It’s a family affair in Sochi
With Dutch speed skating twins, Austrian brothers in the luge doubles, a trio of Canadian freestyle skiing sisters, three more siblings from Switzerland among the seven sets of siblings in the biathlon events, not to mention a father-and-son combination in the ice hockey, family values are very much to the fore at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Not content with reaching the moguls final all together, the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine and Chloe, made off with gold and silver at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
It was Justine, the youngest of the three, who triumphed -- and she admitted she had been inspired by her siblings.
“I saw my sisters in the World Cup and I watched Chloe in Vancouver. I decided I wanted to train hard. I have always been a competitive tiger,” says the 19-year-old. “I take after my dad. It's how I grew up, so it's normal.”
Their proud father Yves says their success is partly down to strong “family values”, while mum Johane explains that sisterhood was always placed above the pressure to succeed.
“At times, one sister would be happy for her high result, but we would try not to make them feel better than the others.” she reveals.
“We consulted a psychologist. We wanted to treat all the girls equally. They are first and foremost sisters. Sometimes they fall out, but now they are mature enough to handle themselves."
And the sisters are not the only family threesome at the 2014 Winter Games.
The Republic of Korea's short-track skater Park Se-Yeong has been in action at the Iceberg Skating Palace alongside big sisters Park Seung-Hi, also a short-track skater, while over at the Adler Arena, their other sister Park Seung-Ju is competing in the speed skating.
Meanwhile, the Swiss Gasparin sisters - Selina, Elisa and Aita -- are among an incredible seven sibling combinations who are competing in biathlon.
Elsewhere, the Dutch Mulder twins, Michel and Ronald, took gold and bronze in the men's 500m speed skating event.
“Of course the perfect scenario would be for me to win gold and my brother after me,” said Ronald. “But I'm really happy I made it to the podium.”
The USA’s Nordic combined tandem of Bryan and Taylor Fletcher admit there is an edge when they compete but that they also look out for one another.
“There's definitely sibling rivalry, but we have each other's back and work together to try to get the best result for both instead of one-up on each other,” explains Bryan, the older by four years.
“I will try to give him tips but he doesn't need too many,” Taylor said of Bryan. “Like how to race the rhythm of the course and stick behind someone on the downhill so you can slingshot past them.”
The luge doubles requires a near-telepathic understanding between the two team-mates who need to be completely on the same wave length in a sport where fractions of a second are decisive, and mutual trust essential. It is not surprising therefore to see sibling teams occupying a prominent and successful position.
The two-time and defending Olympic champions going into the 2014 Winter Games were Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, who ended up claiming silver behind the formidable Germans in Sochi.
Meanwhile, the Latvians also looked to brotherly love and understanding to produce a medal-winning formula, via Andris and Juris Sics, who leave Sochi 2014 with two bronzes from the doubles and the relay event.
“It's synchronised work,” explains Juris Sics, who is two years older than Andris. “Brothers understand each other without words, so brother and brother is a good combination.”
“Big trust between brothers is the key”, adds Lukas Broz of the Czech Republic, one half of yet another sibling tandem with his younger brother Antonin, who competed in the double luge in Sochi, finishing 13th.
Two to tango
Back at the Iceberg Skating Palace, ice dancers Cathy Reed and her brother Chris are competing for Japan.
Born in the USA, the brother-sister duo later opted to represent the country of their mother's birth.
“The Japanese fans have been so supportive of us,” says Chris. “We want to honour that support with our skating. We want to give the support they have given us back to them.”
Veteran Russian luger Albert Demchenko, who won silver in the men’s individual competition at Sochi 2014 - his seventh Winter Games - had hoped to make the occasion even more memorable by competing alongside his daughter, Viktoria, but the 18-year-old didn’t manage to qualify for the national team.
Slovenia’s ice hockey team at Sochi 2014 does boast a parent-child dynamic, in the persons of head coach Matjaz Kopitar and son Anze, who captains NHL outfit Los Angeles Kings when not representing his national team.
“He was always pushing himself,” says father of son. “He had good genes, worked hard and became a good hockey player.”
Slovenia also have brothers David and Marcel Rodman playing key roles, but coach Kopitar says the main key to success at the Games is to ensure that a family feeling extends throughout the whole team.
“We must be like the big family off the ice that we are,” he says. “And on the ice we need to be more than 100 percent.”
Those are precisely the kind of values that helped twin sisters Jocely and Monique Lamoureux secure an Olympic silver for the USA women's ice hockey team at Vancouver 2010. And the pair are back on the ice at Sochi 2014, in a bid to help take Team USA to gold.