Sochi 2014 halfpipe


By Duncan Mackay and Nick Butler in Sochi, and Zjan Shirinian in London
Click refresh for latest updates. All times stated are Russian

Until tomorrow...

See you then for all the action here on the insidethegames blog.

As ever, we will be back tomorrow to cover day seven - with Great Britain chasing gold for Lizzie Yarnold in the skeleton an early highlight.

We will also see more medals in men's cross-country skiing, men's super combined skiing, women's biathlon and women's aerials - as well as the conclusion of the men's singles figure skating.

End of day six

So, with the action here finishing a llttle earlier tonight its time to wrap up for the night - and in insidethegames case prepare for the trip back down from the Mountain to the Coastal Press Centre.

But its been another interesting day in Sochi. China perhaps enjoying the best of the day with long and short track speed skating gold. Germany completed their luge domination and titles also for Poland, France and a US slopestyle clean sweep.

The highlight, or lowlight, for most people however was the withdrawal and retirement of Yevgeny Plushenko in a heartbreaking figure skating moment.

Politics back on the Sochi 2014 agenda?

23:01 These Games have largely been devoid of the controversy which overshadowed the build-up but today's decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (see 20:29) that restricts adoptions of children to people in countries that recognise same-sex marriages, including the United States, and with the IOC seeking "clarification" after Sochi 2014 environmental campaigner Yevgeny Vitishko was sent to penal colony means that the spotlight may soon again be back on politics. 

Hot, hot, hot

Quote graphic
"It was so hot I thought I was going to get sunstroke."
- Russia's Yulia Tchekaleva on the weather during the ladies cross country 10km classic.

Quote graphic"I was dressed as lightly as possible and I only wore that because I had to have something on."
- Norway's Marit Bjoergen protected her modesty in the same race despite the heat.

South Korea's skating star

22:38 One of the highlights at Sochi 2014 today did not occur in competition. It was the arrival on the ice of defending women's figure skating champion Kim Yuna, who practiced here for the first time since arriving late last night. She was greeted by hordes of South Korean photographers and cameramen. She skated her short programme to Send in the Clowns, that included a triple-lutz, triple toeloop combination and a triple flip.

"For me I am not focusing on winning the gold medal twice," said Kim, who plans to hang up her skates after this competition. "I am focusing more on taking part in the Olympic Games rather than winning twice."

German dominance - the stats

German flag

This is the second time Germany has swept all events in luge at the Olympic Winter Games. It also won all three events at Nagano 1998.

Felix Lock joins countryman Georg Hackl on a record three gold medals in luge.

Loch, Natalie Geisenberger, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt all won their second gold medal at Sochi 2014.

Nasty fall for skater Abbott

Jeremy Abbott of the United States falls during his routine ©Getty ImagesJeremy Abbott of the United States falls during his routine ©Getty Images

 American Jeremy Abbott has a nasty fall during his short programme routine, sending him careering towards the wall.

Despite injuring his hip, he picks himself up off the ice and completes his number, in true Olympic spirit. Will he be fit enough to skate his free programme tomorrow? He currently lies ninth with six skaters left to perform.

22:17 At the Shayba Arena, Russia's women now lead Sweden 2-0 in their ice hockey match. Canada's men lead Norway by the same scoreline.

22:15 Women's curling Olympic champions Sweden have overcome their deficit to Denmark to win their round robin match 7-6. Canada broke the deadlock against Switzerland to win 8-5, while hosts Russia lost 8-4 to Korea. The United States beat Japan 8-6.

22:07 Competition favourite Patrick Chan of Canada is second after his short programme in the men's figure skating, with 97.52 points. He's almost four points off leader Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.

Update on bobsleigh accident: icemaker suffers two broken legs

22:05 The icemaker hit while working on the track at Sanki Sliding Centre earlier today (see 18:12) has suffered two broken legs, it has been revealed. The man received immediate medical assistance at the scene and was transported to hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries.

IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters during a tour of the Main Press Centre: "We have just been informed that there was an accident near the braking zone and that a worker was hit. It is unclear why he was in this zone or what exactly happened.

"The information we have so far is that he suffered two compound fractures in the legs, but arrived conscious at the hospital."

An official statement from Sochi 2014 said. "During today's official bobsleigh training session and according to standard procedure, a warning signal was given ahead of the forerunner's bob beginning its run on the track.

"Near the braking zone, the forerunner's bob collided with an icemaker. The worker was injured, received immediate medical assistance on the track and was then taken to hospital. The reasons for the icemaker's presence on the track after the warning signal are currently being determined."

The two-man bobsleigh training session resumed after a delay while the track's safety was assessed and damage to the overhead lighting repaired. For more on the story click here.

A huge score of 101.45 puts Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan top of the pile in the men's short programme at the Iceberg Skating Palace. Still 11 men to take to the ice before the night's action is complete.

21:39 The sporting action is continuing on the Olympic Park, but the medals on offer on day six of Sochi 2014 have all been dished out.

