Russian fans will be eagarly anticipating an ice sledge hockey semi-final on day six of the Sochi 2014 Paralympics ©Getty Images


By Nick Butler and Zjan Shirinian
Click refresh for latest updates. All times stated are Russian

22:21 So with that, day six of the Winter Paralympics comes to an end.

We now know our curling semi-finalists, our ice sledge hockey finalists and our three men's slalom gold medallists. You can see how all of today's action has left the medals table here.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be a busy day. Six Alpine skiing sets of medals will be awarded, and snowboarding will make its Winter Paralympic debut, with two finals in snowboard cross. There are also six biathlon finals scheduled.

We'll be back live blogging all the action from 09:00 (05:00 GMT).

Until then, goodnight.

BREAKING: Italian ice sledge hockey player suspended for 18 months after positive test

Igor Stella (left) has been suspended for 18 months after failing a doping test ©Getty ImagesIgor Stella (left) has been suspended for 18 months after failing a doping test ©Getty Images

Igor Stella has been suspended for 18 months after testing positive for anabolic steroid colstebol days before the start of the Winter Paralympics. 

It had been claimed the Italian ice sledge hockey player's positive test came from a cream he was using for the treatment of bedsores.

Full story here.

With the United States remarkably still looking for a first gold from these Games, their ice sledge hockey team could end up with even more pressure on their shoulders come Saturday night.

21:59 All over at the Shayba Arena, and it will be Russia versus the United States in the ice sledge hockey final, after the USA beat Canada 3-0. 

Canada will play Norway for bronze.

21:25 End of the second period in the ice sledge hockey, and the United States remain 3-0 up on Canada.

21:18 The medals have been won in the sitting slalom, but the skiers who finished outside the top 15 earlier are now taking to the course for their second run.

21:10 Back to the Shayba Arena where it's turning into a rout in the semi-final. Joshua Pauls scores to give the United States a 3-0 lead over Canada in the second period.

Sochi 2014 Paralympic gold medal
21:08 Gold for Takeshi Suzuki of Japan. He laid down a huge marker for Dino Sokolovic, who wilted under the pressure. Silver goes to Philipp Bonadimann of Austria, with countryman Roman Rabl taking bronze.

21:07 Disaster for Dino Sokolovic - he crashes out at the top of the course.

21:06 A fantastic run by Takeshi Suzuki - he takes the lead by a thumping 2.68 seconds.

21:05 Takeshi Suzuki of Japan had a little over two tenths on Philipp Bonadimann after the first run. He's now on the course.

21:04 Austrian Philipp Bonadimann is the new leader, with a slender lead of 0.18 seconds over team-mate Roman Rabl.

21:03 It's fourth place for Yohann Taberlet. Three to go.

21:02 Yohann Taberlet of France is on the course.

21:01 Roman Rabl of Austria is one of two skiers from his country in the top five after the first runs.

And he goes top by more than half a second.

20:59 German Thomas Nolte goes top by 0.45 seconds, despite making a mistake midway through his run.

20:56 Taiki Morii leads for Japan with the seven fastest skiers after the first run still to come.

20:50 The course looks like it's getting more and more tricky, with dozens of skiers having taken to it in the last hour.

Both Kurt Oatway of Canada and Heath Calhoun of the United States fail to finish.

20:47 Frederic Francois of France gets the sitting slalom underway.

20:45 In the men's sitting slalom, the top 15 after the first run will go in reverse order. Dino Sokolovic of Croatia is looking to win his country's first medal of these Winter Paralympics, and with a 1.61 second advantage over second-placed Takeshi Suzuki of Japan, he has a great chance of making it gold.

20:41 Standing slalom runs complete - 35 of the 42 skiers made it to the finish line in their second run under the floodlights. Gold was won earlier by Alexey Bugaev of Russia (scroll down to 20:03 for more).

20:34 Five more men still to complete their slalom run in the standing category, then we'll have the final set of medals decided in the sitting category.

20:29 Not time to panic just yet for Canada, but that first period couldn't have gone much worse for them.

The United States' team will surely be licking their lips at the prospect of playing Russia in the final, and avenging their round robin-stage defeat at the hands of the hosts. But they won't be underestimating Canada's ability to mount a comeback. 

20:26 He's on fire - Declan Farmer has scored again to open a 2-0 lead for the United States late in the first period.

20:18 Declan Farmer of the United States opens the scoring in the ice sledge hockey to give his team a 1-0 lead.

20:07 So, following that we will have the final slalom event of the day - in the sitting class - but the second ice sledge hockey semi-final has also begun. The US v Canada. 

20:06 We have been slightly presumptuous with the gold medal icon because we still have all the skiers outside the top 15 from the first run to come. But they will not trouble the podium positions we are sure because they have too much time to make up. 

Sochi 2014 Paralympic gold medal20:03 Alexey Bugaev takes the gold medal for Russia. Russia's day six is getting better and better as the 16-year-old holds his nerve superbly to take his first Parlaympic gold medal. 

In an unchanged top three from the first run Gauthier-Manuel of France takes silver and Alyabyev of Russia the bronze. 

