Another day, another collection of great events, epic finishes and memorable stories at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. As Olympics go, this one has not disappointed.
There was an American sweep atop the podium. The Dutch continued to dominate in long-track speedskating, while the Germans topped off their luge dominance in style. And as always, there were surprise medalists to keep things interesting.
Let's look back at an excellent Day 6 in Sochi.
Martin Fourcade struck again.
After winning the 12.5-kilometer biathlon, Fourcade earned his second gold of these Games, topping Erik Lesser of Germany and Russia's Evgeniy Garanichev. He missed just one shot in his run.
Meanwhile, Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen missed a chance to surpass fellow Norwegian Bjorn Daehlie as the all-time leader in cross-country medals. Bjoerndalen tied Daehlie with 12 medals after winning the 10-kilometer sprint and still has several events left to secure the record.
Of course, Fourcade also has the opportunity to leave his mark as one of the more dominant athletes at the Sochi Games.
Nothing was going to stop Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk from winning gold in the women's 10-kilometer cross-country race. Not even a broken foot.
Per the Associated Press (via the Los Angeles Times), "Kowalczyk injured her left foot last month and posted a photo of an X-ray on her Facebook page this week showing a small fracture, but said it wouldn't stop her from competing."
Now that's dedication.
Meanwhile, Sweden's Charlotte Kalla was probably mumbling "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride" to herself after earning her second silver medal of these Games, this time finishing behind Kowalczyk. Kalla also earned a silver in the skiathlon.
It was an all-American affair in the men's slopestyle, as the United States swept the podium. Sweeps don't happen very often for the United States at the Winter Olympics, as ESPN Stats and Information notes:
USA swept the podium in men's ski slopestyle, the 3rd USA sweep in the Winter Olympics (Snowboard Halfpipe in '02 & Figure Skating in '56)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 13, 2014
That history is quite the accomplishment, but there's a different history here—the history of gold-medal winner Joss Christensen and the support of his ailing father, J.D, who died last summer—that will really pull at your heartstrings.
Toward the end, J.D. would try to follow his son Joss on the slopestyle skiing circuit, but he was weak. Doctors told him he would feel better if he lived at sea level, but he refused to leave Utah. Sometimes he didn’t have the energy to walk up a hill to watch his son. He walked anyway.
“I’d say: ‘What are you doing here?’” said Kerry Miller, Joss’s coach. “He’d say, ‘I’m not going to miss this.’”
So there was J.D., on the porch at his house in Park City, Utah, unable to go to the nearby mountain, watching Joss through binoculars instead.
You can only imagine how much the gold medal must have meant to Christensen.
Meanwhile, as Rachel Nichols tweeted, silver medalist Gus Kenworthy is halfway toward achieving all of his Olympic goals:
Slopestyle skier @GusKenworthy told his friend: "Dude, I just want to leave with a medal & some puppies." He's got a silver...halfway there— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 13, 2014
The second goal will probably be a whole lot easier to accomplish in Sochi than the former.
The German team of Tobias Arlt, Natalie Geisenberger, Felix Loch and Tobias Wendl earned gold in the team relay competition, to the surprise of absolutely no one when you consider that Geisenberger and Loch won gold in the singles luge competitions and Arlt and Wendl combined to earn gold in the men's doubles competition.
Much talk has been made of the Netherlands' dominance in long-track speedskating, but the Germans have earned all four available gold medals in luge events and five of the 12 total medals in the sport.
Speaking of the Netherlands, the country earned its 11th and 12th medals of these Games in the women's long-track 1,000-meter race—and yes, every single Dutch medal has come in speedskating—but neither Irene Wust nor Margot Boer could overcome China's Hong Zhang.
It was a dominant performance, and one that made a bit of history in the process, according to the Associated Press (via The Washington Post):
While Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were the latest US heavyweights to flame out, Zhang gave China its first speedskating gold medal ever with a stunning victory in the women’s 1,000 meters Thursday.
The winning time of 1 minutes, 14.02 seconds was nearly seven-10ths faster than anyone else—a huge margin in this event.
‘‘I saw the time pop up and was thinking ‘This is amazingly fast,’ ’’ said silver medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands. ‘‘I had never done a 1:15 at sea level.’’
Zhang, who had not done much on the World Cup circuit this season, skated in the seventh of 18 pairs based on her middling results. But her time broke the track record and just missed the Olympic mark set by Chris Witty at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Per that report, Zhang's margin of victory was greater than the last four Olympic races combined. Now that's fast.
The Dutch may own the long-track speedskating events, but they didn't factor into the women's short-track 500-meter race, as China's Jianrou Li earned another gold medal on the ice for her country.
Li was a bit lucky, as every other participant in the final fell at some point in the race. But she kept China's grip on the event strong, as the country has now won gold in this race in four straight Olympics (Wang Meng, who missed these Games due to a broken ankle, won the previous three).
The crash was caused by Great Britain's Elise Christie, who veered into silver medalist Arianna Fontana. The Italian described the crash to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
I saw Elise come in and thought I'd stop her, but she kept going. This is short track, so that's what happens. When I was falling I was so sad, then I saw the Korean girl fell and I thought I could still get something so I got up as quickly as I could. I got my silver medal, but for me it's gold.
It was a disappointing day for the South Koreans, even despite Seung-Hi Park's bronze medal, as the men's 5,000-meter relay team was relegated to the B final after Ho-Suk Lee caused a crash with American Eddy Alvarez.
The United States was advanced to the A final.