Free style skiing
Short Track skating
The Winter Olympics at Sochi were preceded by controversy over the costs, concerns over the threat of a terrorist attack and the impact of protests against Russian anti-gay legislation. However, Russia proved itself by organising and delivering
an impressive Olympics, showcasing competitive sport which is what the Olympics is all about. This guide highlights the best moments from Sochi 2014 with medal tables and descriptions of each event.
Ten events make up the Olympic alpine skiing programme, with five events each for men and women. These include the downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super giant, and super combined.
Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze made history in the women’s downhill skiing by becoming the first athletes ever to share Winter Olympics gold with a time of 41.57 seconds.
At the 1968 games Jean-Claude Killy won gold medals in all the downhill ski events.
Austria’s Matthias Mayer won men’s downhill gold beating favourites Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal.
Skis are made of various materials (wood or composite fibres) and are individually crafted for each athlete, Downhill skis are 30% longer than slalom skis which allows for additonal accuracy at high speeds.
Mikaela Shriffin became the youngest ever slalom winner at 18 years old. Austrian veteran Mario Matt caused a sensation by winning the men’s slalom and taking his first Olympic medal at the age of 34 in front of favourite Marcel Hirscher.
The biathlon originated in the ancient hunting practices of northern Europeans. It has been part of the Olympic programme since 1960.
40 year old Norwegian Ole Einer Bjoerndalen won two gold medals in Sochi in the 10km pursuit and mixed 2x6x2x7.5km relay, holding the Winter Olympic record outright with 14 gold medals after overtaking his compatriot, the cross country ski legend Bjoern Daehlie, who won 12 medals at Winter Olympics. Frenchman Martin Fourcade staked his claim to be one of the all-time great biathletes with gold in the men’s 20km. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won the first gold medal in the men’s mass start at the Olympic Games in Sochi. He finished with a result of 49 min. 29.1 sec. French skier Martin Fourcade achieved exactly the same time, and the winner was determined by a photo finish.
There are five events each for men and women: individual race, sprint, pursuit, mass start race and relay, and the mixed relay. The sports rifle must be carried on the athelte’s back using special straps with the barrel facing up. The racing suit helps maintain a stable body temperature and reduces wind resistance.
The Norwegians swept the podium with gold silver and bronze in the women’s 30km mass start free race, making Marit Bjoergen a six-time Olympic champion. Finland stunned their rivals to win gold in the men’s team cross country sprint, taking advantage of a fall by Germany on the final descent.
There are twelve cross-country skiing events in the Olympic programme: six men’s events and six ladies’ events, including individual races and mass start races, the skiathlon, relay, and individual and team sprints. The skiathlon is one of the most interesting events. Skiers race the first half of the event on classic technique skis, then exchange them for skating skis in the stadium and finish the event using the free technique. the timer doesn’t stop while the athletes change skis, just like Formula 1 pit stops.
Olympic freestyle skiing events include women’s and men’s: moguls, aerials, ski cross, ski halfpipe, and ski slopestyle. Ski halfpipe and slopestyle were added to the programme in 2011.
Spectacular three way photo finish in the quarter final of the men’s ski cross. Alex Bilodeau soaked up the pressure to deliver a sensational final run and defend his moguls title ahead of countryman and rising star Mikael Kinsburg. Joselone Santos made history as Brazil’s first freestyle skier. Competing in her fifth and final Olympic Games, veteran Alla Tsuper (Belarus) was able to cleanly land a back full, full, full jump to score 98.01 and take gold in the Sochi 2014 ladies aerials competition.
In moguls, the colour of the knee pads often contrasts with the ski suit in order to draw the judges’ attention to the skier’s skill and expertise. Men’s mogul skis are usually around 180cm long, and women’s skis 170cm. In aerials, a single length of ski is used, 160cm long. Ski cross uses the same skis as Super G.
Nordic Combined individual events have been part of the Olympic programme since the first games in 1924.
Norway took gold and silver in the large hill nordic combined at the Games, dealing best with rainy conditions in the 10km ski phase. Norway won the Nordic Combined team event. Germany was leading after the ski jump, but Norway pipped them to the post in the 4x5km ski relay by 0.3 seconds with a total time of 47 minutes, 13.5 seconds.
Nordic Combined is the only Olympic discipline to just include men. It invlves a ski jumping competition (1 jump) and a 10km crosscountry ski race. There are three evnts n the Olympic programme: the individual event with a normal hill ski jump, the individual event with a large hill ski jump, and the team event with two jumps from the large hill for each team member and a 4x5km relay.
Carina Vogt made history by winning the first women’s ski jump title. Kamil Stoch (Poland) mastered tough wind conditions to win the large hill competition and earn his second gold medal of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Germany ended Austria’s dominance in the ski jumping team event, taking gold in a down-to-the-wire Olympic competition, ending Austria’s nine-year dominance at Olympics and world championships, where the alpine country has won eight straight titles.
Women were included in the Olympic ski jump programme with the individual normal hill at Sochi 2014. Four events are in the Olympic programme: men’s and women’s individual normal hill, men’s individual large hill, and the men’s team. In the normal and large hill competitions, athletes make two jumps and only the athletes with the best results from te first jump get through to the second. Special high backed boots are used to allow the skier to lean far forward during flight.
Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov beat favourite Shaun White of the USA to halfpipe title. Jenny Jones won Great Britain’s first medal on snow in snowboard slopestyle.