Alexey Bugaev has won Russia's 18th gold medal of these Winter Paralympics ©AFP/Getty ImagesAlexey Bugaev has won Russia's 18th gold medal of these Winter Paralympics ©AFP/Getty Images

20:01 Superb second run by Alexander Alyabyev of Russia to go 2.74sec quicker than Kane. But then Vincent Gauthier-Manuel of France goes quicker again. He leads with just one skier left. 

19:59 Matt Hallatt of Canada is the latest to fail to go quicker, he lies third, but then Grochar's time at the top is finally ended by Toby Kane of Australia. Three skiers left. 

19:56 Grochar, who was only 11th after run one, is guaranteed a top six finish now as he still leads with five to go. Defending champion Adam Hall of New Zealand moves into second place. 

19:52 The new leader is Thomas Grochar of Austria. A handy second run of 52.60 and expect him to rise a good few places with that performance. 

19:48 Andrzej Szczesny of Poland is first up and takes the lead and then holds it as the next three skiers either go slower or fail to finish. 

19:45 We are straight on into the standing event and immediately the crowd noise is much louder as there is no need to be quiet like for visually impaired events. 

Valerii Redkozubov competing in the Super G earlier in the Games ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 Paralympic gold medal19:39 Redkozubov of Russia takes the gold medal. 53.52 by the Russian, quickest in both runs, and he wins overall by three seconds. 

A fine second place by Santacana-Maiztegui after rising from seventh after run one. Just nine hundredths slower than Redkozubov in his second run. Williamson of Canada hangs on for bronze. 

19:37 Just Valerii Redkozubov to go...

19:35 Amazing scenes. Willamson of Canada loses time at the top of the course and cannot go as quick as Santacana-Maiztegui. He lies second. And then Jacub Krako - who lay joint second with Williamson after run one - crashes virtually out of the start gate. 

19:32 Several crashes and then Miroslav Haraus of Slovakia almost follows suit and finishes down in sixth. 

19:27 A much better second run from Spain's downhill champion Yon Santacana-Maiztegui  He stops the clock at 1min 46.82sec. Second is Marc Bathum of the US and third is Maciej Krezel of Poland. 

19:23 Radomir Dudas and Michal Beladic are lying first and second at the moment in a Slovakian 1-2. But both were more than seven seconds off the first run leading pace set by Russian Valerii Redkozubov.

19:19 In the visually impaired event skiers have an option of competing with a guide to help them down the course. Noise is key - with guides communicating with the skiers to guide them. 

19:15 So here we go. The men's visually impaired event. And it is Dmytro Kuzmin of Ukraine who gets us underway. A combined time of 2min 12.81sec and that is not going to stay at the top of the standings for long. 

18:57 Or we will do anyway. There is a short delay at the moment. Only for 15 minutes until 7.15pm we are told. 

18:50 There may be more for the home fans to celebrate in a matter of moments. We have three final runs to come in Alpine skiing men's slalom events. 

There were fans of all ages enjoying Russia's ice sledge hockey success earlier ©Getty Images

18:38 Coming up later on, of course, we also have the second ice sledge hockey semi-final - Canada versus the United States. That one gets underway at 8pm this evening.

The winner of that match will face Russia in the final.

18:32 But there is less than half an hour to wait until there is more medals action on the slopes of Rosa Khutor - with the second runs of the men's visually impaired, standing and sitting events. 

18:25 A quick look at the medals table during the lull in action midway through day six. The only change today has been the decision to award Anna Schaffelhuber the gold medal following her initial disqualification yesterday (scroll down to 14:18 for more details)

Putin reception with the IPC

18:10 We can be fairly confident that President Putin will be attending the ice sledge hockey final now Russia have qualified, but for now he is enjoying a drinks reception with the International Paralympic Committee - including President Sir Philip Craven and vice president Andrew Parsons. 

Some interesting words from Putin there as well as he insists Moscow did not instigate the Crimea crisis and thanks Paralympic leaders for not wading into the tensions over Ukraine.

"I would like to thank you for the Paralympic Games staying out of politics and the complicated circumstances, which you all know about very well, had no impact on the games," Putin said through a translator, alongside International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven.

"And I would like to assure you that Russia did not initiate, it was not an instigator, of these difficult circumstances which you know and we are talking about here."

Russian President Vladimir Putin mingling with the IPC this afternoon ©Getty Images

18:03 We have an hour to wait until the second runs of the three men's slalom event get underway.

17:59 To bring you up to date with the end of the first runs of the Alpine skiing earlier. There was, as predicted, no change at the top of the leader-board as 15 out of 41 skiers failed to finish the gruelling course. 

Sokolovic of Croatia, from Suzuki of Japan and then Bonadimann of Austria. If Sokolovic holds on it will be Croatia's first medal of any colour during Sochi 2014. 

17:54 The two semi-finals will be played on Saturday morning, with the gold and bronze medal matches to come later in the day.

17:48 An amazing finish to the curling - and did we ever expect otherwise - and we have our four qualifiers. Amazingly enough - without the need for a playoff. 

