Early action on snow and ice on Thursday
Thursday sees the first sporting action take place in Sochi, including the early stages of competition in two exciting events that are making their full Olympic debut: team figure skating and snowboard slopestyle. While the world’s best skaters and boarders look to hit their marks, the top women’s freestyle skiers will be in action in the moguls qualifiers. Here is a brief lowdown on all of the day’s action.
Team figure skating (mixed)
Ten teams - Great Britain, Italy, Ukraine, Russia, the USA, Germany, China, France, Canada and Japan – will feature in the new and exciting team figure skating event, which gets underway at the Palace of Sports on 6 February, on the eve of the Opening Ceremony. The event, which features men and women individual competitions, as well as pairs and ice dance, takes place in two parts: short programme and free programme. Thursday sees the men and pairs complete their short programmes, with women and dance couples following suit on Saturday. The top five teams at the end of the short programmes will then progress to the free programme at the weekend, with the final podium places decided on Sunday evening.
Snowboard slopestyle (men and women)
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the race to be crowned the first Olympic slopestyle champion gets underway at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park – a spectacular setting for an equally spectacular new event on the Olympic programme. The world’s top men and women freestyle boarders will be in action in the qualifying competition from 10h00 local time. Making use of a combination of rails and jumps, and choosing their own lines, the boarders will be looking to impress a panel of six judges with the difficulty and creativity of their aerial skills, in a bid to secure their progress into the semi-finals. The men’s semis take place on Saturday 8 February, followed directly by the final. The semi-finals and final of the women’s event take place the following day.
Like the aerials, the moguls made their Olympic debut at Calgary 1988, bringing freestyle skiing to the programme for the first time. Since then freestyle has undergone a rapid expansion, and at Sochi 2014, will comprise no less than five different disciplines, with slopestyle and halfpipe added to the programme for the first time. At 18h00 on Thursday evening, the women will complete the qualification round under the floodlights at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Then on Saturday evening they face a second round of qualifiers, before the best skiers go head-to-head in the final.