Germany have added another gold to their tally, chalking up seven to stay top of the medals table. But with a 1-2-3 for the United States in ski slopestyle, and two gold medals for China, things have been shaken up. Take a look at the full table here.

Quote graphic"Yesterday, I fell on the quad toe in training and I felt a problem in my back. Today I went into training to see what I could do but I couldn't jump.
"In the warm-up I did the triple loop and triple lutz, but after the first triple axel I stepped out and felt terrible pain in my leg and the second one was just a terrible landing. I couldn't feel my legs after it.
"I am sorry for my fans and for everybody, but I tried till the end. I almost cried. It's hard, believe me. This is not how I wanted to end my career. I am very disappointed. But I tried to do my best."
- Russian hero Evgeny Plushenko explains his withdrawal from the men's figure skating competition.

Evening round-up

21:18 Two ice hockey matches are in their early stages. The men's match between Canada and Norway is goalless, while Russia's women lead Sweden 1-0.

We also have women's curling matches in progress. Switzerland and Canada are all square at 5-5. Defending Olympic champions Sweden are 6-5 down to Denmark. Korea lead Russia 7-4, while the United States lead Japan by the same scoreline.

21:15 A quick dash to the Iceberg Skating Palace to report that with almost half of the 29 male figure skaters having completed their short programme, Jeremy Abbott of the United States leads. Jorik Hendrickx of Belgium is just behind in second. The free programme will be skated tomorrow.

21:12 A dominant display by Germany, who win the first ever luge team relay at the Olympics. Unbeatable.

Sochi 2014 gold medal
21:08 It's gold for Germany - four out of four in the luge. Silver belongs to Russia and Latvia get a surprise bronze.

Germany's luge all-stars ©AFP/Getty ImagesGermany's luge all-stars ©AFP/Getty Images

21:04 Canada go fourth. Germany on course for gold, Russia guaranteed a medal, Latvia facing a nervy wait. Austria last up.

21:01 It's no surprise, but it's mighty impressive - Germany go into the lead by a massive 1.030 seconds. Surely that's the gold sewn up. Just Canada and Austria left to run.

20:58 Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic champion, will hand over to Felix Loch, Olympic champion, who will hand over to Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, Olympic champions. You get the drift.

20:57 Russia lead from Latvia and Italy. And guess who's up next? Germany.

Luge relay - it's all about the pad

This is the pad the lugers have to hit before their team-mate can start their run ©AFP/Getty ImagesThis is the pad the lugers have to hit before their team-mate can start their run ©AFP/Getty Images

20:54 How does the luge team relay work? Well, quite simply, it's all about the pad positioned just beyond the finish line. Once it's whacked, the gate at the top of the course opens and the next luger can begin their run. Lightening-quick reactions are just as important as expert sliding. The women are followed by the men and the doubles in each team.

That went down well, the Russian quartet take the lead by 0.616 seconds.

20:42 We've had six of the 12 luge relay teams take to the track at the Sanki Sliding Centre. Latvia top of the pile from Poland. The Sics brothers, who won bronze for Latvia in the doubles yesterday, certainly played their part in that run.

Evening Session

20:31 It's non-stop action here in Sochi and we are now underway in luge and figure skating. Figure skating is wide open after the withdrawal of Evgeny Plushenko but the luge should - make that will - be all about the Germans. 

Russia restricting adoption of children by same-sex couple in foreign countries

 Russia today risked more criticism over its attitude towards homosexuality when it announced that it would restrict adoptions of children to people in countries that recognise same-sex marriages, including the United States.

A decree published on the Government's website states a ban on adoptions will apply to married gay couples and unmarried couples. "Adoptions can be carried out by members of either sex with the exception of...people in a union of two people of the same sex that has been registered as a married according to the legislation of their country...and also unmarried people in such countries," reads the decree, which has been signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The decision by Medvedev to sign the law during Sochi 2014 will be seen as a snub to countries who have criticised Russia's controversial decision last year to introduce an anti-gay propaganda law and which have overshadowed the build-up to these Games.

Time change to super combined

20:25 The The men's super combined downhill run will now start at 10:00 on Friday morning and finish at 11:30. It was originally scheduled for 11:00-12:30 and the change is presumably to avoid the expected warm weather in the middle of the day.

It will mean an early start for those travelling up the mountain to get there - insidethegames can testify to that after today.

The slalom run remains at 15:30-16:40, as originally scheduled.

Reaction to speed skating disqualification

twitter logo
"Thank you to everyone for your support, I'm so grateful! I totally respect the referee's decision, sorry to the other finalists."
Great Britain's Elise Christie reacts to her disqualification, after initially finishing second, in the 500m short track speed skating earlier.

BREAKING NEWS: Plushenko out of figure skating through injury

Evgeny Plushenko has pulled out of the men's figure skating. Reports are that it was a back injury. 

Remember Xiang Liu at Beijing 2008, Philips Idowu at London 2012? Well...this is Russia's equivalent moment and its a bitter, bitter blow. 

