Sochi 2014: Report February 14

Friday, 14 February 2014

LIzzy Yarnold

ALL THE NEWS, ACTION AND REACTION LIVE FROM SOCHI 2014 AS IT HAPPENS!

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

Goodnight!

00:48
It's been a blast today and will be again tomorrow with all the action, as ever, to be covered on the insidethegames blog. See you tomorrow!

00:40 Join us tomorrow morning for the second half of Sochi 2014. Seven more gold medals up for grabs - in ski jumping, skeleton, alpine skiing, speed skating and cross country as well as two in short track.

After a first gold for Great Britain as well as two for Switzerland and Belarus and a figure skating one for Japan, you can see the latest medals table here as Germany's lead is cut slightly by the Swiss charge. 

00:15 Some good news on the twitter front to end on as well!! Claudia Bokel has tweeted...(see 17:38)

twitter logoHappy Valentine's Day! #IOCAC #Sochi2014
- IOC Athletes' Commission Claudia Bokel getting ready to go to the party in the Olympic Village tonight perhaps? This picture suggests so...

Claudia Bokel with her Valentines Day hat ©TwitterClaudia Bokel with her Valentines Day hat ©Twitter



00:10 It ends with some interesting news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has attended both the USA and Canada houses here in Sochi tonight. That news has some interesting political overtones so stay tuned to insidethegames for a report to follow.

23:59
So the end of another day here in Sochi. 

23:52 And it was a thrilling evening session in curling. Great Britain fighting back to beat Denmark 8-6, China winning 7-5 over Norway and Germany edging Switzerland 8-7. But in terms of the home fans it was all about the other match as Russia won 7-6 over the US.

23:40 A few other results to bring you before we wrap up for the evening in Sochi. 

A 6-1 win for a rampant Finland over Norway while Canada even more comfortable in beating Austria 6-0.

In ski jumping Kamil Stoch of Poland led the way in qualifying for the large hill event ahead of two Germans in Severin Freund and Marinus Kraus.

23:38 It has been another thrilling evening in Sochi. As well as the gold medals for Japan, Great Britain and Belarus over the last couple of hours, we had two victories for Switzerland earlier as they rose to second in the medals table. 

Hanyu wins in figure skating

Yuzuru Hanyu won the gold medal for Japan ©AFP/Getty ImagesYuzuru Hanyu en route to the gold medal for Japan ©AFP/Getty Images



Sochi 2014 gold medal
23:07
Yuzuru Hanyu has done enough and the Japanese skater wins the gold medal. Neither Leibers nor Brown got close and the minor medals go to Patrick Chan of Canada and Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.

22:51
Peter Liebers of Germany and Jeremy Brown of the US are still to come - but were fifth and sixth respectively after the short programme so are unlikely to trouble the podium positions.

22:50
Yes he has, 178.10 in the free skate leave him still well adrift of Hanyu. Second place for the Canadian.

22:49
But it is anything but flawless from Chan as well. He smiles, but has he missed out on gold?

22:44
Triple reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada is now on the ice. It was not the perfect performance from the Japanese skater and Chan senses a gold medal here...

22:41
But not any more. Solid if not spectacular from Yuzuru Hanyu and the Japanese star goes in front. 178.64 he scored for the free skate.

Hanyu's total score is 280.09 and that will take some beating. Almost 25 points ahead of Tan...

22:37 In case you are wondering, there has been no change in the figure skating. Daisuke Takahashi of Japan is only good enough for fourth place. Denis Tan of Kazakhstan still leads.

Super Tsuper takes aerials gold

Alla Tsuper of Belarus wins one of the most thrilling events on the Winter Olympic programme ©AFP/Getty ImagesAlla Tsuper of Belarus wins one of the most thrilling events on the Winter Olympic programme ©AFP/Getty Images



22:25 Sochi 2014 gold medalThe women's aerials gold medal has been won by Alla Tsuper of Belarus. Xu Mengtao of China takes silver and bronze goes to Lydia Lassila of Australia.

Hard to keep up with the action at the moment but over in the freestyle skiing Belarus win their third gold medal of the Games, and second of the day.

This is the fifth Olympic Games for the 34-year-old but a first medal. Her previous best was fifth at Nagano 1998 - when she was representing her country of birth Ukraine. 

Men's figure skating

22:21
Javier Fernandez of Spain has just moved into second place. Slightly worse free skate score than Machida of Japan but good enough to pip him for overall second place behind Denis Tan of Kazakhstan.

The action doesn't come quite as fast as the skeleton. It's less of a blink and you miss it zoom down a mountain and more a measured approach. But, like in the skeleton, one mistake can still cost you Olympic gold.

500 medals for Russia!

22:15
Britain, meanwhile, are now the only country to have won skeleton medals on all four occasions it has been on the programme - while, following Amy Williams victory at Vancouver 2010, it is the second time Britain has won the same event at two successive Winter Olympics.

John Curry and Innsbruck 1976 and then Robin Cousins at Lake Placid 1980 in the men's figure skating being the first example. And what a link that is back to tonight's finale...

