Maddie Bowman lifted the US gold medal count with her first-place finish in the first-ever Olympic ladies ski halfpipe. Her 900 spins and a backwards 700 edged out Marie Martinod of France, who took silver.
Bowman’s win comes after teammate David Wise earned gold yesterday in the men’s version of the event. (The newly added Olympic freestyle events have treated Team USA well: Five of the US’ eight gold medals are from slopestyle and halfpipe events that are debuting in Sochi for the first time.)
In other competition, the Canadian and US women’s ice hockey teams maintained their thrilling rivalry in a classic overtime match. The US ladies were poised for victory with a 2-0 lead with only four minutes left in the game. But the Canadians charged back to tie the game in the final minute and force overtime, which they won with a goal in the eighth minute. It’s the fourth straight Olympic victory for the Canadian ice hockey women.
No event thrilled the hometown crowd like the women’s figure skating competition, where Adelina Sotnikova became the first Russian woman to win the ladies’ Olympic title. Sotnikova surged in her free skate, hitting all her technical skills and playing off the crowd in a skate that pushed her above defending Olympic champion Kim Yu-na of South Korea. Italy’s Carolina Kostner finished third and US national champion Gracie Gold placed fourth. Her teammates Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds finished seventh and ninth, respectively.
"Kim, the Olympic champion, gave the world all it could possibly have asked for – two skates of assurance and precision to help us remember that Vancouver moment when perfection was etched with every arc of her blade on the ice," the Monitor's Sochi correspondent reports.
And the Russian who everyone forgot found something amazing within herself. Two years ago, she said, "All of my competitions were very bad. I didn't know if I had what it takes to be successful."
But something changed Thursday. "I found something totally different in myself today," she said. "I had a bit of nerves before I skated, but just before I started I was completely calm. I just felt how much I love to skate. I think I found a new me."
French fans have plenty to cheer about after today's action, as well. France had a standout day in the ski cross. Their skiers swept the event, in which skiers racing simultaneously over jumps, slopes, and hairpin turns. The last time the French swept an Olympic podium was in men's vault in the 1924 Paris Summer Games.