He didn't look right physically or mentally in the warm up - and then a quick jump and spin ended with an awkward landing on his right ankle. After staying where he was and speaking to support staff he has walked off the ice. 

Heartbreak for Evgeny Plushenko as he is forced to withdraw from the men's singles ©AFP/Getty ImagesHeartbreak for Evgeny Plushenko as he is forced to withdraw from the men's singles ©AFP/Getty Images

There was a fierce row over whether Plushenko - the Turin 2006 champion and Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010 runner up - should be selected for Sochi after an injury ravaged four years. The latest of various insidethegames reports on the saga is here.

But he seemingly proved the doubters wrong by leading Russia to team gold earlier in the week. There have since been injury rumours but, it is fair to say, that nobody expected this.

Norway curling team in pants related trouble

20:00 Norway's curling team and its headline-hugging pants, with eccentric, geometric design, are in the news again after the team posted a picture of themselves in the Olympic Park wearing uniform jackets, boxer shorts and no pants. They thought they were not allowed to wear the pants in the Park because the clothing manufacturer's logo, which is not a Games sponsor, was visible.

But International Olympic Committee (IOC) communications director Mark Adams clarified there was no issue with the pants, on or off. "If it is part of their official uniform, absolutely, they can wear them in the Park, no problem, and they can take them off in the Park as well - I guess I shouldn't say that," Adams said

Curling team with no pants ©Norwegian Curling Team/FacebookThe Norwegian curling team with no pants in the Olympic Park after seemingly mistaking the IOC rules ©Norwegian Curling Team/Facebook

The team wearing the controversial pants ©AFP/Getty ImagesAnd wearing the controversial pants... ©AFP/Getty Images

More plaudits for Germany

19:50 German railways Deutsche Bahn is losing millions after introducing a special offer GOLD card just before the Olympic Games. The card, - €25 ($34/£20/1,202 roubles) for second class, €50 ($68/£40/2,400 roubles) for first class - gives passengers free train rides throughout the country the day after a German gold medal. And Germany leads the medal table, with six golds so far. Perhaps that's the reason luge doubles champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt are nicknamed "The Bayern Express".

No protests rule..

19:49 The "no political banners" policy was enforced with gusto at the Canada v United States women's ice hockey match when several spectators were forced to take down a banner reading "Snowden and Russia heart (love) Canada."

Biathlon reaction

Killy won three gold medals in 1968 and went on to become an IOC member in 1995 before chairing the IOC Coordination Commission for Sochi 2014, so a little way to go for Fourcade yet  - but he's certainly having a good week.

Eric Lesser of Germany took silver and Evgeniy Garanichev of Russia does take the bronze.

Speaking of gold medals...

Sochi 2014 gold medal 19:35 
Speaking of gold medals, we can finally confirm that Martin Fourcade has taken his second gold medal of the Games by winning the 20km individual race...

He almost had time to cable car down the mountain, receive his gold medal in the medals plaza in the Olympic Park, and get back again in time to watch the stragglers trundle over the line. 

But a wonderful performance to become the first Frenchman to win two gold medals in one Winter Olympics since Jean-Claude Killy in Grenoble 1968.

Speed skating gold for China

Zhang Hong takes gold for China ©AFP/Getty ImagesZhang Hong takes gold for China ©AFP/Getty Images

 Sochi 2014 gold medalGold in the women's 1,000m speed skating goes to Zhang Hong of China. Ireen Wust and Margot Boer of the Netherlands take silver and bronze. As someone points out, beating the Netherlands in speed skating is one of the toughest tasks in winter sport so fantastic performance by the Chinese skater!

She clocked 1 minute 14.02 secs to take victory, for the record.

And, of course, second gold medal of the afternoon for China. I was in the cable-car at that point so good job I just checked the short track results before posting it was their first of the Games...

Being out on the course wasn't really working so a quick scuttle to the press room provides an opportunity to post some photos...

Try skiing up this hill - though the photo doesn't convey how hard it is! ©ITGTry skiing up this hill - though the photo doesn't convey how hard it is! ©ITG

The cable car route up to the biathlon course @ITGThe cable car route up to the biathlon course ©ITG

The vocal crowd get behind the biathletes @ITGThe vocal crowd get behind the biathletes ©ITG

The view from the stands during the biathlon @ITGThe view from the stands during the biathlon ©ITG

19:22 There are still riders out on the course, but Fourcade can start getting the champagne ready because no-one is going to catch his time.  

19:18 In case you are wondering, a bad day at the office for Ole Einer Bjoerndalen. He has already finished over three minutes off the pace and the wait for the record medal haul goes on.

Another CAS appeal thrown out

19:14 A third athlete has had their appeal to compete here thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  Argentinean skier Maria Belen Simari Birkner, who had competed at Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010, had claimed she had been unfairly not picked for Sochi 2014.

Her brother, Cristian Simari Birker and sister Macerena, have been selected to compete here but she was upset she had been overlooked for, what she claimed, were lower ranked skiers.

