The medal standings were in a bit of a holding pattern after the completion of Day 6 at the 2014 Winter Games.
Six more gold medals were dished out, but overall not much changed.
China grabbed two golds, but Norway, the Netherlands and the U.S. remain tied with four apiece. Norway only grabbed one medal on the day, but retains its spot at the top in the infancy of the Games:
The podium for each event was as follows:
|Men's 20- kilometer Individual||Marin Fourcade (FRA)||Erik Lesser (GER)||Evgeniy Garanichev (RUS)|
|Ladies' 10-kilometer Classic||Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)||Charlotte Kalla (SWE)||Therese Johaug (NOR)|
|Men's Ski Slopestyle||Joss Christensen (USA)||Gus Kenworthy (USA)||Nicholas Goepper (USA)|
|Luge Team Relay||Germany||Russia||Latvia|
Team relays were the main story of the day, but the overall podium scene was highlighted by several notable performances that created momentum that countries can in turn use to further their placement in the standings.
U.S. Dominates the Slopes
Perhaps one of the biggest stories in the Games thus far was the absence of Shaun White from the podium in the halfpipe event.
Three of White's countrymen helped to make up for his disappointing run by ruling the podium on Day 6 in the men's ski slopestyle event.
Joss Christensen took first place with a best score of 95.80, and was followed by silver medalist Gus Kenworthy (93.60) and bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper (92.40). USA Today captured the sweep:
The most interesting point of note here is Christensen, who is arguably the most shocking medalist of the Games to date after a tumultuous road to Sochi that began with the death of his father, as Rick Maese of The Washington Post details:
That was last August. It marked the beginning of a difficult stretch for the talented 22-year-old freestyle skier, who mourned his father, then struggled to find the podium in competitions, barely managed to even make the Olympic team and on Thursday became perhaps the most unlikely American gold medalist to emerge from these Sochi Olympics.
Things have now come full circle for Christensen, who took to social media to celebrate the big win:
It was a historic day for the United States ski program overall, but for Christensen, the event takes on a more significant meaning and is one of the biggest stories to emerge from Sochi.
Martin Fourcade Scores Gold Again
It is hard to argue that any Olympian thus far is doing better than France's Martin Fourcade.
The 25-year-old star took home the gold in the men's 12.5-kilometer pursuit on Feb. 10, and followed three days later with a fresh new gold in the men's 20-kilmeter individual race.
Fourcade's time came in at 49:31.7 after he hit the penalty lap just once. It was a time more than 12 seconds better than second-place finisher Erik Lesser of Germany, and more than 34 seconds better than Evgeniy Garanichev, who came in third.
The win is business as usual for Fourcade, as he now has three Olympic medals total and holds five world titles. Despite the heavy publicity going to names such as Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Fourcade has stolen the spotlight.
There are three events to go for Fourcade as he continues to fend off the rest of the field, and another gold is not that hard to imagine given his current form.
Germany Rules the Luge
In a predictable turn of events, the inaugural luge team relay event went to the Germans.
Natalie Geisenberger was first out of the gate and posted the best time of the three German sleds, but Felix Loch and the duo of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt were not far behind.
In all, they combined for a total time of 2:45.649 to complete the German domination of the luge events, as Eurosport.com illustrates:
LUGE: The German dream team of Geisenberger, Loch and Wendl/Arlt win gold in the team relay event. That's 4/4 golds for Germany in the luge.— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) February 13, 2014
Not far off the Germans' scores was Russia for silver and Latvia for bronze, but the focal point should only go to the Germans in a sport they traditionally dominate.
Of particular interest is the sixth-place finish for the U.S., which had a glimmer of hope for a podium appearance after being days removed from seeing Erin Hamlin win America's first gold medal in a single's luge event—ever.
Alas, the Germans were simply too strong for the rest of the field. Considering it is one of the country's integral sports, the inaugural event is likely a strong forecast as to how things will play out at future Games in the exciting new spectacle.