In what is arguably the most dangerous event of Sochi 2014, the women's snowboard cross was won by the great Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic.
The 20-year-old sped home in front of her rival, Dominique Maltais of Canada, who claimed the silver medal for her country. The unfancied Chloe Trespeuch of France claimed an unlikely bronze as she crossed the line in an impressive third place.
Hera are the final rankings, as provided by Sochi2014.com:
|1||Eva Samkova||Czech Republic|
|9||Zoe Gillings||Great Britain|
|11||Nelly Moenne Loccoz||France|
The day had been littered with crashes and falls as is expected from this extreme winter sport.
As reported by Rachel Axon from USA Today, Jacqueline Hernandez suffered a concussion after a fall in the qualifying heats, ending her chances of making the finals in her first Olympic Games.
Thankfully it seems that serious injury was avoided, as John Branch from The New York Times tweeted that the athlete was in a healthy enough condition to watch the conclusion of the day:
Snowboard crosser Jacqueline Hernandez, who looked like she was knocked out in qualies, is watching semis. Not participating, but here.— John Branch (@JohnBranchNYT) February 16, 2014
The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) provided a statement from USA's Lindsey Jacobellis discussing Hernandez's injury situation:
It's always a big bummer when you see some of your friends go down and get injured and you never really know because you're kind of just sitting there. I try to zone out and focus on what I've got to do.
Samkova is the rising star of women's snowboarding and looks set to dominate the sport for many years to come. Her stock has been high in the run up to the Games as she is clearly the heir to the throne of such legendary figures as Jacobellis, who was unable to make the primary final herself but won the secondary event.
Shawn Smith of NBCOlympics.com provided an image of Samkova prior to her run and then followed with post-run reaction:
Eva Samkova getting her mustache drawn on before finals, as is her tradition. pic.twitter.com/ZHcb97Wq09— Shawn Smith (@theshawnsmith) February 16, 2014
At such a young age Samkova slides with such amazing maturity. It is hard to see who can challenge the young Czech superstar in the years to come. She is so far ahead of the field that it is easy to surmise that she will end her career as a multiple World and Olympic champion, if she can avoid the injuries that so many fall foul of in this dangerous arena.
The likes of Jacobellis will challenge again, but she was not destined for a medal today. She still has the flat speed and skill necessary to push hard for a podium place in future events, but with her action-packed style she is always vulnerable to a fall.
This sport is here to stay at the Winter Olympics, and it may just be the most exciting event at Sochi 2014.