1. Russia 8 wins,1 loss (Qualified for semi-finals)
2. Canada 7-2 (Qualified)
3. China 5-4 (Qualified)
4. Great Britain 5-4 (Qualified)
5. Slovakia 4-5
6. USA 4-5
7. Norway 3-6
8. Sweden 4-5
9. South Korea 3-6
10. Finland 2-7

Wonderful by the host nation to top the table and also by China - both Olympic and Paralympic curling has grown massively in the world's most populated country and they have now made a semi-final at each event. 

Britain are somewhat lucky to go through after that epic comeback earlier followed by a distinctly below par effort this afternoon. They will have to improve a lot if they are going to stand a chance against Russia. And which Canada will turn up against China?

17:43 And there is is. Three Chinese stones in the house and no way back for Britain. So they concede and shake hands. Both sides will progress. 

17:40 So both Britain and China are through. The winners will face table-toppers Russia and the losers will be up against double defending champions Canada. They are still going in the eighth end but it is looking like China for the win.

17:38 So Russia pick up two more points in the final end. They have beaten Slovakia 7-4 in yet another curling fight-back. A disappointing final day for Slovakia sees them miss out on a semi-final place. 

Canada have had a bizarre day of contrasts in curling - a record victory then defeat to the lowest ranked side ©Getty Images

17:31 The answer is just one unfortunately for them this time. So they still trail 6-3 but are still going through as things stand. Finland have beaten Canada by the way, 12-1, and Sweden are 11-3 up on South Korea. 

17:29 What can Briton do in the seventh end this time? They got five this morning against the US... 

17:27 But it means, that at the moment, Britain and China are both heading through. It will change, I warn you...

17:24 This has echoes of a World Cup football final group match where half an eye is on results elsewhere. Britain are still playing poorly and trailing China, but Russia have pulled three back and are now leading Slovakia. It is 5-4 in that match. News is filtering through because one fan has has a radio clasped to his ear. I jest, news is filtering through from the adjacent rink. 

It does not work like that any more in football anyway in this age of smart-phones, thinking about it. 

17:20 Slovakia lead 4-2 over Russia and Britain pull one back but are still 6-2 down against China. 

17:17 Lets get the matches which won't affect qualification out of the way first. Somehow, I'm not sure how, Finland are 12-0 up on Canada. Sweden are also continuing their strong day and they lead South Korea 11-1. It's a pity the Swedes have not being playing like they have today earlier in the competition. 

17:12 Still some skiers out on the course, but we are going to focus on the conclusion of the curling for the time being. 

And what a conclusion it is turning out to be. 

Aleksandr Akhmadulin of Russia is one of many skiers to crash out in the slalom events ©Getty Images

17:07 Things are easier to follow in the skiing. Sokolovic still leads, from Takeshi Suzuki of Japan and Philipp Bonadimann of Austria. Taberlet of France is pushed into fourth place. 

16:59 Slovakia are now leading Russia 3-2 and China are 6-1 ahead of Britain after five ends.

Nail-biting times again in the curling. At the moment, we are heading for a mass play-off, I think anyway...

16:54 China have scored three unanswered points to go 5-1 up over Great Britain in their must-win curling clash. After choosing not to take advantage of the hammer, Britain are full of unorthadox tactics today - and they have drafted in Angie Malone to replace out-of-form skip Aileen Neilson at the halfway stage.

16:48 Dino Sokolovic stops the clock at 52.74 seconds to take the lead. He has been disqualified and crashed out in his two events so far but that was a superb performance. 

16:44 Remember, there are the second runs of all three of these men's slalom events to come later on this evening. Roman Robl of Austria is in second place. 

16:35 Yohann Taberlet of France is the early leader as the slalom event begins. Conditions are still formidable up at Rosa Khutor.

16:29 Sweden are leading South Korea and Slovakia are 2-1 up against Russia at the moment.

16:25 Scarcely believable scenes between Finland and Canada where the Finns have scored five unanswered points. They lead 7-0! They have only won one match so far and Canada are the double defending champions...

16:18 The sitting event is just beginning but back in the curling it is going with the hammer in Great Britain against China. 2-1 after three ends. 

Alexey Bugaev of Russia leads after run one of the standing event ©Getty ImagesAlexey Bugaev of Russia leads after run one of the standing event ©Getty Images

16:07 The conditions made things really tough for those last few standing skiers as the churned up snow made things harder. No change to the top three and Bugaev leads. Russian leads in both slalom events today so far. 

A credible mention for Sadegh Kalhor of Iran who finishes in an impressive 29th place out of the 44 finishers. He is on course to better his 34th place four years ago in Vancouver.

15:56 Still no change at the top of the standing slalom leader-board as we get into the final few competitors in their first run. 

Sweden are having a very good day in curling - they have started as they left off against Norway and moved 3-0 up on South Korea. 

15:50 In the other games, the tournament's bottom ranked side, Finland, have gone 2-0 up on the joint top ranked side, Canada, in the first end. Slovakia lead Russia 1-0 in that more crucial match in terms of qualification while, after each won this morning, Sweden and South Korea are locked at 0-0.

15:47 Strange decision by Britain to not take the hammer after they win the curling equivalent of a toss. Rather like electing to receive instead of serve in tennis. China take advantage to score one point. 

15:43 We are going to flicker between Rosa Khutor and the Olympic Park this afternoon. Bugaev still leads after 17 skiers have gone in the standing first run. After downhill silver, and Super G bronze, this seems like his best chance of gold. 