22:14
No wonder she looked nervous afterwards - that bronze medal for Elena Nikitina was Russia's 500th Olympic medal in Summer and Winter Games combined!! The Russian is also the youngest ever women's skeleton medal winner.

Figure skating men's free programme


22:11 Six competitors are left to take to the ice - and they include the two favourites in Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Patrick Chan of Canada.

22:06 Denis Tan of Kazakhstan is in the lead. In fact, it is an all Asian top three at the moment with Tatsuki Machida of Japan second and Yan Han of China third.

But some heavyweight contenders are still to come.

22:01 See the insights of Philip Barker (at 20:57) for what the medal means for Britain, but for now we are going to focus on the end of the figure skating.

Skeleton reaction

21:53 
It is fair to say journalists were not allowed the best position following the skeleton but the angle did allow a wonderful view of the emotions of each athletes as they awaited the presentation of flowers.

Nervous excitement from Nikitina as she waved and encouraged the vocal home support. Sheer elation from Pikus-Pace as she finally netted an Olympic medal after years of misfortune.

And from the winner Lizzie Yarnold? Nothing but beaming smiles.

The presentation of flowers following the skeleton ©ITGThe presentation of flowers following the skeleton ©ITG

Fantastic home support for bronze medal winner Elena Nikitina ©ITGFantastic home support for bronze medal winner Elena Nikitina ©ITG


21:43
We're also getting towards the sharp end of the men's figure skating. There are five men left to skate their free programme, before leader Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan is followed by second-placed Patrick Chan of Canada.

21:39 The women's aerials finals are up and running. Twelve women are going for gold, including three from China and three from Australia.

Final run of women's skeleton

21:33
That's Britain's first gold of these Games, and their 10th in Winter Olympic history. The United States jump the Netherlands to move into fourth in the medals table, tied with Norway, with that silver.

Sochi 2014 gold medal21:32
Britain's Lizzy Yarnold follows in the footsteps of countrywoman Amy Williams to win skeleton gold. She beats America's Noelle Pikus-Pace by almost a second. Russia's Elena Nikitina is third.

21:29
It's the lead for Noelle Pikus-Pace, holding a 0.44sec advantage. Lizzy Yarnold the final runner for Great Britain.

21:28 
Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States begins her run.

21:26
Three Russians and two American's among the final six lugers. Britain's Lizzy Yarnold goes last, of course. Elena Nikitina of Russia takes the lead by 0.04sec. Two to go.

21:22
There it goes again - Katie Uhlaender of the US this time.

21:18
Huge roars as the first of the three Russians - Maria Orlova - takes to the ice, and takes the lead! Really need to stop getting excited about the lead changing as it will continue to happen over the next few minutes - with sliders going in reverse order and combining their times from the three previous runs.

21:16
I am getting ahead of myself because Germany do now have the lead courtesy of Anja Huber... But the sliders are coming thick and fast and Sarah Reid of Canada has now taken over.

21:13
Flock was tenth after the third run. Next up is Sophia Griebel of Germany but her time is only good enough for second. We will not have an eighth German gold tonight. Or not in the skeleton, anyway...

21:10
Janine Flock of Austria takes over at the top of the leaderboard. The press room is emptying rapidly as journalists scurry off to the finish line. 

Supporters, mainly British ones, in excited mood as the skeleton gets underway ©Philip BarkerSupporters, mainly British ones, in excited mood as the skeleton gets underway ©Philip Barker



21:06
Katherine Eustace of New Zealand ties with Melissa Hollingsworth for the early skeleton lead. What is it with ties at Sochi 2014? 

21:03
Definitely time for a curling results check as the skeleton suspense grows. And Britain are fighting back to 6-6 now with Denmark. The United States, China and Germany all hold narrow leads in the three other matches.

And Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic has leap-frogged Jeremy Abbott and taken the figure-skating lead.  Kevin Reynolds of Canada lies third.

21:02
Six sliders have gone so far and Melissa Hollingsworth of Canada leads. She stops the clock at 58.15 seconds.

Guess who? insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker is here for the skeleton

philip barker
20:57
 "If Yarnold wins tonight it will be Britain's second ever Winter Olympic gold won on Valentines Day - after Torville and Dean at Sarajevo 1984. It will also be Britain's tenth Winter Olympic gold and mean they have an equal number of male and female Winter Olympic champions."

20:52
We are underway in the final round of the women's skeleton. Competitors take to the ice in reverse order, of course, so it will be a while before we see the medal contenders...

Action away from the skeleton

20:48
And we are also away in the large hill ski jumping qualification. Makes skeleton seem like walking through a door in the fear stakes this one. Michael Hayboeck of Austria is the early leader...

20:45
We also had freestyle skiing aerials qualification earlier. The Australians will not be happy at the thought of an impending British victory, but their girl Lydia Lassila led the way in that event and was the only athlete to break the 90 points score barrier.

Xu Mengtao of China was second with another Australian in Laura Peel qualifying third.

20:43
Abbott was marked down last night after falling but superb today. Unlikely to hold on and win a medal with so many big names to come but can consider himself very unlucky.

He scored 160.12 for his free skate - a mark which no one else has got close to.

