After all the doomsaying and naysaing, the Sochi Olympics are at last underway. And though there have been complaints of accommodations and technical miscues, we're now into the competition. Every Olympics, that's where all the political and infrastructure concerns melt away, and we all get swept up in the battles for the medals. Through the first few days of the Sochi Olympics, these are the most notable moments, good and bad.
Slopestyle's audacious, bodacious debut. Although Bob Costas criticized the inclusion of slopestyle in the Olympics, it proved to be one of the most dramatic events of the opening days, with boarders sailing and spinning over a course so vicious it knocked two competitors out of the event. And the United States cleaned up in the X Games-inspired event: Jamie Anderson won gold on the women's side, while Sage Kotsenburg unexpectedly took the men's gold.
The past and future of Russian skating. The inaugural team skating event has been an unqualified success, and the way it's brought together skaters of several generations has been inspiring to longtime fans. Nowhere was this more evident than in the gold medal-winning Russian team, which featured both legend Evgeni Pluschenko and newly-minted skating queen Julia Lipnitskaia. Perspective: when Pluschenko won his first Olympic medal, Lipnitskaia was just three years old. But they and their teammates combined for near-flawless performances in the team event.
Ashley WagnerFace. Wagner was disgusted and dismayed by her low scores in the short program of the team ice skating event, and she had every reason to be so. Still, her priceless reaction became the first meme of this Olympics, and if there's any justice in the world, it will become as famous as Unimpressed McKayla Maroney from 2012.
Surprise medal misfires. Both Bode Miller and Hannah Kearney were predicted to take gold at this year's Games, and both surprisingly fell short. Miller didn't medal in the men's downhill, victim of an unexpectedly bad final run despite outstanding practices. Meanwhile, Kearney finished with a bronze in the freestyle event, unable to force her way to the top of the leaderboard despite skiing last. Both performances are a reminder that when competition takes place in the razor-thin margins of the Olympic Games, there are no certainties.
Nasty wreckage. Accidents happen at every Games. Some are catastrophic, some doom chances at medals. In one of the worst so far this year, snowboarder Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic wrecked so badly that her helmet cracked. She appeared dazed when leaving the slope.
Sister act. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters gave us a photo that's certain to be iconic. Justine won gold and Chloe won silver in freestyle skiing, and their hand-holding on the podium was a perfect moment. Third sister Maxime unfortunately did not medal, but celebrated as well.
Shootin', skiin', winnin'. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won gold in the 10-kilometer biathlon sprint, marking his seventh gold medal and his 12th medal overall. That ties a record, and Bjoerndalen's age of 40 sets a new one for oldest Winter Olympian medalist. Laugh at his age all you want, but remember he's still very good with a gun.
Heidi Kloser, still an Olympian. After a devastating wreck knocked her out of the Olympics, skier Heidi Kloser asked, "Am I still an Olympian?" Of course she is, and she proved that by walking in the Opening Ceremony, on crutches, one night later.
Many more moments to come. Stay tuned.
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- Sochi Olympics