"The CAS ad hoc Division found that it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the application," a statement from CAS said. "She mainly alleged that she has been discriminated against by the COA, on the basis of her family affiliation, a form of discrimination prohibited by and incompatible with the Olympic Charter and Fundamental Principles of Olympism."

She is the second  Argentinian to have an appeal to compete here thrown out. Last week 52-year-old veteran freestyle skier Clyde Getty was also told he did not have a case. Read out report here.

Halfpipe freestyle skier Daniela Bauer had also had her appeal against her non-selection for the Austrian Olympic team at Sochi 2014 thrown out. See here for more info on that one.

Fourcade takes the lead

As you can probably work out is pretty hard to work out what is going on giving the action all over the course. But this really is a brutal sport. Competitors strewn on the ground at the finish. Eric Lesser of Germany moves into second place.

Garanichev of Russia remains second and Simon Eder of Austria is currently third. 

Amid cries of "Ooh la la" from the Gallic end of the press room, France's Martin Fourcade has taken over the biathlon lead. Only man to break 50 minutes so far and will that be the gold medal?

Australian Para-snowboarder in critical condition

Some bad news to bring you from Paralympic winter sport ahead of next month's Games. Australian snowboarder Matthew Robinson is in a critical condition in hospital after falling at a World Cup event in La Molina. Read more here.

Quick round of up of the other action

A brief biathlon interlude to round up what else is going on. In ice hockey the US have beaten Slovakia 7-1 while Russia open their account with a 5-2 win over Slovenia.

Halfway through, meanwhile, in the women's 1,000m speed skating.


But at the moment the only person with a minute of the Russian's time is Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen - who is 30 seconds behind. 

Every time a shot is successfully fired a huge roar echoes around the arena - and the roars grow louder as first to complete the course is Russia's Evgeniy Garanichev is first to finish. 

That does not mean he will win, of course, because the starts are staggered with 30 second intervals. 

In the lead after the third shoot is Lukas Hofer of Italy but lots of big names further back on the course. 

Wonderful atmosphere with Russian but also a multitude of Norwegian and other flags flying as the competitors combine shooting with five laps of four kilometre cross country which includes an uphill section I don't think I could walk up let alone ski up.

It will have to be visualised for the moment I'm afraid as WiFi incapable of loading pictures out on the course, it would seem. But they will come soon, I promise!

It's a two hour trip from the coastal cluster to the biathlon centre. Starting with two bus journey's into the mountains, followed by a jaw dropping cable-car ride to the top and then a further mini-bus journey to the start line.

But it's worth it.

©Twitter"Slovakia calls timeout to discuss the impending greatest comeback in sports history. #Sochi2014"
- Chicago Sun-Times
writer Mark Lazerus on Slovakia's admirable attempts to overhaul a 7-1 deficit in the final period of their men's ice hockey match.

Dating and the Olympics don't mix

Jamie Anderson, winner here of the gold medal in the inaugural women's slopestyle snowboard event, claims she had to stop using dating app Tinder because it was proving too distracting. "There was a point where I had to be like okay, this way too distracting," she said. "I deleted my account to focus on the Olympics."

Quote graphic"Obviously I am quite upset about it. I did everything I could and it didn't pay off. It is pretty annoying. People don't normally take hits in the first lap. It is frustrating that the race was kind of over from the start."
- British short track speed skater Elise Christie on being denied a silver medal after the officials penalised her for causing a crash in the 500m final.

Track worker injured in bobsleigh accident

18:12 Two-man official bobsleigh training has been suspended at Sanki Sliding Centre after a track worker was struck by a forerunner, a manned bobsleigh that runs the track before the competitors' training heats.

The worker was injured and taken to hospital by helicopter ambulance. The incident occurred between the exit of the final curve and the finish line.

Heat two of official two-man training, scheduled to start at 16:55, has been delayed.

No official announcement has been made regarding the incident or the rescheduling of Thursday's training. The luge team relay competition is scheduled to begin at 20:15.

18:08 Norwegian flags flying as Ole Einar Bjørndalen sets off in the 20km at the Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Centre.

18:03 Sugar Todd of the United States racing in the second 1,000m pair... we like that name.

17:59 Attention now on the Adler Arena Skating Centre for the women's 1,000m speed skating - 36 women racing in 18 pairs. Best time wins.

We're also, of course, keeping are eyes on the men's 20km biathlon, with Ole Einar Bjørndalen going for a record 13th Winter Olympic medal.

17:56 The United States now 7-1 up on Slovakia in the ice hockey, Russia just about keeping Slovenia at arms length, at 3-2.

17:39 Slovenia have pulled one back against Russia in the second period of their men's ice hockey match, so it's now 2-1. The United States are 4-1 up on Slovakia.

A lucky 13th for Bjørndalen?

Ole Einar Bjørndalen is going for a record 13th Winter Olympic medal ©Getty ImagesOle Einar Bjørndalen is going for a record 13th Winter Olympic medal ©Getty Images

Our reporter Nick Butler is heading to the mountains to see if Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen can make Winter Olympic history. The biathlete, going in the 20km, is bidding for a record 13th medal at a Winter Games. His first was in Nagano in 1998, and he already has a gold to his name in Sochi, with victory in the 10km. All eyes will be on the 40-year-old at 6pm.

