Established stars and fresh faces shared the spotlight during Day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Winter Games wasted no time jumping into the thick of things. Most of the events began Saturday, and a few Olympians realized a lifelong dream by winning the gold.
For the United States, an unheralded name claimed the nation's first victory of 2014 with a bold endeavor on the grand stage. Other countries, such as the Netherlands and Norway, relied on proven mainstays to bring home the hardware.
Courtesy of NBCOlympics.com, here are the big Olympic winners after Day 1:
|Biathlon: Men's Sprint||Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (Norway)||Dominik Landertinger (Austria)||Jaroslav Soukup (Czech Republic)|
|Cross-Country: Ladies' Skiathlon||Marit Bjoergen (Norway)||Charlotte Kalla (Sweden)||Heidi Weng (Norway)|
|Freestyle Skiing: Ladies' Moguls||Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Canada)||Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (Canada)||Hannah Kearney (U.S.)|
|Snowboard: Men's Slopestyle||Sage Kotsenburg (U.S.)||Staale Sandbech (Norway)||Mark Mcmorris (Canada)|
|Speedskating Men's 5,000 meters||Sven Kramer (Netherlands)||Jan Blokhuijsen (Netherlands)||Jorrit Bergsma (Netherlands)|
Sven Kramer Successfully Defends Speedskating Gold
For the second straight time, Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer won the gold in the 5,000 meters. Not only did he defend his crown, but he set an Olympic record with a time of 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds. The 27-year-old coasted to victory by a comfortable margin of 4.95 seconds to earn his fifth Olympic medal.
Chad Hedrick, the last American to win the 5,000 meters eight years ago, marveled over Kramer's dominance on Twitter:
Congrats to Sven Kramer of The Netherlands. He just won gold in the mens 5000 meter. A legend in the making! #olympicrecord— chadhedrick (@chadhedrick) February 8, 2014
Kramer wasn't the only skater to make his country proud. The Dutch secured a monopoly on the medals, with Jan Blokhuijsen earning silver and Jorrit Bergsma snagging bronze.
Out of a field of 26 competitors, Emery Lehman led the U.S. with a 16th-place finish at 6 minutes, 29.94 seconds.
Snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg Gives U.S. First Gold in 2014
Sage Kotsenburg put the United States on the board with a gold-medal victory in the slopestyle course.
The 20-year-old topped 11 other men with a 93.50 score during his first run. He beat out Norway's Staale Sandbech, who finished second with a 91.75 score during the second round.
Kotsenburg took to Twitter to celebrate becoming the first U.S. winner in Sochi as well as the first winner of the new slopestyle competition:
WOW!! I just won the Olympics!! Bringing back the first Gold here to the USA! Love seeing all the support from everyone YOU RULE!!— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) February 8, 2014
Leading up the event, the slopestyle mostly garnered attention for fellow American Shaun White's decision to forgo the course and focus solely on the halfpipe. But by the end of Saturday, Kotsenburg had claimed the spotlight.
He landed a daring move that he calls the "Holy Crail," in which he spun four-and-a-half times, holding the board behind his back for good measure.
Surely it was a trick he'd practiced dozen of times before the big day, right? Not exactly. According to ESPN.com, Kotsenburg said, "I'd never even tried it before, literally. Never ever tried it before in my life."
That may seem foolish to some, but his fearlessness led him to return home with a gold medal draped around his neck.
Norway Takes the Early Lead
At the end of Day 1, Norway leads the way with two gold medals and four total medals.
Will Norway leave Sochi with the most medals?
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won the biathlon's 10-kilometer sprint, giving the 40-year-old his seventh gold medal. If he leaves Sochi with another medal, he'll set a Winter Games record by claiming his 13th prize.
Marit Bjoergen, 33, picked up a cross-country gold medal in the women's skiathlon to up her gold tally to four. The decorated Olympian earned three first-place finishes in Vancouver.
Norway is loaded with top competitors who have a knack for thriving in the winter elements. This could be just the start of a big Winter Games.