Split-second finishes: The Sochi Games' close races

Yahoo Olympics

Win by a nose? Come in by a hair's breadth? Squeak in by a heartbeat?

Closer. Closer. And faster. The Winter Games reminded spectators that world-class athletes are pushing the limits of human achievement — and only microseconds separate a gold from a silver.

And as Olympic competitors and observers know, often they're racing not against their fiercest rivals but against the clock. Then again, that's not always the case during the heats, in which athletes with the best time in their particular pack — not overall — qualify.

Scroll through to find 2014 victories measured in scant split seconds (and feel free to check the math at the Sochi Olympics site).

Check back for updates

France's Martin Fourcade and Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen (L) race to the finish line during the men's biathlon 15 km mass start event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 18, 2014. Svendsen finished first ahead of Fourcade and Czech Republic's Ondrej Moravec. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT BIATHLON)
France's Martin Fourcade and Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen race to finish line in men's biathlon 15 km mass start event at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
France's Martin Fourcade and Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen (L) race to the finish line during the men's biathlon 15 km mass start event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 18, 2014. Svendsen finished first ahead of Fourcade and Czech Republic's Ondrej Moravec. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT BIATHLON)
The NBC Olympics Twitter photo shows a three-way finish in the men's skicross quarterfinal Russia’s Egor Korotkov, Sweden’s Victor Norberg and Finland’s Jouni Pellinen on Feb. 20, 2014.
Men's skicross three-way finish quarterfinal
The NBC Olympics Twitter photo shows a three-way finish in the men's skicross quarterfinal Russia’s Egor Korotkov, Sweden’s Victor Norberg and Finland’s Jouni Pellinen on Feb. 20, 2014.
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Tina Maze of Slovenia (R) hugs Dominique Gisin of Switzerland after her run during the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill on day 5 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Alpine Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 5
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Tina Maze of Slovenia (R) hugs Dominique Gisin of Switzerland after her run during the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill on day 5 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen (L) celebrates as he crosses the finish line next to France's Martin Fourcade during the men's biathlon 15km mass start event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT BIATHLON OLYMPICS)
Norway's Svendsen celebrates as he crosses the finish line next to France's Fourcade during the men's biathlon 15km mass start event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor
Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen (L) celebrates as he crosses the finish line next to France's Martin Fourcade during the men's biathlon 15km mass start event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT BIATHLON OLYMPICS)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Zbigniew Brodka of Poland competes during the Men's 1500m Speed Skating event on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 8
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Zbigniew Brodka of Poland competes during the Men's 1500m Speed Skating event on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Austria's Matthias Mayer reacts in the fininsh area after competing in the men's alpine skiing downhill race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SKIING TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Austria's Mayer reacts in the fininsh area after competing in the men's alpine skiing downhill race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center
Austria's Matthias Mayer reacts in the fininsh area after competing in the men's alpine skiing downhill race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SKIING TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: (FRANCE OUT) Anna Fenninger of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Women's Super-G at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Alpine Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 8
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: (FRANCE OUT) Anna Fenninger of Austria wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Women's Super-G at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Canada's Charles Hamelin (back) and Eduardo Alvarez of the U.S. (front) fall as Russia's Victor An (R) skates past during the men's 1,000 metres short track speed skating quarter-finals race at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SPEED SKATING)
Canada's Charles Hamelin and Eduardo Alvarez of the U.S. fall as Russia's Victor An (R) skates past during the men's 1,000 metres short track speed skating quarter-finals race at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games
Canada's Charles Hamelin (back) and Eduardo Alvarez of the U.S. (front) fall as Russia's Victor An (R) skates past during the men's 1,000 metres short track speed skating quarter-finals race at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SPEED SKATING)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Yang Zhou of China leads the pack during the Ladies' 1500m Short Track Speed Skating heats on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Iceberg Skating Palace on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 8
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Yang Zhou of China leads the pack during the Ladies' 1500m Short Track Speed Skating heats on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Iceberg Skating Palace on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 10: Gold medalist Michel Mulder of the Netherlands celebrates after the Men's 500 m Race 2 of 2 Speed Skating event during day 3 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 10: Gold medalist Michel Mulder of the Netherlands celebrates after the Men's 500 m Race 2 of 2 Speed Skating event during day 3 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Norway's winner Kjetil Jansrud reacts in the finish area after competing in the men's alpine skiing Super-G competition during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Cente February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Norway's winner Kjetil Jansrud reacts in the finish area after competing in the men's alpine skiing Super-G competition during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center
Norway's winner Kjetil Jansrud reacts in the finish area after competing in the men's alpine skiing Super-G competition during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Cente February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 20: Joergen Graabak of Norway (R) beats Fabian Riessle of Germany in the Nordic Combined Men's Team 4 x 5 km during day 13 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 20, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Nordic Combined - Winter Olympics Day 13
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 20: Joergen Graabak of Norway (R) beats Fabian Riessle of Germany in the Nordic Combined Men's Team 4 x 5 km during day 13 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 20, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea competes in the 500 meter during the Essent ISU World Cup Speed Skating at the Utah Olympic Oval on January 21, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lee won the 500 meter event. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Sang-Hwa Lee Of Korea Competes Getty Images
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea competes in the 500 meter during the Essent ISU World Cup Speed Skating at the Utah Olympic Oval on January 21, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lee won the 500 meter event. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11: (FRANCE OUT) Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway wins the gold medal, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway wins the silver medal during the Cross-Country Men's & Women's Sprint at the Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Cross-Country Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 4
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11: (FRANCE OUT) Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway wins the gold medal, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway wins the silver medal during the Cross-Country Men's & Women's Sprint at the Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch reacts in the finish area after competing in the slalom run of the women's alpine skiing super combined event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at th Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch reacts in the finish area after competing in the slalom run of the women's alpine skiing super combined event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch reacts in the finish area after competing in the slalom run of the women's alpine skiing super combined event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at th Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (RUSSIA - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)
United States' Ted Ligety celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
5 things to know about the Sochi Olympics
United States' Ted Ligety celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Hong Zhang of China competes during the Women's 1000m Speed Skating event on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 6
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Hong Zhang of China competes during the Women's 1000m Speed Skating event on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19: Sami Jauhojaervi of Finland celebrates as crosses the line to win the gold medal with team mate Iivo Niskanen of Finland (not pictured) ahead of Nikita Kriukov of Russia (R) in the Men's Team Sprint Classic Final during day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Cross-Country Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 12
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19: Sami Jauhojaervi of Finland celebrates as crosses the line to win the gold medal with team mate Iivo Niskanen of Finland (not pictured) ahead of Nikita Kriukov of Russia (R) in the Men's Team Sprint Classic Final during day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: (L-R) Tobias Wendl, Natalie Geisenberger and Tobias Arlt of Germany react after a run during the Luge Relay on Day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Luge - Winter Olympics Day 6
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: (L-R) Tobias Wendl, Natalie Geisenberger and Tobias Arlt of Germany react after a run during the Luge Relay on Day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11: Natalie Geisenberger of Germany in action during the Women's Luge Singles on Day 4 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Luge - Winter Olympics Day 4
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11: Natalie Geisenberger of Germany in action during the Women's Luge Singles on Day 4 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Sweden's Charlotte Kalla (C) skis next to Norway's Marit Bjoergen (rear) during the women's skiathlon event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)
Sweden's Kalla skis next to Norway's Bjoergen during the women's skiathlon event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor
Sweden's Charlotte Kalla (C) skis next to Norway's Marit Bjoergen (rear) during the women's skiathlon event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS SPORT SKIING)

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