The games are on! Welcome to the first day of official Olympic action! Several sports start up events today, and some even include the first Sochi medals, so read on for what’s happening!
The Sprint version of the winter Biathlon is probably the one we know best. The men will ski around a 3.3km track 3 times, for a total of 10km. At the end of the first 2 laps, a spot will be set up for the prone and standing shooting. For every shot they miss, they will have to ski in a 150m penalty loop before starting their next lap on the main track. Obviously, the fastest time is the winner. The Men’s Sprint starts at 18:30 Sochi time, and it is a medal event. Canadian Nathan Smith gets to hit the track first (skiers are started at 30-second intervals), while being followed later on by Brendan Green, Jean-Phillipe Le-Guellec and Scott Perras.
The Skiathlon is divided into 2 parts: the first half of the race is done on classic technique skis, while the second half is done on skating "free" skis. The ladies get to take this on first, as they do 7.5km on each type of ski while circling on a 2.5km track. The time keeps going as they change skis, so the first woman across the finish line is the gold-medal winner. The race starts at 14:00 Sochi time. Brittany Webster, Emily Nishikawa and Amanda Ammar represent Canada.
A few figure skating events start up today. The Team Ice Dance competition starts with the Short Dance, the Team Ladies do their short programs, and the Team Pairs do their free skates. The short programs include 7 necessary moves, while there is more freedom in the free programs. The Ice Dance programs will start at 18:30 Sochi Time, followed by the Team Ladies at 20:10 and Team Pairs at 22:05. Watch for reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the Ice Dance, as well as Kaetlyn Osmond in the Ladies program. In the Pairs program, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are ranked 2nd after the short program.
The Ladies’ Moguls actually had their first qualification round on Thursday, and now continue with the second qualification round and the 3 final rounds. 4 Canadian ladies earned automatic byes to the final rounds, with sisters Chloe, Justine and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe currently ranking 2nd, 3rd and 8th, respectively. The second qualification round starts at 18:00 Sochi time, while the 3 final rounds start at 22:00, 22:35 and 23:10 respectively. Medals will be earned by the top three point-getters at the end of the third final round.
Relax, the men haven’t started yet! This is the preliminary rounds of the women’s hockey. Group A starts today, with the USA taking on Finland at 12:00 Sochi time, followed by Canada taking on Switzerland at 17:00. Hayley Wickenheiser is back for what is possibly her last Olympics with the team, and Shannon Szabados is still in goal like she was for the 2010 games.
Luge is cool. It is also incredibly dangerous, but it’s still cool. The competition is split into 4 runs on the track, with the times on each run added together. The fastest total time wins the gold. The men start their singles competition today, with the first round starting at 18:30 Sochi time and the second round starting at 20:40. Watch for John Fennell, Mitchel Malyk and Samuel Edney to represent Canada.
Although you would think that ski jumping would appear suicidal, the Sochi Olympic site says that safety regulations, smooth tracks and well-trained jumpers makes for an injury rate of only 0.01% in international competitions. The Normal Hill involves making 2 jumps of an HS (Hill Size) 105: one in the qualification round, and one in the final round. The highest scores get medals at the end. The men’s individual qualification starts at 20:30 Sochi time. Canada is well-represented by Matthew Rowley, Trevor Morrice, Dusty Korek, and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes.
The men’s Slopestyle will wrap up today. They had the qualification round on Thursday, but since the Olympics had not been officially opened yet, they were not allowed to eliminate anyone yet. Therefore, all competitors made it to the semifinals, where they will have to earn a spot in the finals. Maxence Parrot and Sebastien Toutant earned byes to the finals by finishing at the top of their heats the other day, while Charles Reid and Mark McMorris need to do the extra round. The semis start at 9:30 Sochi time, and the finals start at 12:45.
As we can remember from the Vancouver Olympics, the Canadians are pretty good at this one. Skaters skate in pairs around a large ice track, and the fastest time wins. The men partake in the 5000m race, and start going at 15:30 Sochi time. Our sole Canadian in the event is Mathieu Giroux, who finished 14th in this even in Vancouver, although he did get gold in the Team Pursuit.