20:41
Jeremy Abbott of the US has taken the lead in the figure skating ahead of Jorik Hendrickx of Belgium and Misha Ge of Uzbekistan.

20:40
Lots else going on in Sochi this evening - further up the mountains as well as back down at the coast.

Skeleton finale

20:35
Further down the field we have another Britain in Shelly Rudman and Canada's Melissa Hollingsworth - the silver and bronze medal winners from Turin 2006 - but they will not be repeating that success this time around - they lie 13th and 16th respectively.

20:28
But there are plenty of other stories among the athletes chasing the medals tonight. Not least, US slider Noelle Pikus-Pace. Despite two world titles, she has not had much Olympics luck - missing Turin 2006 after being injured by a stray bobsleigh while crossing the track, before finishing fourth at Vancouver 2010.

Since then the 31-year-old has retired and made a comeback - but she is poised to win a first Olympic medal tonight.

20:25
A former heptathlete, Yarnold was introduced to Skeleton by the UK Sport "Girls4Gold" talent search and, after joining the British squad in 2010, has never looked back.

The parents of Lizzie Yarnold look nervous but excited as their daughter powers towards Olympic gold ©Getty ImagesThe parents of Lizzie Yarnold look nervous but excited as their daughter powers towards Olympic gold ©Getty Images



20:23 Lizzie Yarnold takes time to smile to the cameras and whisper "Happy Valentines Day" in what must be surely the most pressured moments of her young life. She will certainly spread the love in Britain tonight if she holds on in her final run...

20:19 This is Great Britain's moment in Sochi as the nation seems set for their third Winter Olympic gold medal of the latest millennium. But the excitement seems to be affecting their male curlers - who are 5-1 down to Denmark after five ends. 

Russia and China leading the US and Norway respectively and its 3-3 between Switzerland and Germany in the other matches currently on the ice in a sport where there always seems to be action taking place. Apparently handball is the same in this way at the Summer Olympics...

20:12 Beautiful scenes under floodlights out on the skeleton course. Certainly not a sport designed for journalists scampering up the hill to try and capture a quick glimpse of the action before scurrying back to the comforts of the press room

But it is certainly worth it just for the speed and sense of excitement out on the course.

Cameraman have the perfect position under floodlights at the top of the course ©ITGCameraman have the perfect position under floodlights at the top of the course ©ITG

An action shot, well almost, as Elena Nikitina of Russia zooms down the course ©ITGAn action shot, well almost, as Elena Nikitina of Russia zooms down the run ©ITG



The super fast skeleton course at the Sanki Sliding Centre ©ITGThe super fast skeleton course at the Sanki Sliding Centre ©ITGOne of the most international-looking stands seen so far at Sochi 2014. The Russians remained the loudest ©ITGOne of the most international-looking stands seen so far at Sochi 2014. The Russian fans remained the loudest ©ITG

Figure skating free programme

20:04
But there is plenty of action going on elsewhere this evening. It may be lacking the special something for the home fans that Yevgeny Plushenko would have provided. But we are set for a Yuzuru Hanyu versus Patrick Chan battle royale later on.

In the early stages it is Ukraine's Yakov Godorozha who leads. But he was only 21st after the short programme so will not stay there for long.

Women's skeleton 

19:59
But the loudest cheers, perhaps unsurprisingly, are for the Russians Elena Nikitina and Olga Potylitsina. Potylitsina posted the second fastest time of the round to rise to fourth place as deafening chants of "Olga Olga" echoed down the course.

19:57
Another superb run and course record for Lizzie Yarnold in the third of four runs in the skeleton. 57.91 seconds. The pressure is certainly not getting to her and it will take a catastrophe now for the gold medal not to go to Great Britain for the second Games in a row.

19:49 Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain will hold a 0.78 second lead over Noelle Pikus-Pace of America ahead of the final skeleton runs later. Russian Elena Nikitina lies third.

Brazilian shows Olympic spirit

Brazil's Joselane Santos in the women's freestyle skiing aerials ©AFP/Getty Images

19:46
Brazilian freestlye skier Joselane Santos was full of joy and emotion after completing her jump in the aerials earlier. The crowd cheered her as though she had won the gold - she finished down in 20th place. Surely what the Olympics is all about?

Nick ButlerNick Butler
insidethegames reporter at the Sanki Sliding Centre

19:33
A much simpler journey to the Sanki Sliding Centre than to the biathlon yesterday, although I did slightly miss the lack of cable-car transfer up the mountain. it's also a very different atmosphere in the press centre to the biathlon awash with British and American journalists eagerly anticipating some medal in the women's event later on. But there is also plenty for home fans to cheer after Alexander Tretiakov leads at the halfway point of the skeleton.

The sounds of Example's Changed the Way you Kissed Me is blaring out in true Valentine's Day fashion on the loudspeakers and - on that note - it seems time to investigate the course.

Be my Valentine


19:20 An update to our item about the Valentine's Day party being organised in the Olympic Village tonight (16:42). insidethegames has now been given an exclusive sneak preview of the heart-shaped hats everyone attending will be given. Sexy, eh?