It's a little quiet in Sochi, sporting wise, at the moment. But we do have Russia in action in the men's ice hockey. They lead Slovenia 2-0 after the first period. The United States lead Slovakia 1-0.

©Twitter"I can't believe it right now.. I just won the Olympics! Mind blown. congrats to everyone today and @guskenworthy @NickGoepper for the sweep!"
- The United States' Joss Christensen celebrates his ski slopestyle gold, and a 1-2-3 in the event for his country.

16:50 The next gold medal to be awarded will be in the women's 1,000m speed skating, where the Netherlands will be hopeful of clocking up yet another Olympic title. The men's 20km biathlon will also get underway at the same time, 2pm.

Russia's highest sports honour goes to 15-year-old

Skater Julia Lipnitskaia, the biggest points contributor to Russia's triumph in the team event here on Sunday, has been awarded Russia's highest sports honour at the age of 15, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has announced.

She has been named an Honoured Master of Sports in recognition of the feat, an award reserved for Olympic, Paralympic and Deaflympic medalists, as well as world and European champions and World Cup winners. "We already had such cases in gymnastics, where young athletes became masters of sports," Mutko said.

Two of this afternoon's four men's round robin matches in the curling have been wrapped up. Great Britain beat the United States 5-3, and Sweden narrowly beat Norway 5-4.

16:18 Elise Christie is penalised and stripped of the silver. It goes instead to Arianna Fontana of Italy and bronze to Park Seung-Hi of Korea.

Elise Christie has been penalised for this crash with two of her opponents ©Getty ImagesElise Christie has been penalised for this crash with two of her opponents ©Getty Images

16:17 The Briton went down the inside for a double-pass, skittling her two opponents towards the barriers.

16:16 Silver for Elise Christie, but will the officials make a call on the crash?

Sochi 2014 gold medal16:15 Three crashers - it's 500m gold for Li Jianrou of China.

False start...

16:12 Here we go then, can Great Britain's Elise Christie make a bit of history and become the first European to win this event, and the first from her county to win any speed skating gold?

No tweeting for curlers

Britain's women's curling team have imposed a Twitter ban on themselves and promised each other they won't use their personal accounts until the end of Sochi 2014.

"I just don't quite know what to do when I pick up my phone now," said skip Eve Muirhead. "I'm sure as soon as the competition is over we'll be on it for a few hours."

Muirhead's third, Anna Sloan, explained the self-imposed ban was to try to ensure nothing distracted the team from trying to win the Olympic gold medal. "Curling gets so much more attention for the Olympic Games than it does for any other competition," she said. "There's just so many more eyes watching us."

Muirhead believes it is best to avoid what is being said about them online, whether good or bad. "You don't really know, or want to know, some of the stuff that a lot of people are saying," she said, even though the policy nearly made her miss a good luck message on Twitter from her idol, Great Britain's London 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, on Monday.

16:01 The final of the women's 500m speed skating is up next, in a just a few minutes.

Beautiful Bolero

Torvill and Dean will recreate that magic Bolero performance later today ©Getty Images

15:59 Later today, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean will take to the ice in Sarajevo to recreate the magic Bolero routine that won them Olympic gold in 1984, almost 30 years to the day.

Mike Rowbottom looks at how that historic routine came together to ultimately wow the world.

15:52 The crowd liked that - Russia's Victor An blasts past his Chinese opponent on the final lap to win the race. But it's all academic, they're both in the final at just after 10.15pm.

15:49 The defending Olympic champions Canada are down and surely out.

15:46 The second semi-final is made up of China, Italy, Canada and Russia.

15:44 The officials have given the United States a reprieve, they join Netherlands and Kazakhstan in the relay final. Korea out.

15:42 Actually, it looks like they didn't actually make contact before grabbing their one way ticket to the barrier. Netherlands win from Kazakhstan, Korea and the USA.

15:41 The Korean and United States speed skaters clash during a frantic semi-final in the men's 5,000m relay.

15:34 Some live score lines in curling. Switzerland lead Russia 3-2, Canada are 5-3 up on Denmark, Sweden lead Norway 4-1 and Great Britain also lead 4-1 over the US. 

15:23 Short track speed skating semi finals just finished in the women's 500m. Park Seung-he of South Korea and Elise Christie of Great Britain were the two semi-final winners with the final to come later on today.

Quote graphic"I am really pleased. It was a solid performance and I think we realised how important that game was. China are always going to be a really tough team, it was never going to be easy. "I love it when my team play so great, it was a real team effort out there."
- Great Britain skip Eve Muirhead is delighted with after her team beat China earlier on today.

Cross-country victory for Poland

Sochi 2014 gold medal15:01 Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland wins the 10km classic race. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden is second and Theresa Johaug of Norway finishes third. 

