Snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg had the honour of the first gold of the Sochi Winter Games while Norway’s Ole-Einer Bjoerndalen won his seventh career Olympic gold in biathlon.
Fellow Norwegian Marit Bjoergen added to her big medal tally in cross-country skiing, flying Dutchman Sven Kramer got back-to-back 5,000 metres speed skating gold, and the day ended with the Canadian Dufour-Lapointe sisters Justine and Chloe taking moguls gold and silver.
At 40 years 13 days, Bjoerndalen won the men’s sprint to become the oldest winter Olympian to win an individual event, eclipsing Canada’s Duff Gibson who was 39 years 190 days when he won skeleton gold in 2006.
Competing in his sixth Games, Bjoerndalen now has a 7-4-1 haul from the Olympics and equalled the 12 medals from countryman Bjoern Daehlie (8-4-0) in cross-country skiing.
Austria’s Dominik Landertinger took silver and Czech Jaroslav Soukup bronze.
Kotsenburg, 20, captured the first-ever Olympic snowboard slopestyle gold medal for the United States, while silver went to Norway’s Staale Sandbech and bronze to Mark McMorris of Canada.
Bjoergen, 33, held off Swedish rival Charlotte Kalle for an emotional skiathlon gold. Bronze went to Norway’s Heidi Weng the day after the brother of Norwegian team-member Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen died.
Bjoergen and Weng shed tears at the flower ceremony, and Bjoergen said “We did it for her and her family and her brother.” Bjoergen now has four Olympic golds, three silver and one bronze. She is the most successful Norwegian woman at Olympics, and at 33 years 324 days the oldest woman to win an individual Olympic cross-country race.
Olympic and world champion Kramer stormed to gold in a Games record as Dutch skaters swept the medals in the men’s speed skating 5,000m.
Kramer, 27 shaved almost four seconds off his own record set at the 2010 Vancouver Games, while the Dutch also bagged silver for Jan Blokhuisen and bronze for Jorrit Bergsma.
American favourite Hannah Kearney faltered when it mattered to take bronze in the muguls where Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe emulated alpine skiing Giotschl sisters Christine and Mareille as well as the American Mahre brothers Steve and Phil with siblings gold and silver.
American veteran Bode Miller moved into the role of favourite for Sunday’s men’s alpine skiing downhill after impressing in the third and final training ahead of top rival Aksel Lund Svindal.
Dominique Gisin clocked the fastest time in women’s training, Felix Loch took the overnight men’s luge lead en route to possible back-to-back golds, and hosts Russia retained first place into the free programme of the inaugural figure-skating team event.
Despite a glitch affecting the portrayal of the Olympic rings, Friday’s opening ceremony managed to unite Russians in an overwhelmingly positive reaction, even from the fiercest critics of the Games.
“The opening was very nice! Great Job!” opposition leader Boris Nemtsov wrote on Facebook.
Channel One State TV boss Konstantin Ernst, who was the show’s creative director, admitted that recorded footage was used in place of live coverage to cover a glitch at the ceremony’s beginning.
Russian TV viewers were left unaware that one of the five rings did not open properly.
Sochi Games authorities meanwhile said the attempted hijacking of a Turkish passenger jet posed no threat during the opening ceremony.
The men’s downhill will be one of the highlights of Sunday’s medals events. Seven other golds are up for grabs, in women’s snowboard slopestyle, cross-country skiing (men’s skiathlon), speed skating (women’s 3,000m), biathlon (women’s sprint), luge (men’s single), figure skating (team event), and ski jumping (men’s normal hill).