Xenia Reizhevskaya sports the Valentine's Day hat

19:14 It's the men's singles programme at the Iceberg Skating Palace. After that world record score yesterday by Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu in the short programme, only Patrick Chan of Canada can realistically challenge him for gold. Japan have yet to win a gold at these Games.

Sochi 2014 gold medal19:08 Gold in the women's 15km individual biathlon goes to Darya Domracheva of Belarus. She adds to her pursuit victory on Tuesday, and betters her bronze in the individual in Vancouver four years ago. Switzerland continue their good showing on day seven of the Games, with Selina Gasparin winning silver. Domracheva's countrywoman Nadezhda Skardino takes the bronze.

©Twitter"I'll never stop pushing myself past my limits, but the mistakes that come with it are hard to swallow. #frustrationstation"
- Defending combined Olympic gold medallist Bode Miller, of the United States, on his frustrating 6th place finish today in Sochi.

18:49 Pursuit gold medallist Darya Domracheva crosses the finish line with a time of 43 mins 19sec - that's the one they all have to beat.

18:44 Darya Domracheva of Belarus leads in the women's 15km biathlon, having missed just one target in four rounds of shooting.

18:40 It's not quite as quick, but Alexander Tretiakov's 56.04, just a tenth shy of his own skeleton track record, sees him extend his advantage over second-placed Latvian Martins Dukurs to 0.56 seconds. With American John Daly a further second back, it will almost certainly be between the Russian and the Latvian tomorrow as they go for gold in the final two runs.

18:36 Russian Alexander Tretiakov, who set a track record in his first skeleton run, is about to go again in front of a buoyant home crowd. Let's see what he can do this time.

When should you stop funding a sport?

18:29 As Great Britain prepares to celebrate a likely Olympic gold medal in Sochi later, David Owen has written a thought-provoking blog asking whether it's right for UK sports policymakers to chase medals, and pull funding for sports where medals are a dim hope.

British skeleton star Lizzy Yarnold, who leads after two of four runs at the Sanki Sliding Centre, has benefited from money that sees her sport the most financially supported by UK Sport of all Winter disciplines

Swiss flag
18:20 With Switzerland winning two out of two golds today in Sochi, we thought it was only right we unfurled the Swiss flag. They now sit second in the medals table, with five golds and a bronze. See the full table here.

Britain's curlers breaking records

18:15 Team GB's women's curling team played their fifth match against Japan today, winning 12-3. They stole a five in the seventh end to seal the game. The steal for five equalled the Olympic record and saw them become the first women's team to achieve this feat.

This is Team GB's second Olympic record of the week, after the six points scored in the men's Great Britain versus Switzerland match equalled the lowest in a men's Olympic curling match.

Don't you feel better now you know that?

18:07 We also have our first bit of aerials action in Sochi, with the women's qualification competition underway. The gold medal will be awarded later today.

18:05 The women's 15km individual biathlon has begun, defending Olympic champion Tora Berger of Norway is in this one.

VIDEO: Torvill and Dean recreate historic Bolero routine in Sarajevo

As we reported earlier (see 10:02) Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean have celebrated the 30th anniversary of their historic Olympic gold medal by recreating that "perfect" Bolero routine. And here it is.



But at least we've always got Sepp...

twitter logoAnother sensational performance from @dariocologna. 2 Golds! What an Olympics you're having!
- FIFA President Sepp Blatter celebrates another Swiss victory at Sochi 2014 with his 521,000 followers on Twitter

Claudia, Claudia. Where are you?

17:38
 What has happened to IOC member Twitter gold medallist Claudia Bokel? Normally the most prolific of anyone in the IOC, we haven't heard from the chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission yet today. Claudia, if you are reading this, can you let us know that you are okay?

New Tokyo Governor to meet Bach

17:27
It's been largely about the sport today but some brief Tokyo 2020 related news as newly elected Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe announces that he will attend the Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony here next week - and in doing so meet IOC officials including President Thomas Bach. Read our report here.

Skeleton appeal rejected

17:21
Staying with the skeleton, ahead of the conclusion of the women's event this evening officials have rejected a protest from the Australian team that the Russians have been unfairly monopolising the practice facilities at the sliding centre,

The Australian protested against the host nation not allowing other athletes to practise their start on the push track and, if successful, third-placed Olga Nikitina, fifth-placed Olga Potylitsina and sixth-placed Maria Orlova could all have had their results affected.

But the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) said the push track did not come under their control - therefore allowing the Russians to continue to exclude other athletes.

Britain's Lizzy Yarnold holds the lead after the first two runs of the competition yesterday with Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States in second. 

17:10
Dukurs and Tretiakov took silver and bronze in Vancouver 2010 behind Canadian Jon Montgomery - who said yesterday that he is 99 per cent certain that he is retiring following his failure to qualify for Sochi.

Dukurs has won the last five World Cup series as well as the 2011 and 2012 World Championships. But Tretiakov beat him at the 2013 World Championships in St Moritz and is doing so again so far here.

17:05 Martins Dukurs of Latvia is second with Matthew Antoine of the US third.

17:00 Ahead of the conclusion of the women's skeleton later on, the first heat of the men's event has already got going and Alexander Tretiakov of Russia is fastest so far - he clocks a track record 55.95 seconds...