Still 31 skiers left to go.

15:38 It is the latter two matches which matter in the semi-final qualification stakes. 

1. Russia 7 wins,1 loss (Qualified for semi-finals)
1. Canada 7-1 (Qualified for semi-finals)
3. Great Britain 5-3
4. Slovakia 4-4
4. China 4-4
6. USA 4-5
7. Norway 3-6
8. Korea 3-5
8. Sweden 3-5
10. Finland 1-7

Four teams to go though so Britain are guaranteed a place if they beat China. After that it gets more complicated with Slovakia, China and the US - even though they are not playing this afternoon - still holding chances. 

15:36 After the drama, excitement and suspense of this morning, the final round of wheelchair curling round-robin matches have begun.

Finland v Canada, South Korea v Sweden, Great Britain v China, and Slovakia v Russia.

15:32 Vincent Gauthier-Manuel of France lies second ahead of another Russian in Alexander Albabyev, but there is a long way to go yet. 

15:28 There is another Russian leader so far in the form of Alexey Bugaev. He stopped the clock at 47.69sec

15:25 The second run is coming up later on and we are already straight into the first run of the standing event.

Valerii Redkozubov was the Russian Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony last Friday and he is currently on course for gold ©Getty ImagesValerii Redkozubov was the Russian Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony last Friday and he is currently on course for gold ©Getty Images

15:19 The downhill champion Yon Santacana Maiztegui of Spain is down in seventh place. 

15:15 Chris Williamson of Canada is lying joint second with Jakub Krako of Slovakia - the gold medal winner in the Super G earlier in the Games. 

15:12 But first up today is the men's visually impaired event. Valerii Redkozubov is the leader so far, continuing the good day for the host nation Russia. They are showing themselves to be much more than merely a Nordic skiing power today. 

15:10 Anna Schaffelhuber has already been awarded the women's sitting gold from yesterday following an appeal (scroll down to 14:18 for more info.)

15:07 We are swapping sports on a shift pattern today in Sochi and now it is the turn of slalom skiing - brought forward by an hour to ensure the best of the conditions. 

Russia have guaranteed themselves an ice sledge hockey medal after beating Norway in the semi-final ©Getty ImagesRussia have guaranteed themselves an ice sledge hockey medal after beating Norway in the semi-final ©Getty Images

15:00 Russia will be formidable opponents for whoever they face in the final - out of Canada or the United States who face each other later on today.

Spare a thought for Norway however. They have won a medal at every Paralympic Games where ice sledge hockey has been contested - but they are going to have to beat one of those great powers of the sport in the bronze medal match to continue that run this time around.

14:56 The final buzzer goes and a quite superb victory for Russia. Their ice sledge hockey team was only set up five years ago but, after taking World Championship bronze last year, they are heading for either gold or silver on their Paralympic debut.

Clinical in attack and well organised in possession and defense - pardon the football comparison, but there were shades of Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier this week there from the host nation.

14:53 And there is is. A thoroughly deserved goal for Evgeny Petrov as he strokes the puck into the empty net. 4-0.

14:48 The shot clock is now 19-6 in favour of Russia, so rather befitting the 3-0 scoreline. Norway do have a couple of shots but they have no goaltender and Russia will be sensing opportunities on the break. 

14:40 It is like an exhibition game now, with Russian players even show-boating with the puck. First RU-SI-YA chant of the day and shots are reigning in thick and fast from the men in red. 

They are looking to lay down a marker ahead of the final against either Canada or the US.

Russia celebrate their second goal against Norway ©Getty Images

14:36 And there it is. Nikolay Terentyev scores a lovely goal and Russia have all but secured their first ice sledge hockey Paralympic medal now. They are heading for the final!

14:29 Many more chances for Russia here. Evgeny Petrov is the key man running the show, being involved in everything at the moment. Norway are still struggling to impose themselves. 

14:21 Meanwhile, we are back underway in the third period of the ice sledge hockey

BREAKING: Schaffelhuber awarded slalom sitting gold medal following appeal

Sochi 2014 Paralympic gold medal14:18 Germany's Anna Schaffelhuber has been awarded the gold medal in the women's slalom sitting event after a successful appeal against her disqualification from yesterday's event.

Anna Schaffelhuber has been beletedly awarded her third gold of the Games ©Getty Images

Schaffelhuber, who has already won the downhill and super-G Paralympic titles so far in Sochi, was disqualified from her first run yesterday. Under protest, she was allowed to complete her second run on Wednesday afternoon and was the fastest overall - although she was discounted in the unofficial results which saw compatriot Anna-Lena Forster in the gold medal position.

But the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing Board of Appeal has overturned the original disqualification made by the race jury for not having her outriggers in a stationary and fixed position at the start of the race.

The jury decided that Schaffelhuber had not gained a competitive advantage from her start and therefore should not have been disqualified.

So Schaffelhuber receives gold, Forster the silver and Kimberly Joines of Canada the bronze - with the medals to be presented later on today. 

Ice sledge-hockey semi-final

14:12 End of the second period and it is still 2-0 but Russia remain on top. The shot count is 13-4 in favour of the hosts and they are honing in on a place in the final.

