The 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi started with a bang during the opening ceremony, and the competition has already started to heat up, with several dominant performances in key sports.
With American snowboarders Jamie Anderson and Sage Kotsenburg winning gold in the inaugural slopestyle events and Switzerland's Dario Cologna stealing the show in the men’s skiathlon, the steady flow of medals has begun.
The following stars dominated the early portion of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Updated Medal Count
Most Dominant Performers
Jamie Anderson, Snowboarding, Slopestyle
There was genuine excitement from both the men and women about the inaugural snowboarding slopestyle events during this year’s Winter Olympics, and American Jamie Anderson was ready to steal the show.
After winning gold in the women’s competition, Anderson lived up to the hype.
“I was really just trying to stay calm and kind of reserve my energy,” she told the Associated Press (via NBCOlympics.com). “It was a lot of stress up there and even though it's just another competition, the stage and the outreach that this event connects to is out of control.”
The 23-year-old snowboarder had been training hard for this event since it was announced that it would be added to the Olympics competition, and the work paid off with an almost perfect run that catapulted her to the top of the leaderboard.
The women’s portion of the classification was stacked with elite competitors looking to make a name for themselves in the new event, but no one was able to keep up with the high-flying nature of Anderson.
Dario Cologna, Cross-Country Skiing, Men's Skiathlon
Despite dealing with a nagging injury throughout the training process, Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna won the gold medal in the men's 30-kilometer skiathlon after holding off defending champion Marcus Hellner of Sweden in the final stretch.
CBC’s Scott Russell shared an image of the finish on Twitter:
Cologna finished with an impressive time of 1 hour, 8 minutes, 15.4 seconds—just 0.4 seconds better than Hellner’s time. This was Cologna's second gold medal in his career, but it will be made all the more worthwhile given the adversity he overcame to get this far.
After undergoing surgery in November to repair a damaged ligament in his ankle, per the Associated Press (via NBCOlympics.com), Cologna was forced to train in a much shorter time and only returned to competition last month.
While winning a gold medal is impressive enough, the trials and tribulations Cologna overcame to achieve his goal make his performance one of the most dominant of the 2014 Winter Olympics thus far.
Sage Kotsenburg, Snowboarding, Slopestyle
Many American snowboarding fans thought their hopes of winning gold in the men’s slopestyle event were shattered when veteran Shaun White was forced to pull out of the event, but 20-year-old Sage Kotsenburg stepped up to the plate.
Kotsenburg kicked off the competition with the first medal of the 2014 games and the first slopestyle gold medal in the history of the sport. Team USA’s dominance of the event has been on full display for both the men and the women.
When asked about his gold-medal performance, Kotsenburg didn’t try to hide his emotions or change how he acts for international competition, per Skyler Wilder of NBCOlympics.com:
It ended up working out in my favor because everyone was doing the same grabs and tricks today. I whipped out a holy crail (a trick he invented only weeks prior to the Games) on the cab 12 and a rocket air on the front 10, a layback slide (aka the Stoney Surfer, another trick he has pioneered) on the canon and a Japan 16 — I don’t think that trick has ever been done, I’ve never tried it before that run. It’s pretty sick!
While there were many Olympic traditionalists who didn’t want to see the action sports stars who made a name for themselves performing at the X Games infiltrate the Winter Games, Kotsenburg, Anderson and the rest of the slopestyle competitors proved the sport is here to stay.