16:57 Lots to look forward to on the rest of day seven in Sochi. But first those curling results from earlier on. China beat South Korea 11-3, Denmark beat the US 9-2 and Russia beat Switzerland 6-3. As we told you earlier, Great Britain also won 12-3 over Japan.

Quote graphic"He is like a bottle of fine win. I guess he gets better with age."
- Czech Republic ice hockey coach Ted Nolan on 42-year-old star player Jaromir Jagr after he inspired his team to a 4-2 win over Latvia earlier - his 25th Olympic match would you believe it.

Ice hockey showdown

16:44
Big game just starting in ice hockey: Sweden versus Switzerland in a repeat of the 2013 World Championship final. 

Sweden won 5-1 on that occasion but, given Swiss success this afternoon, I would not want to be in Swedish skates right now. The Swiss may as well have substituted the team talk for a television showing the cross country and super combined. 

0-0 in the first period at the moment.

The Swiss players skate onto the ice ahead of their showdown with Sweden ©Getty ImagesThe Swiss players skate onto the ice ahead of their showdown with Sweden
©Getty Images



Love is in the air...

16:42
Sochi 2014 organisers are organising a special Valentines Day party in the Olympic Village tonight.

Workers have spent the best part of Friday hanging love-themed paintings and flowers and erecting plastic trees with bright red heart-shaped balloons, a love gate and a love post where athletes can leave messages for each other. Everyone who attends the party gets a heart-shaped hat.

One person who will not be going, however, is Ukrainian figure skater Dmirti Dun. "I have a wife who I am pretty sure would not want me going out there," he admitted.

Super combined slalom

16:40
So, Switzerland now flying high in second place on the medals table. Five golds and one solitary bronze - so like Germany a huge percentage of their medals are golden.

Sandro Viletta wins the second Swiss gold medal in virtually an hour  ©AFP/Getty ImagesSandro Viletta wins the second Swiss gold medal in virtually an hour
©AFP/Getty Images


Sochi 2014 gold medal16:22
It is another Swiss gold. What an afternoon for them. Sandro Viletta wins the super combined title.

Ivica Kostelic takes silver and Christof Innerhofer of Italy the bronze.

16:18
Downhill gold medal winner Matthias Mayer of Austria is well of the pace in the slalom - and move down to 12th overall. Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic goes sixth.

16:12
Aksel Lund Svindal up next - but only good enough for equal sixth for the Norwegian. It's looking like a wonderful couple of hours for Swiss sport could be crowned with another gold medal in a few moments time... 

16:10
But it is the briefest of visits to the silver medal position for Innerhofer as Croat Ivica Kostelic goes quicker but not as quick as Villeta. He seemed to lose a bit of speed in the middle of course - but still in second at the moment.

16:08
Christof Innerhofer of Italy goes into second place. 51.37 for the slalom.

16:05
It's been a good afternoon so far for Switzerland and it could be about to get even better. Another decent effort by a Swiss there in the shape of Carlo Janka - but only good enough for fourth at this stage.

16:03
Zampa and Viletta are the only men to have broken the 51 second barrier so far in the slalom, and they are rewarded with second and first respectively on the overall leaderboard. But some big names still to come...

15:59
Defending champion Bode Miller of the US has just slotted into third - with compatriot Ted Ligety down in a disappointing sixth place. 

15:57
But not for long. He may have been slower than the Slovak in the slalom section but Sandro Viletta of Switzerland is now over a second ahead when the downhill is taken into account. 

And that is what matters in the super combined.

15:54
 Adam Zampa of Slovakia clocks 50.11 in the slalom to take the overall lead. 

Curling score update

15:48 
OK. We are going to be focusing on super combined for a while now but before that - the customary curling update. We're into the business ends of the seventh set of round robin matches on the women's side. China are 6-3 up on South Korea, Denmark now up 6-2 on the US, Russia are leading Switzerland 4-2 and a rampant Great Britain have just won - 12-3 over Japan.

A busy afternoon - as ever - in the curling ©Getty ImagesA busy afternoon - as ever - in the curling ©Getty Images



15:42 Battling valiantly in the cross country was Dachhiri Sherpa of Nepal who may have been the last to finish in the 15km classic race this afternoon - in 86th place and some 17 minutes behind the winner - but his a story is a remarkable one illustrating all the true Olympic values. Read more about him in an insidethegamesarticle ahead of the Games.

15:37 By insidethegames' reckoning, there are now eight athletes who have won two gold medals at Sochi 2014 and six of them are male.

Martin Fourcade of France in the biathlon and Swiss cross country skier Dario Cologna, as we just saw, have taken two individual victories.

Natalie Geisenberger, Felix Loch and the doubles pair of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt all took German luge gold before teaming up to win the relay, and Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have secured team and pairs gold for Russia in figure-skating.

15:35 That could all change though this afternoon - the conclusion of the super combined is up next.

Second gold for Cologna

15:32
Cologna's victory means that the medals table consists of a five nation peloton - of Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, the US and Switzerland - all on four gold medals and chasing the German breakaway which remains three gongs ahead.

The latest medals table can be seen here.

Dario Cologna slides to his second gold medal of the Games ©AFP/Getty ImagesDario Cologna slides to his second gold medal of the Games ©AFP/Getty Images



15:23 Sochi 2014 gold medal
We have known is really for a while but Dario Cologna of Switzerland has now been confirmed as the winner of the 15km classic cross country.

It is a Swedish 2-3 as Johan Olsson and Daniel Richardsson take silver and bronze. 

More training injury news

15:15
 Snowboarder Helene Olafsen sustained a cut forehead after crashing on the first day of training for the women's snowboard cross event today. Olafsen tumbled after landing awkwardly from a jump and was taken off the course on a stretcher.

"She went a little sideways and got a little off balance," Norweigian coach Ross Hindman said afterwards. "She has a contusion on her forehead, a little bit of strain in her neck, but no concussion - she is awake and talking."

It was the same section of the course that received criticism in the slopestyle earlier in the week for being too dangerous. That all seems a long time ago now. 

15:12 Meanwhile, in the curling Britain have stole the hammer to go 5-2 up over Japan. China are 3-2 up over South Korea, Denmark 4-1 ahead over the US and Russia and Switzerland locked at 2-2.

Men's 15km classic cross country

15:10
Athletes are still out on the course but Cologna looks set to become only the third man to defend the 15km classic title. It would also be the fourth Swiss gold of Sochi 2014!

15:05
Johan Olsson of Sweden dips under the 39 minute barrier by two seconds and goes into second place. And another Swede, Daniel Richardsson, is now third. Niskanen of Finland is pushed down into fourth.

15:02
Dario Cologna of Switzerland has taken the lead. Superb stuff and he stops the clock at 38 min 29.70 sec. 

It's been a thrilling ride, but is it time for UK Sport's policymakers to rein in their medal lust?

14:59 Ahead of Great Britain - possibly - winning a gold medal in the skeleton later on this afternoon, our latest insidethegames blog by David Owen considers UK Sport funding. It can be read here. 

14:56 Alexander Bessmertnykh of Russia slots into second place at the finish some 30 seconds behind the Finn. 

Iivo Niskanen nears collapse at the finish line of the cross country as he takes the early lead ©AFP/Getty ImagesIivo Niskanen nears collapse at the finish line of the cross country as he takes the lead ©AFP/Getty Images



14:50 This really is a brutal event as the Finn collapses in sheer exhaustion after a superb effort. All the others in the top 20 through the 8km check point have yet to finish. 

14:48 And now Niskanen has finished his run - with the start being staggered as is the norm in classic events - he clocks 39 min 8.70 sec. 

An early marker that will take some beating.

14:46 Most of the field are now through the 8km mark as well. Cologna has nicked the lead from Niskanen by 0.7 of a second. After 19 minutes of skiing! Johan Olsson of Sweden goes through in third. 

14:40 Finland's Iivo Niskanen leads through the second checkpoint of the cross country, at 5km, with Swiss favourite Dario Cologna going through in second.

14:38 We are also back underway in women's curling where China, Denmark and Russia are leading South Korea, the US and Switzerland respectively. Japan and Great Britain are exchanging early blows in the other match - its currently 2-2.

14:35 Still early stages in the 15km classic cross country where Dario Cologna of Switzerland is the defending champion and is chasing his second gold of the Games.

Jamaican bobsleigh update

14:33 
Winston Watts, the pilot in Jamaica's two-man bobsleigh, is among the most quotable of athletes at these Winter Olympics and has been holding court at the end of today's practice session.

Quote graphic
"We are as serious as athletes as the Swiss, Germans and Canadians. We are not a bunch of jokers. The fact that we are here means a lot to Jamaica, even if in my country we have ice only in refrigerators. We came here as an underdog. We are hungry men, and hungry men are angry."
- Jamaica's Winston Watts in typically bullish form when speaking today.

14:30
So, after a relatively sedate couple of hours on the sporting front, with ample opportunity for the insidethegames team to grab a sport of lunch and catch up with the other rigours of our Olympic coverage, the afternoon session is underway in earnest. 

And do not go away because it is going to be a good one.

VIDEO: IOC President Thomas Bach praises "fantastic" Sochi atmosphere



14:20 In the men's ice hockey, the Czech Republic powered to a 4-2 win over Latvia.

14:18 Four women's round robin matches in the curling are up and running. The United States are playing Denmark, with Great Britain facing Japan, Korea playing China and Russia doing battle with Switzerland.

14:15 The men's 15km cross country has started up at the Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Centre. Ninety-two going for gold in this one, the first of six to be one today.

Injured Australian snowboarder update

14:09 Here is an update to a story we brought you yesterday about Australian snowboarder Matthew Robinson seriously injured in an accident while competing at the International Paralympic Committee Adaptive Snowboard World Cup Finals in La Molina, Spain. He has had surgery in Barcelona and is reportedly awake and responsive. But he remains critical. For full story read here

twitter logoHappy Valentine's Day! Canadian xc skiers hit the start line again today...send them some love! @CBCOlympics @cccski
- IOC Athletes Commission member and Salt Lake City 2002 gold medallist Beckie Scott encouraging Canada to use the power of Valentines Day to help them to victory

Valentines Day love


13:09 We will be bringing all the Valentines Day reaction from Sochi - along with everything else - throughout the day.

And the big news from the press briefing which we failed to bring you earlier was that Sochi 2014 spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina had a Valentines Card waiting for her on her desk when she walked in this morning. Who was it from I wonder? 

13:02
Equaliser for Latvia - 2-2 with the Czech Republic with much criticism of the officials currently ongoing.

This came after they managed to somehow miss spotting Janis Sprukts opening goal for Latvia. It was eventually awarded however...

The puck apparently bounced off the camera inside the net so was in and out very quickly. 

insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker on Slovenia's green ice hockey kit

philip barker
12:52 Slovenia's ice hockey players have taken the idea of a green Olympics a step further by adopting and adapting the unusual lime green design normally worn by their nation's footballers. 

The colours became well known at the 2010 World Cup in South  Africa, the first time Slovenia had qualified for the tournament by beating of all people Russia.

"It is a different sport but I hope we can shock someone here" said forward Tomas Razinga.

The team wore white trimmed with green for their Olympic debut against the mighty Russians and lost 5-2. They are hoping another kit, blue trimmed in football style with the zig zag design in green will bring them better luck later in the tournament.

The green trimmed kit failed to propel Slovenia to victory over Russia yesterday ©Getty ImagesThe green trimmed kit failed to propel Slovenia to victory over Russia yesterday
©Getty Images



Green is a colour rarely seen on the ice at this level but Canada did wear green at the World Under 20 Championships.

12:42
Czech Republic lost their opener to Sweden but are leading Latvia 2-1 after one period. One of the biggest stars in the game - Jaromír Jágr - scoring the second goal.

Jágr, would you believe it, won a bronze medal 24 years ago at the Bern 1990 World Championships. He is 42 now and still going strong - with one Olympic and two world titles and one of the greatest National Hockey League (NHL) careers in history.

12:35 Ice hockey aside, there is not too much going on at the moment on the sporting side in Sochi. We will keep you entertained with a couple of pictures provided by insidethegames Olympic historian, and part time photographer, Philip Barker. 

Majorettes in the Olympic Park make the most of the beautiful weather ©Philip BarkerMajorettes in the Olympic Park make the most of the beautiful weather
©Philip Barker






The Sochi 2014 polar bear mascot enjoying plenty of attention at the ice hockey ©Philip BarkerThe Sochi 2014 polar bear mascot enjoying plenty of attention at the ice hockey ©Philip Barker

12:15
We are just getting underway in the ice hockey between Latvia and the Czech Republiic while in curling this morning there were wins for Sweden, the US and Canada over China, Germany and Norway respectively. 

Sweden fighting back from that ice hockey injury blow with a fine 6-5 comeback win over the Chinese.

12:10 A blow for Sweden's ice hockey team with the news that Henrik Zetterberg will miss the remainder of the Sochi 2014 because of injury, it has been announced this morning.

12:03 You have to be able to slalom to win this event though. And for that reason you certainly cannot discount the likes of Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, currently sixth, and Croatia's slalom specialist Ivica Kostelic who is one place behind in seventh. 

Defending champion Bode Miller is 12th and has a lot of work to do in his less favoured slalom section if he is to repeat his Vancouver success...

11:58
It is all over in the downhill section of the super combined and as expected the lead is unchanged. First is Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, second is Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic and third is Matthias Mayer of Austria. 

IOC Press Briefing and super combined updates...

11:57
There we go - and I have to say it is testament to how well the Games appear to be going that a press briefing at this stage contained so few critical questions...

11:52
Some doping figures to round off this morning's briefing. There have been 1,507 tests conducted - 1,101 out of competition and 406 in competition. Tickets sales have now passed one million, and IOC President Thomas Bach will be attending cross-country skiing today.

11:48
 Process still going on in re-testing Turin 2006 doping samples. We hope to be able to say more after the Games, but cannot say much due to confidentiality reasons at the moment, explains Adams.  

11:45
Yesterday's bobsleigh injury is being addressed again. It was unrelated to the safety of the course but it is too early to speculate on why the ice maker was still on the track after the warning was sounded, it is explained...

Kjetil Jansrud of Norway stiill holds the super combined downhill lead ©Getty Images

Kjetil Jansrud of Norway still holds the super combined downhill lead ©Getty Images


11:40
Still going in the super combined downhill, by the way, but nobody is getting close to the times of the leaders.

11:38
IOC now providing reassurances on the work being done to ensure water, public transport and other access to local villages. They are getting a lot done in remedying these problems, it is claimed.

11:35
Given the success of the Olympic hub on social media - with 5,000 comments a day being posted by athletes in Sochi - will the same hub be introduced at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games? Discussions are in place and the IOC are confident that it will be, answers Mark Adams.

11:31
Stray dogs-gate just won't go away. Question on whether the centre set up to shelter the animals, financed by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, is just "for show" to appease foreign media. There are lots of other shelters in the city as well," explains Alexandra Kosterina.

11:29
Lots of questions about ice hockey to Chernyshenko this morning. Particularly on the US v Russia rivalry, but don't forget Switzerland, adds Felli. 

