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February 08, 2014

US Takes First Sochi Gold; Norway Makes History

by Mike Richman

An aging skier made history on the first day of team competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen Saturday became the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist in an individual sport. The 40-year-old man finished first in the biathlon 10-kilometer sprint, beating the age record held by Canadian skeleton racer Duff Gibson.

Gibson was 39 when he won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Bjoerndalen also matched compatriot Bjoern Daehlie for the most medals at the Winter Games with 12.

Speedskater Sven Kramer of the Netherlands also had a memorable day, defending his title in the men’s 5,000 meters, winning gold with an Olympic record time of 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds.

Norway won two of the five gold medals at stake Saturday. In addition to Bjoerndalen, Marit Bjoergen finished first in the women's cross-country 15-kilometer skiathlon.

Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe won gold in women's moguls freestyle skiing.
Snowboard slopestyle debuts

The United States captured the first gold medal of the Sochi Games. Sage Kotsenburg mastered a perilous course to win the inaugural men's snowboard slopestyle event.

Snowboard slopestyle is one of several sports added this year to the Winter Olympics in hopes of increasing the amount of younger people who follow the Games.

The 20-year-old Kotsenburg said his accomplishment felt like a "dream."

"Just winning a gold on the first day and the first event of slopestyle ever being in the Olympics is seriously the craziest thing ever," Kotsenburg said. "I didn't really like think it would happen because it was just like too much to take in at once. But I'm really ... so stoked to be here and just like representing the USA for sure. And being part of the first slopestyle team for the U.S. is pretty cool, and then bringing home the gold is just icing on the cake."

In figure skating Saturday, 15-year-old Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya positioned herself to become the darling of the Sochi Games with a great routine in the team event. Her score of 72.90 was the highest among individual women skaters.   

In women's ice hockey, Canada began its bid for a fourth straight Olympic gold medal with a 5-0 win over Switzerland. The Canadians overwhelmed the Swiss from the opening faceoff and outshot their opponents, 69-14.

The other consensus favorite to win the gold medal, the United States, beat Finland, 3-1.

Sunday's competition includes Alpine skiing's premier event, the men's downhill, which takes place on the challenging Rosa Khutor course. Men's cross-country 30-kilometer skiing and women's 3,000-meter speedskating are also on the schedule. There are 98 medal events at the Sochi Games, 12 more than in Vancouver four years ago.

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