Sochi roundup, 2/7: Let the Games begin
Flag bearer. Todd Lodwick, the nordic combined athlete from Steamboat Springs, Colo., competing in his sixth Olympics at Sochi, carried the flag when Team USA entered Fisht Stadium, to thunderous applause, during Friday night’s opening ceremony. Despite a slightly dodgy left shoulder from a jumping crash a month ago, he was clearly up to the task.
Once in a lifetime. While downhillers were tempted to skip the opening ceremony because they’re in the midst of daily training runs and just a couple of days away from their gold medal races, many of the U.S. men’s and women’s downhill skiers were on hand for the event. “Going to the opening ceremonies is definitely like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said U.S. downhiller Travis Ganong after his training run on Friday. “It’s hard … but most of the downhillers (from other nations) are probably going to skip the opening ceremonies tonight. But for our team, I think the opening is a really special, unique event, and you can get energy and feed off the opening ceremonies. So I think we’re all going to go down there, and maybe get a little less sleep, but embody the Olympic spirit and hopefully build from that into the race day on Sunday.”
Coming up on Saturday:
Alpine. It’s downhill training day Number 3 for both the men and the women at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
Moguls. U.S. freestyle skier Hannah Kearney defends her gold medal in the women’s moguls at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Kearney, who won the women’s qualifying event on Thursday, faces steep competition from the Sisters Dufour-Lapointe from Canada. Quebec’s Chloe, Justine and Maxime all were among the top 10 qualifiers Thursday, as was U.S. skier Eliza Outtrim. U.S. skier Heather McPhie, who missed the top 10, could still make the semifinals today if she can work her way into the top 10 of the second qualifying round.
Ski jumping. The men’s normal hill qualifying jumps take place at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana.
Cross-country. The women’s skiathlon (with 7.5km of classical skiing and 7.5km of freestyle) is on tap at the Laura Cross-Country and Biathlon Center.
Snowboard. The semis and finals of slopestyle, one of the early hits of the Sochi Games with the audience back home on NBC, get under way Saturday morning in Rosa Khutor. Sage Kotsenburg, Ryan Stassel and Chas Guldemond will represent the U.S. in the semifinals. The top qualifiers in the preliminary round on Thursday were Canada’s Maxence Parrot, Finland’s Roope Tonteri, Sven Thorgren of Sweden, and Norway’s Gjermund Braaten, all of whom advanced straight to the finals. The first real controversy of the Games came when top contender Mark McMorris of Canada was denied a spot in the finals after a run that many felt was given an unfairly low score. But McMorris will be competing in the semis today.