2014 Winter Olympics

Sochi Winter Olympics: Day 7 Medal Predictions, Results

Joe MenzerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics: Day 7 Medal Predictions, Results

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    Elizabeth Yarnold brought joy to Great Britain by winning the skeleton.
    Elizabeth Yarnold brought joy to Great Britain by winning the skeleton.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    After wowing the crowd with his short program Thursday, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan finished what he started and won the gold medal in men's figure skating.

    However, it seemed like much of the air in the Iceberg Skating Palace had escaped the building by the time the competition had ended. Many had expected Hanyu and Canada's Patrick Chan to engage in a classic Olympic skating duel, but both men appeared to be avoiding mistakes instead of going for their biggest jumps.

    In the super combined Alpine event, Americans Bode Miller and Ted Ligety had medal aspirations, but they finished sixth and 12th, respectively, while Swiss skier Sandro Viletta came away with the gold.

    The highlight of the day for Team USA was the second-place finish by Noelle Pikus-Pace in the women's skeleton. Pikus-Pace took the lead in the event on the next-to-last run of the day, but Great Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold came through with a spectacular run and took home the gold medal.

Men's Alpine Skiing: Super Combined

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    Swiss skier Sandro Viletta won his country's first-ever gold in the super combined.
    Swiss skier Sandro Viletta won his country's first-ever gold in the super combined.Alessandro Trovati/Associated Press

    Sandro Viletta (pictured above) was the surprise winner of the men's super combined competition Friday afternoon at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, becoming the first-ever Swiss winner in a combined Alpine event.

    Sitting in 14th place after the downhill portion of the event earlier in the day, Viletta skied the slalom in 50.32 seconds, the second-best time of any competitor. His total time of 2:45.20 was 0.34 seconds ahead of Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, who also won silver in this event at both the 2010 and 2006 Games.

    Kostelic was in seventh after the downhill, but he lost all of his advantage over Viletta early on in the slalom. He did manage to hold off Italy's Christof Innerhofer, whose time of 2:45.67 gave him the bronze after he won the silver in the downhill event a few days earlier.

    Prior to Viletta, the top Swiss men's performance in an Olympic combined event came in 1948, when Karl Molitor earned the silver at St. Moritz, Switzerland.

    Defending Olympic combined champion Bode Miller of the United States was unable to overcome a rough downhill run, only moving up from 12th to sixth after the downhill. Fellow American Ted Ligety, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in the combined, finished in 12th place, one-tenth of a second behind U.S. skier Jared Goldberg.

     

    Gold: Sandro Viletta, Switzerland

    Silver: Ivica Kostelic, Croatia

    Bronze: Christof Innerhofer, Italy

     

    Pre-Event Predictions

    Ted Ligety, not his more famous American teammate Bode Miller, is the favorite to win the men's super combined gold medal in alpine skiing.

    But as with everything in Alpine skiing, Ligety is no lock. Miller is the defending Olympic champion in the super combined, and he's stinging from a disappointing eighth-place finish in the downhill competition earlier in the week. Ligety, who will be making his Sochi debut, finished first and second, respectively, in two World Cup super combined races last month.

    Ligety also won the gold in super combined in the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, when the event consisted of one downhill run and two slalom runs, which favored Ligety because he's a slalom specialist. Now the event consists of only single runs in both downhill and slalom.

    Alexis Pinturault of France and others may have something say about who takes the gold and the other medals as well, with much possibly depending on the luck of the draw. Miller told The Denver Post that going later in the draw works against skiers because warm weather conditions soften up the snow so much after others make their runs.

     

    Prediction

    Gold: Ted Ligety, United States

    Silver: Bode Miller, United States

    Bronze: Alexis Pinturault, France

Men's Cross-Country Skiing: 15-Kilometer Classic

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    Dario Cologna of Switzerland won his second gold medal in Sochi.
    Dario Cologna of Switzerland won his second gold medal in Sochi.Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

    Switzerland's Dario Cologna (pictured above) won his second gold medal of the Sochi Olympics and third all-time, taking the men's 15-kilometer classic cross-country skiing race Friday afternoon at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center.

    Cologna, who won the 30-kilometer skiathlon on Sunday, finished the course in a time of 38:29.7. That was 28.5 seconds ahead of silver medalist Johan Olsson of Sweden. The two crossed the finish line nearly at the same time, but the race involves skiers going out on the course one at a time in 30-second intervals, and they're ranked by overall time.

    The 27-year-old Cologna was tied for sixth after the first race interval, at 2.2 kilometers, and then moved up to second at the five-kilometer mark. By the time he hit eight kilometers, though, he was in the lead and never relinquished it. 

    Cologna won the 15-kilometer race in 2010 at Vancouver, though that event was done using the freestyle skiing stroke, while Friday's event used the classic style.

