Shaun White was the biggest story of Day 4 in Sochi, Russia for all the wrong reasons, but the true spotlight must be placed on those who won a podium spot.
Norway was the biggest beneficiary of the day as two gold medals propelled the country past Canada. A total of 24 medals were dished out on the day, and, as it stands now, Norway has a total lead by two in the hardware department.
Familiar faces have continually lined the top of the standings in the Games' infancy, but a wide gap remains between Day 5 and the end of the Games. That said, if Day 4 is any indication, the same old countries will continue to dominate in Sochi.
|Biathlon||Women's 10km Pursuit||Darya Domracheva (BLR)||Tora Berger (NOR)||Teja Gregorin (SLO)|
|Cross Country||Ladies' Sprint Free||Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR)||Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR)||Vesna Fabjan (SLO)|
|Cross Country||Men's Sprint Free||Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR)||Teodor Peterson (SWE)||Emil Joensson (SWE)|
|Freestyle Skiing||Ladies' Ski Slopestyle||Dara Howell (CAN)||Devin Logan (USA)||Kim Lamarre (CAN)|
|Luge||Women's Singles||Natalie Geisenberger (GER)||Tatjana Huefner (GER)||Erin Hamlin (USA)|
|Ski Jumping||Women's Normal Hill||Carina Vogt (GER)||Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (AUS)||Coline Mattel (FRA)|
|Snowboarding||Men's Halfpipe||Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)||Ayumu Hirano (JAP)||Taku Hiraoka (JAP)|
|Speedskating||Ladies' 500m||Sang Hwa Lee (KOR)||Olga Fatkulina (RUS)||Margot Boer (NED)|
The Darya Domracheva Show
The end result of the women's 10-kilomerter pursuit was rarely in question.
While none of the participants should be discredited for what was an overall strong showing in one of the Games' most unique events, Belarusian star Darya Domracheva blew away the entire field.
Domracheva had just one penalty and a total time of 29:30.7, more than 37 seconds better than the nearest competitor. As real biathlon points out, Domracheva was seemingly as close to perfect as one can get:
Near-perfect race for Domracheva: 95% hit rate, best ski time, best isolated pursuit time, highest bib No for a Olympic pursuit winner (m/w)— real biathlon (@realbiathlon) February 11, 2014
Not only was this a jaw-dropping performance, Domracheva also etched her name in Winter Olympic history, as Infostrada Sports details:
#Sochi2014 Darya Domracheva (BLR) is the second Winter Olympic gold medal winner from Belarus and the first woman at that.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaGold) February 11, 2014
Domracheva understood before the race what it meant to her country, via a quote obtained by the Associated Press, by way of ESPN:
I was really calm and confident before the race. I was the hope of my country. I didn't read the papers but I felt that everyone had hopes on me. I felt their nerves. But I just tried to be myself and rely on myself as I have a lot of experience.
The Halfpipe Upset
White took a backseat in the halfpipe on Day 4. He was widely expected to win, especially considering he even dropped out of slopestyle to focus on the event.
Japan's Ayumu Hirano, despite being 15 years old, was the other major name to watch as a skilled competitor who had the ability to knock White off his throne.
At the end of the day, the man to do so was unexpectedly Switzerland's Iouri "IPod" Podladtchikov, who stood on the podium with gold medal in hand after an amazing double cork 1440 and best score of 94.75—a full 1.25 points better than Hirano, who took silver.
The win for Podladtchikov is especially interesting when one takes into consideration his track record against White, as ESPN points out:
Iouri Podladtchikov, winner of men's halfpipe event, had previously never won a competition in which Shaun White also competed. #Sochi2014— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 11, 2014
While White will get the headlines for finally succumbing to the pressure of being on top of the mountain, the credit must go to Podladtchikov for an absolutely superb performance.
Norway's Utter Dominance
Norway was able to climb the standings with ease after its competitors swept gold medals in the cross-country skiing free sprints.
In perhaps the most insane race of these Games, Ola Vigen Hattestad emerged as the winner in the men's event after a major crash took out three of the six participants. Hattestad's 3:38.39 mark was enough to get past silver medalist Teodor Peterson and bronze medalist Emil Joensson, both of Sweden.
Believe it or not, Norway almost had another medal, as Anders Gloeersen came in fourth.
The women's event was certainly not as crazy, but Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg were able to slip past the field for gold and silver, respectively.
A country teaming up to dominate podiums in a single event is certainly not unheard of, but it is uncommon enough to be noteworthy, an event no one should miss and something that will be remembered for years to come.