Marit Bjoergen of Norway is only fifth while the Russian early leader Zhukova fends up seventh. 

Medals, medals, medals

But at the top of the pile it remains Germany. And that mention makes it the perfect time to plug our latest insidethegames blog - by Mike Rowbottom and entitled "Germany at the Winter Games: We luge, we win." Read it here

Speaking of medals there hasn't been much change on the table this morning with only one set handed out. Except for the Americans that is - as they add gold, silver and bronze to join Canada, Norway and the Netherlands on four gold medals. See the latest table on the left of the insidethegames homepage here.

Action elsewhere

14:49 The latest in a seemingly never-ending batch of curling round robin matches have also begun while in ice hockey Finland eventually defeated Austria 8-4. 

Very comfortable for medal table toppers Germany as they beat Japan 4-0 in the women's ice hockey tournament.

14:43 Still some big names to come but Natalia Zhukova has set down the early marker for the host nation in the 10km classic. 29 minutes 15.5 secs and no one has got within 20 seconds of her yet. 

But no, as I write Stefanie Boehler of Germany snatches the lead. 

14:40 Moving straight on to the cross country where the 10km pursuit is going on and a third Russian gold medal of Sochi 2014 is an outside possibility.

Slopestyle final Final - Christensen wins gold!

Joss Christensen on the way to gold in a US clean sweep ©Getty ImagesJoss Christensen on the way to gold in a US clean sweep ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal14:33 Joss Christensen sets of for the final run, but it doesn't matter because the gold medal is already his. Simply too good in the first round of the final. He scores 93.80 anyway so had the two best runs of the competition.

US domination as silver goes to Gus Kenworthy and bronze to Nicholas Goepper.

14:31 Fine effort by Noway's Haatveit and he improves to 91.80 bum stays fourth. So we have an all US podium.

14:27 Only 78.40 for Woods after a poor landing. He will stay fifth and that means only Haatveit of Norway can prevent the US clean sweep.

14:25 Not so good by Goepper. 61.80 but he stays third due to his first run. James Woods up next...

14:23 Kenworthy has pulled out a 93.60! It is good enough for second place and we currently have US skiers occupying the top three positions.

14:21 it is Gus Kenworthy of the US now then it will be the "big four" of Christensen, Goepper, Haaatveit and Woods... Don't whatever you do go away!

14:18 Only five to go in the slopestyle - but you can guarantee that the three medals will come from these five...

14:12 We are back underway in the early stages of the second and final run in the slopestyle final.

Quarter-finals action also going on in the women's 500m short track speed skating, while the women's 10km classic cross country has begun.

Coming up this afternoon

14:00 The conclusion to the slopestyle coming up in Sochi. But we also have medal action in cross country and short track speed skating about to begin - and Russia in ice hockey later on!

Slopestyle final

13:56 Its HUGE!! 95.80. That is supreme  from Christensen and that may be the gold medal run right there. So it is a US one-two after run one with Norway in third. 

13:54 Make that third  for Woods as the old man of the field - Andreas Haatveit of Norway scores 89.60 to leapfrog into second place. Only the qualification leader Joss Christiensen to come...

13:52 James Woods of Great Britain scores a solid if not spectacular 86.60 to go second. 

13:50 Huge score of 92.40 from Nicholas Goepper of the United States puts him miles in the lead as we get towards the business end of the first final run in the slopestyle.

twitter logoAfter slopestyle skiing (amazing!) Back to the track - skeleton! Did it once myself, loved it! #WirfuerD #Sochi2014
- As ever, IOC Athletes Commission chair Claudia Bokel leads the way on the IOC tweeting front. She has also posted this great picture from the course...

Halfway down the skeleton track as action gets underway ©TwitterHalfway down the skeleton track as action gets underway ©Twitter

13:40 It is now 6-2 to Finland over Austria in the men's ice hockey while Germany have gone 2-0 up over Japan in the women's match.

13:37 The weather today is absolutely perfect for photos. And we hope to have plenty more as the slopestyle qualification action continues this afternoon. Henrik Harlaut of Sweden is the - very - early leader in this the first run of the final. Only four out of 12 have gone.

Pavel Korpachev of Russia in the slopestyle qualification earlier ©Getty ImagesPavel Korpachev of Russia in the slopestyle qualification earlier ©Getty Images

13:30 We are underway in the slopestyle final. Out of the 12 man start-list, if you discount the two Norwegians Andreas Haatveit and Aleksander Aurdal, aged 27 and 25 respectively, every other qualifier is aged 23 or under. 

Skeleton wrap up

Obviously - and mistakenly - taking my British accent for authority, I was asked yesterday why Britain are so good at women's skeleton? I could only suggest the facilities at Bath might have something to do with it. But they are indeed good - bronze in Salt Lake City, silver in Turin, gold in Vancouver Sochi?

Lizzie Yarnold leads with a combined time of 1:56.89 at the halfway point. That's 0.44 of a second ahead of Noelle Pikus-Pace of the US with Elena Nikitina of Russia third. Final two runs to come tomorrow.