    The bronze medal went to Sweden's Daniel Richardsson, whose time of 39:08.5 was a mere two-tenths of a second ahead of Finland's Iivo Niskanen. Niskanen was the first of the contenders to cross the finish line, only to see three others finish faster and knock him off the medal stand.

     

    Gold: Dario Cologna, Switzerland

    Silver: Johan Olsson, Sweden

    Bronze: Daniel Richardsson, Sweden

     

    Pre-Event Predictions

    When Switzerland's Dario Cologna won the gold medal in the 15-kilometer freestyle at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, it was considered a major upset.

    Now he's a legitimate contender in every race he's entered, despite having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right ankle last November. Cologna already won a Sochi gold in the 30-kilometer skiathlon that combines freestyle and classical cross-country skiing.

    Cologna's strongest competition could come from Russia's Alexander Legkov, Kazakhstan's Alexey Poltoranin and Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who took the bronze medal in the 30-km skiathlon earlier in these Olympics. However, Marcus Hellner of Sweden finished second in that race and is more likely to contend.

    Early Olympics favorite Petter Northug of Norway appears to be hampered by an illness and has therefore been reduced to dark-horse contender at best.

     

    Prediction

    Gold: Dario Cologna, Switzerland

    Silver: Marcus Hellner, Sweden

    Bronze: Alexander Legkov, Russia

Women's Biathlon: 15-Kilometer Individual

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    Darya Domracheva picked up her second biathlon gold medal.
    Darya Domracheva picked up her second biathlon gold medal.Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

    It's been a brilliant Olympic performance for Darya Domracheva of Belarus in the biathlon.

    Domracheva (pictured above) won her second gold medal of the Sochi Games when she finished first in the 15-kilometer individual race. Domracheva finished with a time of 43:19.6, which included one penalty that added one minute to her final time.

    She beat out Selina Gasparin of Switzerland, who finished in 44:35.3 and was perfect in her shooting. Nadezhda Skardino, Domracheva's teammate, took home the bronze medal with a time of 44:57.8.

    Domracheva had previously won the gold medal in the 10-km pursuit event. She beat out Tora Berger of Norway in that race, and Berger was expected to provide stiff competition in the 15-km race. However, Berger incurred three penalties in her shooting and had to settle for 15th place.

    Hannah Dreissigacker finished 23rd and was the highest-ranking American shooter/skier. Susan Dunklee of Team USA finished 34th, while compatriots Sara Studebaker and Lanny Barnes placed 55th and 64th, respectively.

     

    Gold: Darya Domracheva, Belarus

    Silver: Selina Gasparin, Switzerland

    Bronze: Nadezhda Skardino, Belarus

     

    Update by Steve Silverman

     

    Pre-Event Predictions

    This could easily come down to another duel between Darya Domracheva of Belarus and Norway's Tora Berger.

    They battled each other in the 10-kilometer pursuit earlier in the Olympics, with Domracheva grabbing the gold and Berger, who is an Olympic legend in the sport, having to settle for silver. The defending gold medalist in this event, Berger would like nothing better than to reverse those results this time around.

    Among those who could contend for a medal is Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic.

    Russia's Olga Vilukhina, who won silver in the 7.5-kilometer sprint Sunday, has withdrawn from the event because of illness.

     

    Prediction

    Gold: Tora Berger, Norway

    Silver: Darya Domracheva, Belarus

    Bronze: Gabriela Soukalova, Czech Republic

Women's Skeleton

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    Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States earned the silver medal in the skeleton
    Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States earned the silver medal in the skeletonJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

    Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States (pictured above) set down the gauntlet in the women's skeleton, and Elizabeth Yarnold of Great Britain was more than capable of picking up the challenge.

    Yarnold had four stellar runs in winning the event with a cumulative time of 3:52.89. Yarnold finished nearly a full second ahead of Pikus-Pace, who clocked in at 3:53.86.

    Yarnold's victory was Great Britain's second consecutive gold medal in women's skeleton racing. Amy Williams won gold in Vancouver in 2010, but she's no longer competing due to injuries.

    This year's skeleton race figure to be a duel between Yarnold and Pikus-Pace, and the difference between the two was Yarnold's ability to get off to explosive starts at the top of the run.

    Russian Elena Nikitina earned the bronze medal, beating American Katie Uhlaender by four one-hundredths of a second.

    Pikus-Pace, the next-to-last competitor in the field, went into a raucous celebration when she completed her run and saw that she was the leading racer in the competition. She knew that Yarnold would likely finish with the gold, but Pikus-Pace knew she had earned a medal.

    Pikus-Pace overcame numerous injuries, and her trip to the podium means her return to her sport is complete.

     

    Gold: Elizabeth Yarnold, Great Britain

    Silver: Noelle Pikus-Pace, USA

    Bronze: Elena Nikitina, Russia

     

    Update by Steve Silverman

      

    Pre-Event Predictions

    After the first two qualifying runs for the women's skeleton, the United States appears in position to place a pair on the medal podium.

