Day 4 of the Sochi Olympics was roller coaster ride of emotions as some legends fell to the new and others successfully pushed themselves further into glory.
What a day of ups and downs for the hard working and talented athletes and the cheering crowds!
First off, the news that everyone is buzzing about. American snowboarding icon and Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010 gold medalist Shaun White placed 4th in the Men's Halfpipe. It is the end of an era, as the king of snowboarding hands the crown over to long time friend and fiercest rival, Iouri Podladtchikov aka "I-Pod" of Switzerland! Four years ago in Vancouver 2010, Iouri Podladtchikov was left in 4th, staring at Shaun White on the podium. Now, the tables have turned and it is White who now stands in 4th and looks at the changing tide and the new wave of young and up and coming stars.
Born in Russia and raised in Switzerland, Podladtchikov, 25, stunned the world when he debuted his signature move, the impossible and amazing YOLO (named after the saying You Only Live Once) at the X Games last year. The YOLO is a combination of 2 flips and four rotations, and the only other person to successfully land the YOLO is Shaun White. And while White, 27, attempted the YOLO, he fell in his run and he did not have the clean and explosive performance of I-Pod, who landed the YOLO solidly to the cheers of the crowd.
Even more impressive was 15 year old Ayumu Hirano of Japan, who put in a stellar rockstar performance that launched him to the stratosphere and right into silver!
Over in women's freestyle skiing slopestyle, 19 year old Canadian Dara Howell stands (and skis and jumps) to deliver Canada's 4th gold at Sochi! And she did it by being one of the few skiers to keep upright during her fantastic runs in the course, jumping over obstacles and performing some of the toughest moves and landing them cleanly. American Devin Logan, 20, earned the silver while Kim Lamarre, 25, picks up the bronze for Canada, adding to the country's medal haul.
At the women's 10km pursuit, Darya Domracheva of Belarus out skied the competition and shot her way to gold. She won a bronze back in Vancouver in the 15km event. She crossed the finish line far ahead of silver medalist, Tora Berger of Norway, adding another medal to the impressive Norwegian haul. These Vikings are pillaging and plundering medals like monastery treasure in the days of old! Teja Gregorin of Slovenia claims the bronze.
And the Viking pillaging continues in the dramatic men's cross country skiing event, where a spectacular collison took out half the field, leaving Ola Vigen Hattestad of Norway to beat out Teodor Peterson of Sweden by 1.22 seconds for the gold. Norway's Anders Gloeersen, Russian skier Sergey Ustiugov and Marcus Hellner of Sweden crashed while going around a steep right hand bend. Sweden's Emil Joensson, who was far behind in the race, benefited from the collision of the top skiers to pull ahead and claim the bronze. Joensson was struggling in last place at the start of the race, having used up his energy in the qualifying run and struggling with an aching back. Joensson, who clearly gave it his all, was so exhausted that he collapsed after crossing the finish line and was helped to his feet by medical personnel.
|Quick! Check his pockets for valuables!|
And the Norwegians continue their medal domination with the women's cross country skiing event. Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla rises above her more famous and heavily favored teammates, Marit Bjoergen and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, and ends the race first to take gold. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg edges out Vesna Fabjan of Slovenia for the silver. Fabjan takes the bronze.
While the Norwegians continue their conquest of the cross country skiing events, the Germans maintain their hold in the luge, as Natalie Geisenberger delivers Germany's fifth consecutive gold in women's individual luge competition. Tatjana Huefner adds silver to the German medal count. And Erin Hamlin makes American history with a bronze medal, the first time an American luger has won a medal in the singles luge event.
And the Germans continue their collection of Olympic medals in the debut of women's ski jumping, with Carina Vogt taking the first ever gold awarded in the sport. Making history, openly gay and married to her partner, Austria's Daniela Iraschko-Stolz flies to silver. And Coline Mattel of France takes the bronze in the first ever women's ski jump at the Olympics. Well done, ladies! Well done!
And speaking of history making women, South Korea's Sang Hwa Lee joins the ranks of legendary speed skaters American Bonnie Blair and Canadian Catriona Le May Doan as the 3rd woman in Olympic history to capture the gold medal in the 500m sprint in back to back Olympics. And she did it by by setting a new Olympic record! Sang Hwa Lee successfully defends her Olympic title and becomes a legend in the sport!
What an amazing performance from the athletes in a day full of surprises and spectacular ups and downs. It's exciting to see great athletes reach their goals and it's even more amazing to see new ones come out from behind and make it to the top. I can't wait to see who else will soar to new heights and who will find that it's time to come down, to give way to the new.