There are ten snowboarding events in the Olympic Games: men’s and women’s events in halfpipe, parallel giant slalom, snowboard cross, slopestyle and parallel slalom. Slopestyle and parallel slalom are new events in Sochi 2014. Different boards are used for different events. Flexible boards are used in halfpipe and slopestyle, allowing the snowboarder to keep his balance and perform acrobatic tricks. The slalom board is stiff and narrow which is ideal for sharp turns and high speeds.
Luge involves sliding at high speeds on single or two person sleds down an artificialy frozen track. The athlete(s) start in a seating position, then push off and slide on their back(s). The rider steers by moving his centre of gravity.
Felix Loch of Germany won his second straight Olympic gold medal in men’s luge, easily defeating the world’s top sliders. The 24 year old joined Georg Heichl, his coach, and Italy’s Armin Zoeggler, who won the bronze, as the only athletes to repeat as Olympic titlists.
There are three classes of Olympic competition: men’s singles, women’s singles and doubles. For the first time in Sochi there is a relay competition. Men and women compete on the same track but women start further down the track than men.
Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain won her country’s only gold of the games, setting a track record in her final heat with a time of 57.91 seconds.
Skeleton involves a descent on a speciall track made with artifically frozen ice in a sled. Medals in the Olympic competition are awarded based on the total time over four runs. There are singles’ competitions for men and women in the Olympic Games. The sled has steel runners and a weighted frame, in which the athlete lays face down and head first, controlling the sled using spikes on their shoes. Skeleton is run on the same track as Luge and Bobsleigh.
Bobsleigh involves high speed mountain descent on artificially made ice tracks on controlled sledges. There are three olympic events: two man, four man and two woman.
Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse edged the US two woman bob team by a tenth of a second to retain their Olympic title that they won in Vancouver 2010.
The Olympic competition consists of four runs held over a two day period. Medals are awarded based on the total time over the four runs with the winner having the lowest overall time. The name for the event orginates from the first competitors’ technique of bobbing back and forth inside the sled to increase its speed.
Figure skating was first contested in the simmer Olympic Games in 1908 until it was introduced in the 1924 Winter Games.
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan gained a world record in the men’s short programme with a score of 101.45, then won gold in the men’s free skating, becoming the youngest winner for 66 years. He set another record by becoming the first Japanese man to win gold in Olympic figure skating. Yulia Lipnitskaya was an impressive newcomer at 15 years old, leading Russia to team gold. Two-time world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White claimed a first Olympic figure skating ice dancing gold for the United States with new world record scores.
5 sets of medals are contested in the Olympic figure skating programme. The events are single skating, mixed pairs, ice dancing and team events. Custom made boots made of thick leather with extra laces and wide tongues providing the ankel with flexibitlity and support are used.
Speed skaters travel a defined distance as fast as possible on a track 400 metres long.
The Netherlands dominated speed skating, winning the most medals by one country in a single discipline. The men’s 500m was particularly impressive, with the Netherlands winning gold silver and bronze. Dutch athlete Jorien ter Mors smashed the Olympic record to take women’s 1,500m gold. Dutch speed skater Jorrit Bergsma took gold in the men’s 10,000m to seal the Netherlands’ fourth podium sweep at the Sochi Olympics.
In the individual events, skaters race on separate tracks and switch lanes every lap to skate an equal distance. In the team races, the men skate 8 laps and the women skate 6. There are two teams of three with one leader and the other two falling behind. The race ends when the last skater crosses the line. Speed skaters use clap skates with a blade that isn’t attached to the boot to ensure longer contact with the ice to improve thrust.
Short track speed skating became an official part of the Olympics in 1992. Athletes compete to cover a 111.12 metre oval ice track as quickly as possible.
South Korean born Russian Victor Ahn became the first athlete to win gold in all four short track events in Olympic Winter Games history: men’s 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 5000m relay. South Korea’s Park Seung-Hi won the women’s 1,000m short-track speed skating title making it her third medal and second gold of the Sochi Olympics.
Short track skaters compete on an elimination basis. Following the group start, skaters use various tactics to be the first to the finish line. The winner is the first to cross the line, and time is not a deciding factor. Short track skates are higher than traditional racing skates with the blades 40-46cm long and extremely sharp.
Dominant Canada won their third successive Olympic men’s curling gold medal with a convincing 9-3 victory over Great Britain in the final. The Canadian women’s team also won gold, making it the first time that one country had swept both titles at the same games. Great Britain’s men and women proved themsleves in curling, winning a silver and a bronze.
Two teams of four play against each other in the game of Curling. The game is played on ice and members of both teams deliver a 19.96kg stone towards a circluar target area called a ‘house’. The aim is to get the stone closer to the centre of the house than any stone of the opposition. Curling stones are traditionally produced in Scotland and made of rare and dense granite. The Kilsyth Players Association located in northern Scotland was founded in 1716 and claims to be the oldest curling club in the world.
Russia was shocked when its men’s ice hockey team were knocked out in the quarter finals.
In Ice Hockey, there are two teams of six whose objective is to hit the puck into the opponent’s goal using sticks. The winning team is the one that hits more pucks into their opponent’s goal. In the Olympic Games, there are separate ice hockey competitions for men and women, with two sets of medals contested. A puck made of vulcanised rubber is used which is usually black. Before top level matches, the puck is frozen in order to reduce friction on the ice surface which increases its speed.