    Noelle Pikus-Pace (pictured above) is 44 one-hundredths of a seconds off the pace set by gold-medal favorite and current leader Elizabeth Yarnold of Great Britain and 11 one-hundredths ahead of Russia's Elena Nikitina in third.

    American Katie Uhlaender posted a much faster time than Nikitina in the second qualifying run, and her combined time of 1:57.58 is only 14 one-hundredths behind the combined time of Nikitina heading (1:57.44) into the final two runs that will determine who claims the medals and in which order.

     

    Prediction

    Gold: Elizabeth Yarnold, Great Britain

    Silver: Noelle Pikus-Pace, United States

    Bronze: Katie Uhlaender, United States

Women's Freestyle Skiing: Aerials

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    Alla Tsuper came away with the upset freestyle victory.
    Alla Tsuper came away with the upset freestyle victory.Andy Wong/Associated Press

    Alla Tsuper of Belarus was not supposed to bring home the gold medal in the women's aerials.

    Unfortunately for the rest of the field, she never got the memo.

    The 34-year-old Tsuper (pictured above) stomped her way to a score of 98.01 to take the gold medal over Xu Mengtao of China, who registered an 83.50 to take silver. Lydia Lassila, the defending Olympic champion from Australia, fell during the competition and had to settle for a score of 72.12. That gave her the bronze medal.

    Lassila was not the only freestyler to fall. Li Nina, the top-ranked freestyler in the world, fell and failed to make a medal stand.

    American skier Emily Cook also crashed and finished eighth. Teammate Ashley Caldwell had a strong qualifying round, but she finished in 10th.

     

    Gold: Alla Tsuper, Belarus

    Silver: Xu Mengtao, China

    Bronze: Lydia Lassila, Australia

     

    Update by Steve Silverman

     

    Pre-Event Predictions

    Xu Mengtao of China already has soared to the top of the world rankings in this discipline. Now she wants to add a gold medal to her trophy case.

    Mengtao's jaw-dropping triple flips have set her apart from the competition and are likely to do so again in Sochi, but she will be challenged by her Chinese teammate, Li Nina, and others such as Australia's Lydia Lassila, who is the defending Olympic champion.

    At the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, Mengtao, then just 19 years old, held a slim lead over the rest of the field after her first jump. But a fall upon landing on her second jump opened the gold-medal door for Lassila, and Mengtao fell to sixth.

    The Chinese skier is looking to make amends for that mishap and lay claim to her superiority as a specialist in freestyle aerials, which became an Olympics medal event in 1994 and often is spectacular to watch.

     

    Prediction

    Gold: Xu Mengtao, China

    Silver: Li Nina, China

    Bronze: Lydia Lassila, Australia

Men's Figure Skating: Free Skate

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    It ended not with a bang, but with a whisper.

    Figure skating fans were hoping to see a huge effort from leaders Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Patrick Chan of Canada with the gold medal on the line in the free skate. While neither skater made a mistake, neither competitor came up with the kind of explosive performance that seemed worthy of the Olympic championship.

    Despite some rather dull skating, Hanyu had a substantial lead and performed well enough to take home the gold medal. Hanyu, 19, scored a 178.64 during the free skate and 280.09 overall to finish on top. Chan was just a few percentage points behind Hanyu in the free skate with a mark of 178.10, but that left him at 275.62 with the silver medal.

    The big surprise of the free skate was Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who skated the kind of bold program that neither of the top two skaters could claim. Ten scored a 171.04 in the free skate, and he moved onto the podium with a score of 255.10 to earn the bronze medal.

    American skaters Jason Brown and Jeremy Abbott finished ninth and 12th, respectively.

     

    Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan

    Silver: Patrick Chan, Canada

    Bronze: Denis Ten, Kazakhstan

     

    Update by Steve Silverman

     

    Pre-Event Predictions 

    The biggest figure-skating story is not about who will win the gold medal, but who won't.

    Russia's Evgeni Plushenko had envisioned winning the gold in front of his countrymen, but he re-aggravated an old back injury during warm-ups on Thursday. Plushenko, 31, then announced he not only was withdrawing from the event, but retiring from the sport altogether. It was stunning news for the man who entered these Games with four previous Olympic medals, two golds and two silvers.

    Plushenko's withdrawal leaves this event wide open.

    Patrick Chan of Canada and 19-year-old sensation Yuzuru Hanyu now are expected to battle for the gold and silver. Chan is the three-time reigning world champion and might have rated as a slight favorite over Plushenko anyway, but Hanyu has the edge after breaking his own world record by scoring 101.45 to lead after Thursday's short program.

    The bronze appears up for grabs with only 3.5 points separating third through 11th place after Thursday. That includes Spain's Javier Fernandez in third and dark-horse contender Jason Brown of the United States. Brown is sixth after the short program but only 0.98 points behind Fernandez and well within striking distance.

     

    Prediction

    Gold: Patrick Chan, Canada

    Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan

    Bronze: Jason Brown, United States

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