15.71
Bronze: Jorrit Bergsma, Netherlands, 6:16.66
Gold: Sven Kramer, Netherlands
Silver: Jorrit Bergsma, Netherlands
Bronze: Seung-Hoon Lee, South Korea
It's hard to argue with Sven Kramer in the top spot. He's the 2010 Olympic champion in this event, defending world titleholder and six-time European champ. He has also held the world record since 2007.
So. Yeah. Unless a stray dog makes its way into his skating lane, you can mark him in ink for the gold medal.
Jorrit Bergsma is a rock-solid long-distance veteran, and he took the silver in the world games last year behind Kramer (those games, by the way, were held in Sochi). Seung-Hoon Lee is the bronze medalist, and methinks he edges out Dutchman Bob de Jong to prevent an all-Netherlands podium.
Biathlon: Men's 10 km Sprint
The Olympic legend of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen reached yet another new height Saturday as he won his seventh gold and 12th overall medal in the 10 km sprint.
The 40-year-old recovered from one penalty on the shooting end of the competition to finish in a time of 24:33.5.
Bjoerndalen beat out Dominik Landertinger of Austria, who finished in a time of 24:34.8 and had a clean round of shooting.
The bronze medal went to Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic, whose clean sheet of shooting helped him earn a time of 24:39.2.
Bjoerndalen, who first competed at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, has won seven gold medals in four different Olympics.
The Norwegian legend won the sprint competitions back in Nagano and Salt Lake City as well.
His 12th medal tied Bjorn Daehlie for most medals ever by a winter Olympian. He also became the oldest individual medalist in a winter event.
Bjoerndalen's gold was the second of the day for Norway, as Marit Bjoergen won the women's cross-country 7.5-kilometer race earlier in the day.
Gold: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norway, 24:33.5
Silver: Dominik Landertinger, Austria, 24:34.8
Bronze: Jaroslav Soukup, Czech Republic, 24:39.2
Gold: Martin Fourcade, France
Silver: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norway
Bronze: Arnd Peiffer, Germany
How can you pick against someone with such a well-manicured beard? I'll tell you right now: I'm not going to do it.
No, it's Martin Fourcade all the way for me. Not unlike swimming in the Summer Games, the biathlon suite of events regularly produces multiple medalists. Maybe that's why he's being mentioned in the same breath as Michael Phelps (though Fourcade, per Julian Pretot of Reuters, rejects the comparison).
There's also the fact that he's favored in all four events in which he's entered. He is the World Cup leader in the sport and won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics at the ripe age of 21.
If Fourcade is Phelps, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is Michael Jordan. The man has six Olympic biathlon golds and an insane 114 World Cup event wins. He's now 40 years old and probably competing in his last Olympics. I think the lion goes out on a high note and pulls a mild upset in the sprint.
Freestyle Skiing: Women's Moguls
Reigning Olympic champion Hannah Kearney was knocked off her throne by a pair of sisters from Canada.
Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe finished in first and second to hand Canada its first gold and silver of the Sochi Games.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe went fourth in the six-person superfinal and earned a score of 22.44, which was better than the one put up by her sister, Chloe, and Kearney.
Chloe Dufour-Lapointe recorded a score of 21.66, while Kearney hit a rough patch at the beginning of her superfinal run and ended with a score of 21.49.
Aiko Uemara of Japan, Britteny Cox of Australia and Eliza Outtrim rounded out the top six, who all competed in the superfinal round.
Gold: Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Canada)
Silver: Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (Canada)
Bronze: Hannah Kearney (United States)
Gold: Hannah Kearney, United States
Silver: Justine Dufour-LaPointe, Canada
Bronze: Chloe Dufour-LaPointe, Canada
Of all the events of the day, this one easily offers the best medal chance for Team USA.
The favorite coming in, Hannah Kearney stayed true to form in taking the top score in the qualifying round. She also is a sentimental favorite for many freestyle skiing fans both domestic and abroad, as she has overcome a litany of injuries to become the best in the world at what she does (she also won the Olympic gold in 2010).
As for the other two medal positions, far be it from me to turn down a good storyline. The Dufour-LaPointe sisters finished second and third in the qualifiers. Though Chloe took second in the qualifiers, Justine is the more decorated competitor and should flip positions with her sister on the podium. And if that's not enough, a third sister, Maxime, also has qualified.