14:07 Norway are playing better defensively here but, as Russia sit back, they are still struggling to pose an attacking threat. 

They really need to get their playmaker Rolf Einar Pedersen more involved in this match. 

14:03 Norway do really well to hang on in the power-play. Russia are linking passes well but not creating the final opportunity so far in the second period. You sense one more goal will put this match to bed.

13:59 That is really sloppy from Norway. One too many players on the ice and that means Russia get another power-play. It was in their last power-play they scored their second...

13:55 Norway are taking the physical approach early in the second period. But Russia are still having chances to move further ahead.

Russia dominated the first period of their semi-final showdown with Norway ©Getty Images

Players back out on the ice for the second period of Russian against Norway. Can the Norwegians find a way back into this semi-final from 2-0 down?

Mira-curl on ice

In case you are just joining us on day six here in Sochi we have already had a stunning morning of curling action. Canada broke their own Winter Paralympic record when beating Slovakia 16-0 before Britain recoved from 6-2 down after six ends to secure a stunning 8-7 overtime win over the US to most probably seal a semi-final slot.

Quote marks"We like to keep everyone on the edge of their seats! An absolutely magnificent team performance, fighting back after that. It just shows the determination and dynamics within the team. As for China, Our aim is to win that game. It wasn't an easy game but we dug deep."
- British curling skip Aileen Neilson following that comeback victory.

13:31 So the buzzer goes at the end of the first period and it could not have gone much better for Russia. The better team on all areas of the ice...and they lead 2-0.

13:28 Brilliant performance so far from the Russians. They are creating chances but also clinically converting them. Remember Russia lost from 2-0 up against South Korea earlier on, but the way things are going so far, that does not seem likely today. 

13:26 Russia score again to move 2-0 up after a beautiful passing move! Alexey Amasov flicks it into the net with the final touch.

13:23 Powerplay for Russia after a Norwegian infringement and a huge shot from range which hits the cross bar. Norway need to just hang on in there at the moment.

Russian fans celebrate their team taking the lead in the Shayba Arena ©TwitterRussian fans celebrate their team taking the lead in the Shayba Arena ©Twitter

13:20 Norway are looking disorganised in defence and Lisov is the man taking advantage. The 22-year-old wants to be the best goalscorer in the sport, and he has started well in that regard today, as he managed another shot which goes narrowly wide. 

13:15 Delirium in the Shayba as Russia score to take a 1-0 lead... Dmitrii Lisov with his second goal of the Games after a textbook Russian counter. A deserved lead all in all. 

13:12 Since that sluggish opening day loss to South Korea, Russia have improved with every game which is ominous for Norway but - the Scandinavian team are in this as well - as they go close with a double shot chance.

13:08 We are expecting a tough and physical match today. Plenty of big hits in the opening stages. Chances also, with Vasilii Varlakov of Russia going closest.

13:08 Ice sledge hockey has been on the Paralympic programme since Lillehammer 1994. Many of the rules and regulations are the same as in ice hockey but instead of skates the competitors use specially designed sledges to move around the ice.

They also have two playing sticks with a spike on one end and a blade on the other - with the dual purpose of propelling the sledges around the ice and controlling and shooting the puck. There is no points classification system in sledge hockey - but all athletes have a lower limb impairment. Technically, teams can include both men and women, but none of the teams in Sochi will have a female player.

Each game is made up of three periods of 15 minutes each and there are 15 players in a team, but only five outfield players and one netminder are allowed on the ice at any time.

13:05 Russia have produced the result of the tournament so far with that shock win over the US on day four. They have enjoyed huge progress in recent years and won a bronze medal at last years World Championships. This is their Paralympic debut. 

But Norway are the Nagano 1998 Paralympic champions and the 2004 world champions, and have won a medal at all five Winter Paralympics where the sport has been contested. Silver on home ice in Lillehammer, gold in Nagano, silver medals at Salt Lake City and Turin and a bronze in Vancouver... Can they continue that run in Sochi?

13:03 So we are all back underway on the sporting front at Sochi 2014. There is a wonderful atmospere in the Shayba Arena for the first of two ice sledge hockey semi-finals so far. 

Twitter2Breaking! #Sochi2014 #Paralympics now sold 307,200 tickets so far. #recordbreaking
IPC communications director Craig Spence hails the success of Sochi 2014 in terms of ticket sales

Work of Kandinsky to highlight Closing Ceremony

12:55 Not that we want to wish these Games away...but a little look ahead to the Closing Ceremony now as we wait for the hockey action to begin.

It has been announced today that the Ceremony will feature "coming to life" paintings by influential Russian artist, Vasily Kandinsky.

In his work, the artist employed abstractionism using visual language of form, color and lines and the early twentieth century painter is credited as being the founder of abstract art, and his work will be brought to life by 462 dancers in vivid costumes during the ceremony.

The work of Russian abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky will highlight the Closing Ceremony on Sunday ©Getty Images
12:47 No Nordic action today and a couple of hours still until the slalom skiing gets underway today but, despair not, because in barely more than ten minutes time we have our first ice sledge hockey semi-final here in Sochi - Russia versus Norway.

