After a memorable opening ceremony Friday, the first five medals of the 2014 Winter Olympics were awarded on Day 1. It was a day that featured everything from surprising results from relative unknowns to dominant showings from established stars.
What the results from the first full day of action illustrate is that anything can happen under the international spotlight. One slip, one mistake or one mental error is all it takes for a favorite to get upset by a talented field of opponents. That's what makes the Games exciting.
With that in mind, let's check out all five of the events that handed out medals on Day 1 and highlight the athletes who found their way to the podium. Eight more medals are scheduled to get handed out Sunday as the 22nd Winter Olympics continue in Sochi.
Men's Slopestyle (Snowboard)
If somebody had said a couple weeks ago that an American snowboarder won the inaugural Olympic slopestyle event, the general assumption would have been that it was Shaun White. Instead, he dropped out of the competition and it allowed Sage Kotsenburg to shine.
CNN's Rachel Nichols has more on Kotsenburg:
An underdog coming into the event, the Idaho native seemed to even surprise himself. After he qualified for the finals, he sent out a tweet showing his enthusiasm about just reaching that stage. Going on to win was huge for both himself and the United States.
Whoa how random is this I made finals at the Olympics!!!— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) February 8, 2014
Mark McMorris of Canada was the favorite heading into the final, but he was only able to secure bronze. Even though he still made it onto the podium, Rachel Axon of USA Today passed along comments from the snowboarder, who was clearly unsure how the scoring played out like it did:
You can't prepare for the judging cause you have no clue, right. And every event I've ever done, if you're doing triple corks, you're usually on the podium if everything else is really good. I thought, "OK, perfect, I'll do two triple corks." What can you do? I was really glad with the way I rode, and I guess two triple corks weren't the hammer today.
The judging factor is one that always looms large, especially in the Olympics. McMorris clearly believed he delivered the right, run but those making the final call didn't see it that way. The lackluster finish by his standards let Kotsenburg and Norway's Staale Sandbech grab the top two spots.
Women's 15K Skiathlon (Cross-Country Skiing)
The skiathlon featured a true race to the finish. There was basically one mad dash for gold and another for bronze.
By the latter stages of the event, Marit Bjoergen of Norway and Sweden's Charlotte Kalla had pulled away from the pack.
In the end, Kalla just didn't have the final push necessary to get by the decorated veteran Norwegian. Bjoergen's gold marked the eighth medal of her Olympic career. Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports notes that she could be on her way to several more in Sochi:
Marit Bjoergen (NOR) wins first of what could be record six medals at single Winter Games. Gold in XC skiathlon.— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) February 8, 2014
Just over 10 seconds later, there was a three-way battle for the final podium spot. The Norway tandem of Heidi Weng and Therese Johaug and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen of Finland were separated by just a couple of seconds as they entered the home stretch.
It was Weng who was finally able to establish and hold her edge to finish third. The top American finisher was Jessica Diggins in eighth place.
Men's 5,000 Meters (Speedskating)
Four years ago, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands established a new Olympic record in the 5,000 meters and won by a margin of more than two seconds. He was even more dominant this time around, as he crushed the competition with amazing ease.
The Dutch superstar broke his previous record by nearly four seconds and beat the rest of the field by nearly five seconds. All of his laps checked in under 30 seconds. It was an awe-inspiring, unmatched performance, as Fox Sports pointed out:
Sven Kramer of Netherlands sets an Olympic record (6:10.76) to defend title in men's 5000m winning GOLD #Sochi2014— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) February 8, 2014
Kramer was joined on the podium by a pair of countrymen. Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma were well off the winning pace, but on a day where one skater was so much better than the rest, that didn't matter. They still won medals.
Bart Swings of Germany came the closest to breaking up the Netherlands sweep, missing the top three by just over a second. Emery Lehman was the top skater from the U.S., finishing 16th.
Men's 10K Sprint (Biathlon)
|Gold||Ole Einar Bjoerndalen||NOR||24:33.5|
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won his first Olympic medal all the way back in 1998. Amazingly, 16 years later at the age of 40, he's still got way it takes to win gold on the big stage. That's exactly what he did Saturday in the men's sprint.
The Norwegian certainly didn't have the look of an athlete ready to start slowing down anytime soon. He was seemingly on cruise control, winning the event for the first time. NBC Olympics also noted that it tied him for the most Winter Games medals in history with 12:
A lot of time is spent trying to find the next great Olympic star instead of recognizing the accomplishments of longtime stars like Bjoerndalen. By winning gold, he definitely doesn't have to worry about getting overlooked.
Dominik Landertinger of Austria and Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic rounded out the podium finishers. The top American was Tim Burke in 19th.
Women's Moguls (Freestyle Skiing)
What was your favorite medal event of Day 1?
Unsurprisingly, the moguls ended up becoming a three-woman race between two of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters from Canada and the United States' Hannah Kearney. Any other combination on the podium would have been a shock.
It was simply a competition to see which skier would grab gold. Justine Dufour-Lapointe was the first of the trio to go during the final round, and she set a very high bar. Neither her sister Chloe nor Kearney could match it with her last run.
The Canadian Olympic Team posted a picture of the medal ceremony:
Aiko Uemura of Japan, Britteny Cox of Australia and American Eliza Outtrim were the other finalists in the event. While all three posted solid scores, the top three competitors were clearly a step above the rest coming into the Games, and they lived up to the hype.
The result pushed Canada into a second-place tie with the Netherlands in the medal count after Day 1. Norway leads the way with four medals, including two gold, while the United States is in fourth.