On Saturday, the United States got their first medal (and gold!) of the 2014 Sochi Games, added another with a familiar face reaching the podium and watched as several nations dominated particular events.
All in all, it was a great start to this year's Winter Olympics.
Below, we'll recount the list of winners from each event that awarded a medal on Saturday, and provide a quick recap of the action. Let the games begin!
|Biathlon||Men's Sprint 10km||Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Norway||Dominik Landertinger, Austria||Jaroslav Soukup, Czech Republic|
|Cross-Country||Ladies' Skiathlon 7.5km Classic + 7.5km Free||Marit Bjoergen, Norway||Charlotte Kalla, Sweden||Heidi Weng, Norway|
|Snowboard||Men's Slopestyle Finals||Sage Kotsenburg, United States||Staale Sandbech, Norway||Mark McMorris, Canada|
|Speed Skating||Men's 5000m||Sven Kramer, Netherlands||Jan Blokhuijsen, Netherlands||Jorrit Bergsma, Netherlands|
|Freestyle Sking||Women's Moguls||Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Canada||Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, Canada||Hannah Kearney, United States|
The United States got off to an excellent start on Saturday, as Sage Kotsenburg earned gold in the snowboard men's slopestyle (the event which Shaun White famously withdrew from). It was an unexpected win, as Rick Maese of The Washington Post writes:
“I’m pretty surprised I won, honestly,” [Kotsenburg] said.
How unlikely was Kotsenburg’s gold medal win? Well, consider this: He won a Grand Prix event three weeks ago in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Before that, he was stuck in a “mega drought” and by his own recollection hadn’t won a snowboard competition since he was 11.
“Coming here and winning, I can’t even describe the feeling,” he said. “It’s so cool.”
Kotsenburg himself never expected to reach the final, so he was pretty loose heading into his last run. How loose? According to Maese, for the first time ever Kotsenburg attempted (and landed) a 1620 Japan, a pretty crazy trick that includes four-and-a-half spins.
CNN's Rachel Nichols has more on Kotsenburg:
The other United States medalist was moguls skier Hannah Kearney, who took home the bronze in the event. The defending gold medalist couldn't hold off Canadian sisters Justine (gold) and Chloe (silver) Dufour-Lapointe, but still managed to secure a bronze.
To nobody's surprise, the Dutch began their dominance in long-track speed skating by sweeping the men's 5,000m race. Defending gold medalist medalist Sven Kramer took first again (and set a world record along the way), and could potentially earn two more golds in Sochi before he's done.
Jan Blokhuijsen won silver, while Jorrit Bergsma took home the bronze.
How much do the Dutch love their speed skating? Consider the following, passed along by Bleacher Report's Dan Levy:
Is speedskating bigger than soccer in Netherlands? Dan Jansen said speedskater Sven Kramer is "by far" the biggest celebrity in the country.— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) February 8, 2014
No, the sport probably isn't quite bigger than soccer. But the Dutch certainly take pride in their dominance in the long-track.
Meanwhile, Norway had itself a solid first day, as Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won the men's biathlete event, while Marit Bjoergen took gold in the women's skiathlon and Heidi Weng took the bronze.
For the full Olympic schedule, be sure to check out Sochi2014.com.