Sporting action heating up in Sochi...

13:22 Outstanding again by Yarnold - 58.46 - three hundredths slower than her round track record but she is still a cut above the rest of the field.

13:20 Ekena Nikitina of Russia can't beat the time of Pikus-Pace and goes second. But here comes the women in form in the skeleton - track record holder Lizzie Yarnold!

13:18 We also have the first part of the men's ski-slopestyle final beginning in around ten minutes time.

13:16 Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States takes the lead with a strong 58.65 second run in the skeleton. 

Ski jumping crash

13:11 Some good news as far as injuries are concerned as a Russian team official reassures the Associated Press that ski jumper Mikhail Maksimochkin was not seriously injured in a dramatic training crash on the large hill yesterday. 

Paramedics rushed Mikhail Maksimochkin from the scene after a training crash yesterday ©AFP/Getty ImagesParamedics rushed Mikhail Maksimochkin from the scene after a training crash yesterday ©AFP/Getty Images

Maksimochkin was kept overnight in the hospital for observation and - although his further participation in the event is doubtful - he should be well enough to return to the Olympic Village later today.

Skeleton back underway

13:05 You would be brave to bet against Germany in any sport where sliding is on the agenda...but the heat one leaders are still to come.

13:02 Sophia Griebel is leading midway through the second heat of the women's skeleton. Ahead of fellow German Marion Thees and Great Britain Turin 2006 silver medal winner Shelly Rudman.

Ice hockey firsts

philip barker12:56 Speaking of ice hockey, insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker is speculating on history in the making as he has heard that Slovenia will be the first team ever to wear a green kit in Olympic ice hockey. If they do this, it will follow in the footsteps of their national football team - who also sport a green kit.

Slovenia have the tough task of taking on Russia, and the home crowd, this afternoon.

But they will be on a high after their first ever Winter Olympic gold medal yesterday courtesy of Tina Maze in the downhill. Even if it was a shared gold...

12:50 We are underway in the ice hockey this afternoon and after a game which very nearly finished 0-0 between Switzerland and Latvia last night, it is a high scorer on the ice at the moment as Finland lead Austria 4-2 in the first period.

The Swiss did edge a 1-0 win in the end last night, for the record, while Germany have takes a 1-0 lead over Japan in the women's clash also currently ongoing.

Behind the scenes illegal betting allegations...

12:41 The Olympics has been largely devoid of controversy so far - but it is being reported in The Australian this morning that the IOC are investigating behind-the- scenes betting allegations in the men's 500m speed-skating event.

This comes after Australia's Daniel Greig said, after finishing the 1,000m final, that Dutch coaches had bet on him as an outside medal chance for the 500m.

''Dutch coaches were watching me in training and bet money on me as an outsider to win a medal, obviously they lost it,'' he said, after finishing well outside the medal places.

But the IOC told The Australian that enquiries to their betting monitoring company showed there was no suspicious betting patterns in relation to the event - but are seeking clarification from the Netherlands Olympic Committee about involvement of team officials.

The IOC has, of course, banned anyone with accreditation - including athletes, coaches and officials - from betting on any aspect of the Olympic competition.

Yarnold leads way in skeleton

Lizzie Yarnold is leading the way after heat one of the skeleton ©Getty ImagesLizzie Yarnold is leading the way after heat one of the skeleton ©Getty Images

12:31 It has been a good morning for Great Britain - what with Woods and a curling win - and its getting better because Lizzie Yarnold clocks a track record of 58.43 seconds to lead after the first of four runs in the women's skeleton.

Elena Nikitina of Russia and Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States lie second and third. 

12:22 Josh Christensen posts a whopping 93.20 to lead the qualification in the slopestyle. Looking to end a successful slopestyle debut for the US team on another high. 

Second place is Norway's Andreas Haatveit and Britain's James Woods stays third despite pulling up on his second run. Final in an hour or so...

12:10 Its been a text heavy insidethegames blog so far today so time for an image interlude - some of the best ones posted yesterday on instagram by various athletes.

The Olympic Rings against the mountain backdropAnother by Jan Hudec of athletes having fun with the Olympic Rings 
©Jan Hudec /Instagram
First gold medal winner Sage Kostenburg was "super stoked", I would assume, to pose with a Russian guardFirst gold medal winner Sage Kostenburg was presumably "super stoked" to pose with the Russian police choir
©Sage Kotsenburg/Instagram

A stunning view of the mountain scene in SochiA stunning view of the mountain scene posted by US skier Stacey Cook 
©Stacey Cook/Instagram
Another great picturre of the evening actionAnother great picture of the evening moguls action posted by Canada's Jan Hudec ©Jan Hudec/Instagram

The morning session is over in the curling Canada still lead the way after a 8-5 win over Denmark. Tougher matches for Great Britain and Sweden but both scraped home. Britain beat China 8-7 and Sweden overcame Switzerland 9-8.

