Women's snowboard: Girl power rules at Rosa Khutor
Like the men, the women snowboarders were out in force at Sochi 2014, with five events on the programme covering the gamut of freestyle and Alpine styles. And, in snowboard parlance, they totally put it down, seizing the opportunity to showcase their sport to the max.
9 February 2014: Anderson seals American slopestyle double
Jamie Anderson (USA) became the first female snowboarder to win an Olympic slopestyle gold. Putting down a majestic display, the 23-year-old recorded an incredible score of 95.25 in her second run, overhauling Enni Rukajarvi (FIN), who took silver.
Jenny Jones (GBR) claimed the bronze thanks to a second run score of 87.25, to give the British their first ever Olympic medal on snow.
Despite posting a respectable score of 80.75 with her first run, Anderson looked well off gold standard, after Sarka Pancochova (CZE) had set the bar at 86.25 with a fine performance to lead at the halfway point.
A dramatic series of second runs saw Jones, fifth after her first outing, set the early pace with a cleanly executed run embellished with some nice tricks that scored her 87.25.
Rukajarvi, whose first run had put her fourth, claimed the lead with an exceptional 92.5 that looked good enough for gold, but a dazzling performance from Anderson, including three near-flawless jumps, clinched a superb victory.
“At the top I felt nauseous,” said Anderson. “There was so much anticipation and pressure leading up to this event for all of us.
Moment to shine
“To have that moment come so quick and know this is your moment to shine and be your best and show the world what a fun sport snowboarding is,” she continued.
“You don't see a lot of other sports where the girls are such good friends and really support each other and give each other energy to really be their best.”
Jones held onto third after hotly-tipped Austrian Anna Gasser landed awkwardly on her penultimate jump.
At 33, the Briton was the final’s oldest contestant and had delayed retirement to compete in Sochi.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said after scooping her surprise bronze. “I knew I was going to drop but I didn’t know how far. I’m just so happy.”
13 February 2014: Farrington pips past champions to halfpipe gold
Kaitlyn Farrington continued the USA’s strong opening in the snowboard events, topping a halfpipe podium that also featured 2010 champion Torah Bright (AUS) and 2002 winner Kelly Clark (USA), who took silver and bronze respectively.
Farrington posted a winning score of 91.75. Defending champion Bright fell just 0.25 short of that benchmark, while 30-year-old Clark recorded a best score of 90.75.
Meanwhile, Turin 2006 gold medallist Hannah Teter (USA), who had led after the first run, finished just off the podium, falling short by 0.25 points with her best score of 90.50.
In a day of twists and turns, it was a remarkable showing from Farrington, who had failed to make the final directly from the heats, and needed a “second-chance” semi-final to progress. The American produced a stunning second run to score 91.75, after her first run score of 85.75 left her almost five points behind compatriot Teter.
As for Bright and Clark, both failed to complete their first runs in the final, setting up a tense finale. The 2010 and 2002 champions responded to the pressure by pulling out the stops and throwing down their biggest moves.
Clark posted 90.75 in her second run to move into gold medal position, but it was short-lived as Bright then stepped up to produce her most taxing routine of the day, which was rewarded with 91.50 and first place.
With the bar raised, Farrington slipped into gear, and delivered a flawless run, which included enough difficulty to merit the day’s top score of 91.75.
The only person who could now dislodge her was Teter, and the 2006 Olympic champion made a Monte Carlo-or-bust attempt to clinch gold with an outlandish 1080 turn. However, it backfired and her first run score was not good enough to secure a podium finish.
It was a magnificent result for Farrington, who became the fourth winner of the women’s halfpipe in as many Games, underlining the status of this exciting discipline as one of the most fiercely contested on the Winter Olympic programme.
16 February 2014: Samkova wins snowboard cross… by a whisker
Eva Samkova (CZE) stormed to snowboard cross gold, before paying tribute to her lucky charm – a painted-on moustache!
The 20-year-old led the final from start to finish to take the title ahead of world number one Dominique Maltais (CAN).
“It's a lucky moustache but this one is special. Because of this special day it's in the national colours,” said Samkova of her distinctive face paint.
“It started in 2011 at my first world championships in La Molina. I painted on a moustache and I finished fifth,” she explained. “It was my best result, so I decided to paint it on all the time. It brings me luck.”
Chloe Trespeuch (FRA) took bronze after avoiding a late collision between Michela Moioli (ITA) and Alexandra Jekova (BUL).
Samkova, though, was in a class of her own throughout the day, finishing top of the pile in the morning's time-trial runs to decide seedings for the main competition. And she then led from start to finish in all three rounds.
“My coach [Jakub Flejsar] told me the best thing I can do is just be in front of them,” explained the Czech.
Vancouver gold medallist Maelle Ricker (CAN) exited the competition in the quarter-finals as she tried to take a tight inside line in an attempt to make up ground in a bid to make the qualifying spots.
In the semi-finals, another of the pre-competition favourites Lindsey Jacobellis (USA), who took silver at Turin 2006, wiped out after leading by a large margin.
19 February 2014: Kummer bounces back for giant parallel slalom gold
Patrizia Kummer (SUI) won gold in the parallel giant slalom snowboard edging out Tomoka Takeuchi (JPN), as Alena Zavarzina (RUS) took bronze.
Kummer was 0.30 seconds down after her first outing on the blue run, but said she always felt confident of recovering that deficit on her favoured red run.
“I still can't believe it, it's crazy. I still have the feeling that I have to go up and do another run,” she said after producing an impressive final run to clinch gold.
“It was very difficult and bumpy. It wasn't easy,” she admitted. “The red course was better for me, so it was good that I could run my first run on the blue course and then go onto the red one.”
Takeuchi's medal was the first won by a female athlete from Asia in snowboarding, and followed the double success of Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka, who took silver and bronze in the men’s halfpipe during the first week of competition.
The 30-year-old said the Japanese successes in Sochi signalled greater things to come from Asian snowboarders.
“Asia is becoming really strong in snowboarding; not just Japan, but all of Asia is becoming stronger and stronger every season,” she said.
For bronze medallist Zavarzina, the joy of making the podium was further increased by the sight of her husband Vic Wild clinching gold in the men’s event moments later.
Kummer’s gold was the fiftieth won by Swiss athletes in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.
22 February 2014: Split-second first for Dujmovits in parallel slalom
Julia Dujmovits (AUT) produced a remarkable comeback to claim gold in the first ever women's Olympic snowboard parallel slalom. In the final against Anke Karstens (GER), the rank outsider overturned a seemingly irreversible deficit to snatch victory at the death.
The 26-year-old trailed by a huge gap of 0.72 seconds after the first run, and looked set for silver. However, an absolutely blistering second run, in which she even recovered from a momentary slip, saw her cross the line fractionally ahead of the German, clinching overall victory by just 0.12 seconds.
In the small final, Amelie Kober of Germany narrowly held off an onslaught from Italy’s Corinna Boccacini to claim bronze.
Never say die
It was the first time Dujmovits had won an elite level parallel slalom race. Her two previous podiums in major competition had come in giant parallel slalom: silver at the 2013 FIS World Championships and gold at the Winter Universiade in Trentino (ITA) the same year.
But in Sochi she took her slalom boarding to a new level. Fifth fastest in the qualification round against the clock, the Austrian then picked off her opponents in the 1/8 final, quarter-final and semi-final rounds, her confidence growing with each victory.
And she was understandably elated to find herself on top of the podium. “I don't know what to say, I'm just so happy and thankful,” said the Austrian. “To be Olympic champion is amazing.”