Final day of curling round-robin action

12:42 Finland v Canada, Great Britain v China, South Korea v Sweden and Slovakia v Russia are the final four matches, all starting at 15:30 this afternoon. 

Britain are looking like they will join Russia and Canada in the semi-finals. If they lose to China and Slovakia beat Russia they will end up in a play-off, but given their 16-0 loss this morning, it seems hard indeed to see the Slovaks upset the host nation. 

If Britain beat China and Russia beat Slovakia, we could have a three way playoff tomorrow for the fourth place position...between Slovakia, China and the US - although the US have completed their matches so qualification is out of their hands. 

At 10:40 earlier on today we talked about how qualification could pan out if Britain pulled off a "miraculous comeback." We didn't think it would happen then though...

1. Russia 7 wins,1 loss (Qualified for semi-finals)
1. Canada 7-1 (Qualified for semi-finals)
3. Great Britain 5-3
4. Slovakia 4-4
4. China 4-4
6. USA 4-5
7. Norway 3-6
8. Korea 3-5
8. Sweden 3-5
10. Finland 1-7

12:35 One other result to bring you, and it was another comeback win, as South Korea edged out Finland 7-6 so the Finns remain at the bottom of the standings.

12:28 So...we needed a little while to recover after that epic, epic match this morning. One to make you spill your Cornflakes that one for those on earlier time zones. 

"We like to keep people on the edge of their seats," reflects British skip Aileen Nielson afterwards. She is about right there.

Britain's curlers discuss tactics during their epic comeback victory over the US this morning ©Twitter

12:20 And McDonald has made a mess of his final shot. It sails right through the circle so Britain do not need the final shot - they have WON 8-7 after the extra-end. 

12:19 One stone left for each side. You would want to be in the British position right now but with curling you never know. You just never know. 

12:18 Onto the skipper's now. A great effort by McDonald but he only nudges the British stone closer, and now Nielson plays an expert guard shot making is impossible for the US to hit and run onto the British stone.

12:14 This end is ebbing and flowing like only curling can. First Jimmy Joseph plays a lovely takeout to put the US on top before an equally wonderful hit and roll by Jim Gault puts Britain back in the centre.

Both Jim's on top form and, after a fairly poor beginning to this match from the British at least, this is wheelchair curling at its very best now.

And the great thing is, is that the sportsmanship is not receeding despite the tension. Jimmy Joseph tapping Jim Gault on the shoulder in acknowledgement of his good shot there. 

12:10 But a delightful shot by Jim Gault for Britain to nestle the stone in the centre of the circle, and now it is the turn of the US to call a timeout.

12:09 Britain have the hammer in the extra end but after a good takeout the US have three stones in the circle.

12:04 Angie Malone slides her first stone close to the circle for Britain...and a timeout has been called by Britain's Canadian coach Tony Zummack.

12:01 So into the extra end we go. Meanwhile, Sweden have beaten Norway 11-1. It will not be enough to see the Swedes go through but Norway's slim semi-final prospects are now definitely over. 

Still 6-5 to Finland against South Korea. 

11:57 US counterpart Patrick Armstrong was at 84 per cent accuracy earlier on this match. And here he goes - a fast stone which FINDS THE GAP and knocks the British one off the ice, but his stone slips off the ice as well. But wait, there was one other US stone right at the other side, which means they pick up one point. It's 7-7 which can only mean one thing. An extra end. 

Stunning! As good sporting drama as you can possibly get first thing on a Thursday morning!

11:54 Nielson's accuracy had slipped to 23 per cent after six ends but she has fought back brilliantly. Her final stone is a guard to protect the other British one in the circle. There is a slither of a gap for the US to thread, but it is a tiny one. 

Can they find it? One stone left in this match, and perhaps in the whole Paralympics for the US. 

11:52 So, into the final end. The US have the hammer but Britain have the only stone in the circle at the moment and it is almost dead centre. They also have one more stone to throw from skip Aileen Nielson. 

Twitter2Having played some absolute rubbish in the early ends - GBCurlers now seem to be throwing some thronking stones.
-  Four time Olympic rowing champion and former IOC member turned curling guru Sir Matthew Pinsent provides succinct analysis of the British comeback.

11:46 The British fightback really is on now. The whole body language of both teams has changed. How do the US respond to dominating a whole match only to concede five points, not to mention the lead and possibly their semi-final qualification chances, in a single nightmarish end?

How would the Canadians respond, is perhaps the best question for them to think about? Although the Canadians, who beat Slovakia by a Winter Paralympic record margin earlier on today, have almost certainly never conceded five points in one end...

11:43 It is 6-5 to Finland against South Korea so that match is heading for a thrilling conclusion as well - and the Norwegian fightback has begun, or perhaps not, they have pulled one back to make it 9-1 to Sweden. 

11:38 Brilliant shot by Nielson. The final stone rolls against another British one, but ends up closer to the centre but without knocking the first one out of play. So that is five points for Britain. They have done it again in the penultimate end and, would you believe it, they are 7-6 ahead. 

It has been a hashtag I have resolutely avoided using through the Olympics and Paralympics but after that end I really do #lovecurling. Not because I am British, or perhaps a little bit, but mainly because in what sport could a team that has been so under the cosh for a whole match, turn things around so dramatically in a stroke, or rather a roll, of absolute genius?