Broadcasting boost for Sochi 2014

11:47 Some positive broadcasting statistics to complete the briefing. 13 million viewers in Russian watched the biathlon on Monday, 14.1 in Japan watched the nation win silver and bronze in Tuesday's men's halfpipe final, while in Canada 28 million - so over 80 per cent of the population - have watched the Games at some point. 

11:44 Flag raising Ceremony for India will be on February 16 but no complete confirmation on timing yet.

11:43 Briefing beginning to wrap up. Complaints from the Austrians about the late time of doping tests. IOC say that tests are usually carried out between 6am and 11pm and are in "full compliance" with IOC and WADA standards.

11:40 Just getting underway in the women's skeleton first run - as final preparations are made to the ice.

The ice is swept to ensure perfect speed for the women's skeleton ©Getty ImagesThe ice is swept to ensure perfect speed for the women's skeleton ©Getty Images

Daily Briefing

More on the Evgenii Vitishko case. A request was sent from the IOC to Russian authorities for "clarification" this morning and it will probably take a day or two for a reply to be heard.

IOC Athletes Commission Elections next on the Agenda, "We have had a good response so far and it is very important for us to get people to vote," Mark Adams explains.

There will be nine candidates for two places - with Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen among the candidates - with the results to be announced on February 20.

Security concerns on buses coming under fire again. Searches and accreditation checks on mountain buses have increased over the last two days, so it is being asked why these extra measures were not in place before.

Journalists have sensed an opportunity here, and the question of whether recent route changes for buses is for logistical or security reasons is being asked. "To provide a service in a more comfortable way," was the reply. 

Questions on the three year sentence handed out to Russian environmental protester Evgenii Vitishko yesterday. IOC have been following the case, and are asking for clarification from Sochi 2014 and the Russian authorities, but have heard that the sentence was for breaking parole in a way which had nothing to do with the Olympics.

11:14 IOC spokesman Mark Adams now taking questions on the weather again. "We are relaxed but we are watching the situation." he says, with warm weather predicted over the weekend.

Lots of snow remains in storage to deal with what is a "common issue in winter sports."


11:11 Josh Christensen of the United States leads after the first run of the slopestyle. qualification. Andreas Haatveit of Norway and James Woods of Great Britain lie second and third.

Daily briefing

11:06 The daily press briefing is underway here. An update currently being provided on the transport system... The very good one I would say... Buses on average cover over 1,000 miles a day.

insidethegames historian Philip Barker has been looking at curling's British heritage

philip barker11:01 Many sports these days use music in their presentation but for one sport here in Sochi , its an integral part of its history.Curling pays tribute to its  Scottish roots at every major competition with a rousing rendition of "Scotland the Brave."

Since the sport returned to the Olympic fold in 1998, organisers have striven to find a local group to set the tone in traditional fashion. Pipers came from nearby Milan for the 2006 Games  and in Vancouver they also played.

In Sochi the teams are being piped onto the rink by the City Pipes, a Moscow based group  pipers and drummers.

"We have prepared traditional Scottish marches, very powerful tunes of battle " said lead piper  Evegeniy Lapekin.

For the two British teams made up entirely of Scots, the music is a welcome touch.

10:40 Great Britain, Canada and Sweden - three of the big contenders for the medals - are al ahead in the women's curling over China, Denmark and Switzerland respectively.

10:26 As ever it is curling up first here with three matches already underway. But we don't have long to wait for the beginning of the men's slopestyle competition. It is beginning early to avoid the warmest weather and is just getting started. 

10:12 From a British point of view there is a lot of attention on the skeleton getting underway - with British hopes Lizzie Yarnold and Shelly Rudman each hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2010 champion Amy WIlliams.

But from a global perspective, could this be the day when Ole Einer Bjoerndalen breaks the record medals haul. He's up in the 20km race.

Ole Einer Bjoerndalen could secure a record Olympic medal haul today ©Sports Illustrated/Getty ImagesOle Einer Bjoerndalen could secure a record Olympic medal haul today
©Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

09:50 Six golds up for grabs today - with one apiece in speed skating, biathlon and cross country as well as in luge, slopestyle and short-track speed skating.

09:34 For the second day in a row we had some history here yesterday after an Alpine skiing gold medal was shared for the very first time - Switzerland's Dominique Gisin and Slovenia's Tina Maze reaping the benefits.

But it was also Germany's day in Sochi. They took two more gold medals - in the luge and Nordic combined - and now lead the medals table by two golds from Canada, Norway and the Netherlands.

09:24 It is an absolute scorcher of a morning. A clear blue sky with palm trees lightly swaying in

About the author

Duncan Mackay Editor

Duncan Mackay

Duncan Mackay is the founding editor of, the world’s leading and most influential independent Olympic news website. He was voted the British Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, British News Story of the Year in 2004 and British Sports Internet Reporter of the Year in 2009. Mackay is one of Britain's best-connected journalists and during the 16 years he worked at The Guardian and The Observer he regularly broke several major exclusive stories. He was also the only newspaper journalist in Britain to correctly predict that London would win its bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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