There was the greatest free skate in Olympics history. A slew of surprise winners. A couple of former winners too. Athletes who lived up to expectations. Athletes who didn't quite have it Friday.
Yes, Day 7 of the Sochi Games had a little bit of everything. Below, we'll review all of the events that handed out medals Friday and the various storylines that accompanied those triumphs.
|Men's Super Combined Slalom|
Bode Miller and Ted Ligety were expected to have a major say in the super combined slalom. After all, Miller was the defending gold-medal winner in this event, while Ligety was the defending world champion. Instead, neither reached the podium, as Switzerland's Sandro Viletta surprised everyone and earned the gold.
Even Viletta was a bit surprised afterward, telling David Leon Moore of USA Today, "It's a moment I cannot believe. I knew after the downhill the slalom specialists were less than a second behind me. I knew I had to risk all. The slalom was just a perfect run for me."
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia took silver, his fourth silver medal in his Olympic career.
|Women's Biathlon 15-Kilometer Individual|
Make it two gold medals for Darya Domracheva.
The Belarusian missed one shot en route to winning the 15-kilometer race, her second gold of these Olympics (and third medal in her Olympic career) after winning the 12.5-kilometer pursuit. Fellow Belarusian Nadezhda Skardino earned the bronze.
Pre-race favorite Tora Berger of Norway finished a disappointing 16th.
|Men's Cross-Country 15-Kilometer Classic|
Much like Domracheva, Dario Cologna of Switzerland won his second gold medal of the Sochi Games, winning gold comfortably in the 15-kilometer race despite starting with a 30-second deficit to Sweden's Johan Olsson, who won the silver.
Another Swede, Daniel Richardsson, took the bronze.
Cologna defended his 15-kilometer gold from four years ago in Vancouver while also adding to his medal tally in Sochi (he also won the skiathlon). He shared in his triumph with his followers on Twitter:
That has to be the most satisfying tweet anyone could send.
|Men's Indvidual Figure Skating|
In the end, a mountain separated the top two contenders from the field, but less stood between gold-medal winner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Patrick Chang of Canada. Both were attempting to be the first men to ever win the gold for their country.
But where Chang faltered, Hanyu thrived. Much as he had done in the short program, Hanyu finished with the top score in the free skate. As you might imagine, he was justifiably thrilled. From NBC Olympics:
Hanyu didn't just win gold, he made history, according to Jere Longman of the New York Times. He was the first Japanese man to ever win a gold medal in figure skating. His score of 101.45 points set a world record. Oh, and he's still a teenager.
Expect Hanyu to dominate in 2018. Heck, he might be on the podium in 2022 as well.
It was a good day for Belarus, indeed, as Belarusian Alla Tsuper won a gold medal in her fifth Olympic Games, triumphing in the aerials competition.
Here's Tsuper in flight, via Stuart Fraser of the Daily Mail:
Both Tsuper and silver medalist Xu Mengtao of China were perhaps surprise entries to the podium in this event, as defending Olympic champion Lydia Lassila of Australia (who finished with the bronze) and two-time gold medalist Li Nina of China were in the competition.
Finally, Great Britain has a gold medal in Sochi, courtesy of Lizzy Yarnold in the skeleton. It was just Great Britain's 10th gold medal in the history of the Winter Olympics.
Afterward, Yarnold showed off a bit of Russian, telling Jonathan McEvoy of the Daily Mail, "I was bold enough to learn a Russian term, which is 'I'm a champion.' It's an inexplicable feeling right know. I'm sure it won't sink in for a few days."
Meanwhile, Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States took the silver. It was an emotional moment for Pikus-Pace, as she expressed to
"With my family here, and the love and support, it's beyond words," said Pikus-Pace, who said she had concussion-like symptoms after hitting her head during an unofficial training run last week.
Life's emotions emptied. She thought it about what she went through and what it took to win a medal. The two children she had while trying to make Olympic teams. The bobsled that hit her as she stood on the end of track in Calgary in 2005, fracturing her right leg and ending her 2006 Torino Olympics dream. Missing bronze by one-tenth of a second at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A miscarriage.
"Many tears were shed," Pikus-Pace said. "If I hadn't gone through every single one of those things, I would not be here today, and this is right where I want to be."
Uncontrollable tears of joy ran her into her smile.
The Olympics stand for so many things, and perseverance is certainly one of them. It's impossible not to be thrilled for Pikus-Pace.