11:35 Four British stones are in the house and Aileen Nielson has the only shot left to make it five!

11:33 Back in Sochi and the curling and, would you believe it, Britain have a major opportunity to fight back in the seventh end after some strong early shots and some uncharacteristic US errors - the timeout not helping in that regard. 

Qatar to host a World Gymnastics Championship?

Qatar is proposing that the Aspire Dome in Doha host the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships ©Getty Images

11:28 A tactical timeout called by the US team in the seventh end - and it provides a quick opportunity to update you on what else is doing the rounds on insidethegames this morning. 

An exclusive interview from Emiy Goddard with Bruno Grandi, President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), who has said Qatar is "now ready to host a World Championships" in the sport, while reporter Gary Anderson was up in Scotland yesterday to check out progress on the transformation of Glasgow's football cum Commonwealth Games Stadium in Hampden Park. 

We also have a latest blog from David Owen on "A novel that sheds light on the first Olympic women's athletics competition". Read it here

Considering the furore over Qatar being awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, that gymnastics news is very interesting indeed...

canadian-flagThe previous record was set, surprise surprise, also by Canada four years ago in Vancouver when they beat Switzerland 15-1. Canada won both curling and both ice hockey titles at the Olympic Games and could go along way towards securing a similar wheelchair curling/ice sledge hockey double today...

11:23 Slovakia can still qualify for the semi-finals should they beat Russia later on today but they have just been handed the biggest defeat in Paralympic wheelchair curling history.  

11:20 In fact, that resigned acceptance has been taken a step further by Slovakia as they call time on their fruitless quest to upset the double defending champions. Slovakia concede after six ends and they have lost 16-0. 

A look of resigned acceptance on the faces of Slovakian players in the background as they slip 16-0 behind against Canada ©Getty Images

11:16 And the United States have stretched their lead to 6-2 over Britain after taking advantage of holding the hammer in the sixth end. Britain have had some big seventh ends in some of their earlier matches - most notably against South Korea on day two when they scored five points - but they will need their biggest one yet today.

11:12 While the British come back chances are unlikely, the Slovakian and Norwegian ones are now definitively over. A rampant Canada lead 16-0 against fellow medal contenders Slovakia, while Sweden are 9-0 up against Norway. 

11:07 In case you are wondering why there has been no change on the medals table this morning, that is because no medals have been won yet. No Nordic skiing, either of the biathlon or cross-country variety today, while the slalom Alpine medals rush does not begin until this afternoon. 

11:03 It is 5-2 to Finland against South Korea in the match on the ice which we have mentioned the least - because it has the least impact on the qualification places. In the match which has most impact, the US have the hammer and the closest stone to the centre midway through the sixth end, so the British fightback from 5-2 down is still not coming alive. 

10:55 Not enough weight on the final stone from Britain and it falls short. So they do pick up a point, but it is only one and you feel that that will not really be good enough at this stage. The US lead 5-2 with three ends to go. 

10:51 Sweden are now leading Norway 6-0 and, it just gets worse for Slovakia, after five ends it is: Canada 14 Slovakia 0. 

Britain have the hammer in their end, but nothing too obvious on after a couple of quite defensive shots. It has perhaps not quite yet got to the point where they have to absolutely go for broke, but we are getting near that point...

10:47 So, back underway in the fifth end of eight between Britain and the United States. Plenty of fist pumps from the Americans as they surge 5-1 ahead, but can Britain fightback?

The view outside in the Olympic Park as day six dawns in Sochi ©Twitter

10:40 If I have got my maths correct - and it is still too early for me to be particularly confident - the US are guaranteed at least a play-off if they stay ahead and win this match. 

Four wins will also not be enough to secure a semi-final chance, because Britain and China will both be on four wins heading into that match if Britain lose here, so one of them will be on five to join the US in the last four. Although if Britain pull off a miraculous comeback here and beat China as well, and Slovakia also lose both their matches today, the US, Slovakia and China will all be tied in fourth place on four wins apiece. 

Gosh this is complicated...I think I will leave the calculations to the experts. 

10:36 And the US score two more points to lead 5-1 at the halfway interval. Although it could be worse for Britain, they could be Slovakia, who now trail Canada 12-0 after four ends. 

Norway's slimmest of hopes appear to be over - they are 4-0 down to Nordic rivals Sweden - while Finland are now 3-1 ahead of South Korea in the other match currently on the ice. 

10:34 Two poor shots from British skip Ailleen Nielsen and a chance for the US to stretch their lead. Here comes the final stone...

10:32 But back to the matter in hand and both Britain and Slovakia need to find some form in their respective matches. 

10:28 We have got to the point now where an "as it stands" summary in terms of qualifications seems appropriate.  (See our table at the beginning of today's play which was posted at 09:44 to make things a little clearer)

With Slovakia and Britain each trailing it is the US who are in virtual third place with five wins. It is the last match for the US - with Britain and Slovakia having one more to come. Although not an easy match this afternoon for either as the Slovaks face already qualified Russia, and the British are up against qualification rivals China - who are not playing this morning. 

10:24 In the other matches, Sweden are now 3-0 ahead of Norway while it is 2-1 to Finland over South Korea.