11:26
Gilbert Felli admits that the IOC were concerned about whether the atmosphere in the Olympic Park would be good. But they worked very hard in conjunction with the Games organisers and have enjoyed huge success, he adds. 

11:21 
The seemingly daily question on the weather conditions now. And, unsurprisingly, the daily comparison with Vancouver 2010. Sochi 2014 remain "absolutely confident" that the field of play will remain good enough for competition, says Chernyshenko.

11:16
Question on whether these Games are the "best ever?" Cannot answer yet as not finished, says Gilbert Felli. The IOC try to avoid declaring any Games the best ever, adds IOC spokesman Mark Adams. But these Games are excellent so far, it is also said..

11:13
Meanwhile, we are getting towards the end of the downhill part of the super combined. Norway's Kjetil Jansrud still holds the lead. 

11:11
Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko says that he will send Felli a Valentines Day card for his "kind words" before praising both the sport and volunteers so far.

11:09
An update is currently being provided by IOC executive director Gilbert Felli. He is giving a glowing report about virtually all aspects of Sochi 2014.

11:06
 We start this morning's briefing with an update on the injury  to an ice maker on the bobsleigh track. The "operation went smoothly and he is currently stable" explains Sochi 2014 spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina. You can see our article yesterday here.

10:54 Bode Miller goes into 12th. 1 minute 54.67 secs with the lead still unchanged.

twitter logo"Happy Valentines Day, som man ju säger..."
-
First Valentines Day related tweet, and its from Sweden's high jumper turned IOC member Stefan Holm.

10:48 And its poor by Ligety. Only good enough for 14th. 

10:47 Remember we will have the slalom to come to conclude the super combined this afternoon.

10:42
There has still been no change on the leader board in the super combined. Jansrud - Bank - Mayer in that order.

Jansrud's compatriot Aksel Lund Svindal is only good enough for sixth. After missing out on a downhill medal he has head a disappointing Sochi 2014 so far. American Todd Ligety up soon...

Image interlude 

10:34
Once again, a selection of the best photos yesterday posted on instagram.

Evidence that the snow is melting from the British team ©Andrew Young/InstagramEvidence that the snow is melting from British cross country skier Andrew Young ©Andrew Young/Instagram

US fans celebrate their slopestyle clean sweep ©usfreeskiing/InstagramUS fans celebrate their slopestyle clean sweep with typical enthusiasm ©usfreeskiing/Instagram


The fountain in the Olympic Park ©InstagramThe fountain in the Olympic Park ©Instagram

The US in full flow in the ice hockey yesterday
The US in full flow in the ice hockey yesterday ©Amanda Kessel/Instagram



10:30
 Jansrud still leading for Norway in the downhill section of the super combined ahead of Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic and downhill gold medal winner Matthias Mayer of Austria.

Historic day for Russia

10:20
Russia's all time combined medal total for Summer and Winter Olympics is currently 499. What a story it would have been if Plushenko had won the 500th... I will stop blabbering on about that disappointment now, but Russia's best chance today probably comes in the cross country 15km classic race for the likes of Alexander Legkov later on...

Already underway...

10:16
Kjetel Jansrud the early leader for Norway. He sets 1 minute 53.24 for the clubhouse lead.

10:07
Just starting in the super combined but, as ever, it was curling away first this morning. United States 4-2 up on Germany, Canada beating Norway 3-2 and China leading 3-1 over Sweden. 

Anniversary of Bolero


10:02 Fitting in nicely with Valentine Day, the figure skating and a possible first British gold it is also the 30 year anniversary of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean winning the ice dance at Sarajevo 1984. Mike Rowbottom has marked the occasion for insidethegames and you can read his article here.

Preview of day seven

09:55
Even though the attention from the home crowd will be somewhat limited by the withdrawal of Yevgeny Plushenko we also have the free programme of the men's singles figure skating. Canada's Patrick Chan and Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu expected to battle it out...

09:53 The heat will also be on in the skeleton this afternoon - where Britain's Lizzie Yarnold is the leader at the halfway point - while after two golds yesterday we also have chances of more Chinese success in the freestyle skiing aerials. 

09:40
It's hard to emphasise just how warm it is at the moment in Sochi. But the fact that cross country skiers competing at the top of the mountain were complaining about wearing too many layers tells you something...

The weather up the mountains has been getting hotter and hotter over recent days ©Getty ImagesThe weather up the mountains has been getting hotter and hotter over recent days ©Getty Images

09:28
Today it is an early start up at Rosa Khutor with the men's super combined competition brought forward an hour due to the weather. 

Can Bode Miller make up for his disappointment in the downhill? Or will his fellow American Todd Ligety repeat his Turin 2006 triumph?

09:15 Yesterday we brought you yet more German success in the luge, double Chinese gold in two forms of speed skating, a United States clean sweep in slopestyle and wins also for Poland and France. Read more about it here.

09:04 It is another scorcher in the making here in Sochi today and what better setting for a seventh day of top quality winter sport.

09:00  Good morning, happy valentines day, and welcome to the insidethegames live blog.
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