France staged a terrific takeover of the men's ski cross podium on Thursday, claiming all three medals as their own following an exciting day's action at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Reigning world champion Jean Frederic Chapuis took home the gold, while Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol grabbed the silver and bronze medals, respectively, in what was a thrilling climax to one of Sochi's most eagerly awaited events.
Here's how the four finalists finished up in the men's ski cross crescendo:
|1||Jean Frederic Chapuis||FRA|
France dominated as soon as matters got serious in the ski cross, and despite not managing to record the most respectable of seeding times, it was only uphill from there.
As Kate Pettersen of CBC acknowledges, France made Winter Olympics history with their shutout:
France's medal sweep in men's SX is their 1st ever at Winter Olympics. Last French sweep was men's gymnastics at 1924 Olympics #CBCOlympics— Kate Pettersen (@KatePettersen_) February 20, 2014
Canada's Brady Leman was the only competitor who could break up that European grip on the finale, creating an intriguing disadvantage in terms of team allegiances for the final.
And it was too much for Leman to handle in the end, where it was clear from the beginning that France's bastions were intent on shutting the minority out by any means possible.
He detailed just how ready he was for this return to the Games, saying, “Winning a medal at the Olympics has been a dream since I was a little kid. I know that if I ski my best in Russia, my best is the best in the world right now.”
Midol and Chapuis managed to use any national companionship as a boon in both the quarter-final and semi-final stages, on each occasion managing to finish in the top two as they strode toward their berths in the final.
The journey didn't come without its share of bruises for those other hopefuls, however. The official Sochi Twitter account shows there was a unique, three-way photo finish in one of the quarter-final races, Egor Korotkov (far side) the man benefiting:
And while the Russian home favourite may not have managed to make it to the last stage, Sochi's onlookers were sent into applause when Korotkov dominated Thursday's small final, finishing in fifth overall.
The triple addition to France's medal tally puts them right back into Sochi contention, but with only a few days left in the Games, hope of triumphing in the medal table is running low.
It's a lack of gold medals in particular that's plaguing the country's aspirations, Chapuis' contribution being just their fourth of the Winter Olympics this year, some five behind Norway's tally of nine.
Nevertheless, the French will soak up the glory produced as a result of their utter demolition of a field that originally consisted of 32 competitors, but was reduced to nought in a matter of hours.