Canada meanwhile have scored two more points and lead Slovakia 9-0.

10:21 Britain have the hammer, and manage to get on the scoreboard with one point to make it 3-1 after three ends. But bittersweet for the British because they now lose the hammer and the US will have the advantage of the final stone in the fourth end. 

10:18 The US are continuing their good form as the third end reaches the business end - as a couple of superb guard shots are placed. 

British and US fans together in the curling centre to cheer on their respective teams ©Twitter

10:14 The thing about curling, we have found, is that you do not necessarily need to fully understand the game to appreciate it. It is one of those sports which ebbs and flows and always seems to be bubbling away - but is also capable of providing moments of unbearable tenison...and we expect to see a lot of that today. 

10:11 Just in case you have been in Outer Space, or somewhere other than Sochi or in front of a television screen over the last two months, a reminder of the rules of wheelchair curling - which are fairly similar to the Olympic version.

The main difference is that instead of sliding down the ice the players deliver their stones from stationary wheelchairs.

A 'buddy' system, holding the back of the wheelchair of the curler in play to stop it sliding on the ice. Players can also use a delivery stick to push the stones but sweeping - i.e. using a brush to clean the surface of the ice - is not permitted.

The four players in each team throw two stones during an end with a team scoring one point for each of its stones that are closer to the centre of the rings than any of the opposition's stones. The team with the most points wins the end with a match consisting of eight ends overall.

10:07 And the good start for Canada has just got a whole lot better. Four more stones in the house at the end of the second end and they lead Slovakia 7-0.

Slovakia have been the surprise package of Sochi 2014, and Canada have made a habit of starting slowly and gaining momentum. But not today in either case - a rampant start from the gold medal favourites. 

10:04 The US are looking determined and businesslike, and they have just gone 3-0 up on Great Britain after British skip Aileen Nielsen - the only female skipper in the competition remember - goes agonisingly long with the final stone. 

10:01 The sun is out in Sochi on day six morning - not that this matters in the teams on the sheets in the Curling Centre. 

Canada have made a good start to their match against Slovakia ©Twitter

09:56 Meanwhile, there have been scores everywhere to start the day. It may be a more important match for the Slovaks than the Canadians but the latter have made the better start and moved 3-0 ahead in that match. 

It is also 2-0 to Sweden against Norway, while Finland lead South Korea by a similar scoreline. 

09:50 This all means that the match between Britain and the US is absolutely vital. 

Taking advantage of holding hammer - the final stone of the end for those still not versed in curling terminology - the US have gone 2-0 up after skip Patrick McDonald rolls the stone in to secure a two-point start after a tactical first end. 

09:44 These are the standing are the start of play - with Russia and defending champions Canada having already secured semi-final slots. Britain and Slovakia are leading the battle for the other two but China, the US and ever Norway are still in the hunt should they have a good final day. 

1. Russia 7 wins,1 loss (Qualified for semi-finals)
2. Canada 6-1 (Qualified for semi-finals)
3. Great Britain 4-3
3. Slovakia 4-3
5. China 4-4
5. USA 4-4
7. Norway 3-5
8. Korea 2-5
8. Sweden 2-5
10. Finland 1-6

09:40 WIth the semi-finals to come on Saturday - i.e. day eight -  tomorrow is scheduled to be either a rest day or a day of play-offs to decide the last four places should teams be tied, this means that today is crunch-time with the final two sessions of round-robin matches.

Up first is Finland versus South Korea, Great Britain against the United States, Slovakia against Canada and Sweden versus Norway. 

09:36 It is the final day of round robin action and we are just getting underway. 

With Russia's brilliant victory over the US on day four having upset the apple-cart in terms of the expected last-four is set to be a huge day of ice sledge hockey action ©Getty Images

09:26 For the rest of the world however it is the second semi-final which probably whets the appetite the most. The world champions from Canada up against the defending Olympic champions from the US. We saw it at this stage in men's Olympic event, we say it a stage later in the final of women's event and on both those occasions it was Canada who came away winners.

Will today be the same? We will find out from 8pm this evening. 

09:23 Coming up at 1pm we have the first of two ice sledge hockey semi-finals and its a big one for the host nation as Russia take on Norway. They made a slow start to this tournament the Russians but after a brilliant win over the US on day four they will have their sights set on a historic gold medal.

09:20 There is slightly onus today - with no action up at the Laura Centre in either biathlon and cross country and although the slalom has been brought forward by an hour - bringing back memories of Olympic Alpine delays - it does still not start until this afternoon.

But it is a huge day in wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey.

09:11 Nine sets of medals were won on day five including four more for Russian cross country and a ninth career gold for Mr WInter Paralympics himself in Canadian star Brian McKeever. 

It was also a good day for Germany, who won two women's slalom golds. One of those results, in the sitting category, has been protested after Anna Schaffelhuber was disqualified for a false start. But even if she is promoted into first - having completed her second run under protest - it will still be a win for Germany as Anna-Lena Forster is the current leader.

09:05 It is amazing, and slightly sad, that we are already well into the second half of these Games in Sochi. But we have a veritable feast of sporting action to come today and for the remainder of the Games.  

Hello, good morning and welcome to day six of the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi