The women's snowboarding parallel giant slalom provided a magnificent spectacle as Patrizia Kummer took the gold medal for Switzerland in a dramatic day's racing.
The silver medal went to the excellent Tomoka Takeuchi of Japan, with Russia's new star Alena Zavarzina coming in third and earning the bronze.
Here is the top 10 final rankings of the event:
|7||Ester Ledecka||Czech Republic|
The event had started earlier on Tuesday as Takeuchi of Japan had qualified fastest in a time of 1 minute, 46.33 seconds, per Sochi2014.com.
Swiss riders Kummer and Julie Zogg had posted the next-best times of 1:46.62 and 1:47.11 of the 16 athletes who advanced for the final stages.
The quarterfinals were hotly contested, but provided heartbreak for Caroline Calve of Canada, who crashed out in her race, eliminating her from the competition.
Home favourite Alena Zavarzina cruised home to make the semifinals, earning rapturous cheers from the watching crowd.
The semifinals saw Takeuchi pitted against Ina Meschik of Austria and Kummer drawn to battle the home-crowd darling Zavarzina.
There was some controversy as the two gates used to race were in differing conditions, with one side in visibly better condition than the other. But with each athlete having to encounter both gates—the race being over two runs—neither rider could have a discernible advantage.
Takeuchi crushed Meschik on the first run, winning the race by a whole second. In the second run, the Japanese snowboarder was allowed to cruise down to the bottom of the course as Meschik fell after pushing too hard, forcing the Austrian into the bronze-medal race.
Zavarzina edged her first semifinal run over Kummer by four-hundredths of a second after a very exciting battle. The second run was just as thrilling, but the crowd wailed in despair as the Russian athlete fell and gave the victory to the female from Switzerland.
The small final was then contested between Zavarzina and Meschik, and the pair did not disappoint. The lead alternated in an incredible first run, eventually being won by the Austrian by one one-hundredth of a second.
And then the second run went the way the crowd was clamouring for, as Zavarzina glided home beautifully down the course to claim the bronze for Russia. The watching thousands celebrated as if she had won the gold-medal race.
The big final between Takeuchi and Kummer was just as thrilling. Despite clipping her board on the opening gate, Takeuchi carved her way down the first run and spectacularly came from behind to win by three-tenths of a second, accelerating through the gears to rush past her rival at the end of the course.
The second run produced the shock of the day. Takeuchi, who had dominated the day's racing, dramatically fell, allowing Kummer to take an unlikely gold for the Swiss. The Japanese rider felt the pressure and, just as she was about to claim glory, she failed at the final hurdle. The silver medal was a strong consolation for her though.
BBC Sport tweeted confirming Kummer's success in the event:
Swiss sportswriter Rene Stauffer also commented about Kummer's victory for her country and how she showed her opponent no mercy as she fell:
No sorrow for (Patrizia) Kummer on the snowboard: gets 6th Gold for Switzerland in GS. Nevio Galmarini brings home silver in mens race— rene stauffer (@staffsky) February 19, 2014
Kummer has had a productive year and recently spoke of her success despite suffering from an ankle injury. The snowboarder said, per FIS:
I don't notice the pain while racing. When I race, I'm full on. I can't believe it, this season has been amazing, Of course I hope to tie on to this at Sochi but no matter what happens at the Olympics, my season has already been outstanding. However, I will give everything I have at the Olympics, then it will turn out well
The drama of Takeuchi's fall cannot overshadow the fantastic runs she put together in the competition, and she is now very much one of the elite riders in the sport.
At 30 years old, she is a late bloomer and has never shown form as good as this. She can now take this excellent performance forward with her and build towards finally winning a major event. Her silver was a great achievement in her fourth Olympic Games.
However, the story of the day was Russia's Zavarzina, who made it a double delight for the host nation. Her husband, Vic Wild, sped to the gold medal in the men's equivalent event just minutes after her bronze to make it a fantastic day in Sochi. She too can use this as a springboard to greater things, as she becomes one of the more famous names to emerge from these Games.