- Team USA
Let the Games begin: Team USA's first day recap
The 2014 Winter Olympics kicked off in Sochi on Thursday, headlined by the debut of the team figure skating event and snowboarding slopestyle. U.S. Olympic veterans Bode Miller and Hannah Kearney got off to a great start by finishing on top in qualification and training runs. Here's a look at how the Americans fared on the first day of competition.
Snowboarding: Men's and women's slopestyle qualification
The slopestyle event made its Olympic premiere on Thursday, with the men and women riding the course for the first qualifying round. On the men’s side, Shaun White’s last-minute decision to forgo the slopestyle event and focus on the halfpipe left room for foreign athletes to shine. Staale Sandbech of Norway had the highest score and automatically advanced to the final. American Chas Guldemond finished fifth, so will have to compete in the Saturday morning semi-final alongside other Americans Sage Kotsenburg and Ryan Stassel. The gold medal favorite, Mark McMorris, will also have to compete in the semifinal.
In women’s slopestyle, two Americans, Jamie Anderson and Karly Shorr, advanced straight to the slopestyle final. Anderson is the 2012 and 2013 Winter X Games champion. Australian Torah Bright, who took gold in the halfpipe event in Vancouver and is competing in three snowboarding events in Sochi—halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross—also qualified. The men's semifinal and finals will be held on Saturday, and the women's will be contested on Sunday.
PHOTOS: Through the lens - Top images of the first day of competition
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Figure skating: Team event
The team figure skating event, contested for the first time in Sochi, got underway with the men’s and pairs short programs on Thursday. Team USA is tied for fifth after reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott fell on his opening jump and pairs’ team Marissa Castelli and Simon Shapnir made mistakes on their side-by-side triple Salchows. The Russian team, led by Yevgeny Plushenko in his fourth Olympic appearance, finished the day in first place. Plushenko’s skate to “Tango Roxanne” was received rapturously by the hometown crowd, but his score was topped by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.
The top three teams are Russia, Canada and China. The competition continues on Saturday morning with the women’s short programs, short dance, and pairs’ free skate. Once all short programs are completed, only the top five teams will advance to the free skate portion, which takes place this weekend.
PHOTOS: Figure skating team event
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Freestyle skiing: Women's moguls qualification
Defending Olympic moguls champion, American Hannah Kearney, made a sound step towards a repeat performance with her first place finish in the qualification round at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Thursday. The 27-year-old Vermont moguls skier is competing in her third and final Olympics. On her heels are her suspected competition, Canadian sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, finishing second and third (the third Dufour-Lapointe sister placed eighth). American Eliza Outtrim finished a solid fourth and advanced to Saturday's final.
The top ten finishers from Thursday's qualification round advanced automatically to the finals. The remaining skiers will have a second chance to stay in the race with another qualifying round taking place on Saturday, where 10 additional competitors will advance to the finals.
PHOTOS: Model Olympian - Hannah Kearney
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Alpine skiing: Men's downhill training
The charismatic U.S. Olympic headliner Bode Miller got his fifth Olympic stint off to a great start, winning the first of three downhill training runs. Fellow American Marco Sullivan finished an impressive fourth, behind Miller. The men's downhill will be contested on Sunday.
Three-time Olympic medal winner Julia Mancuso finished in third place in the women's downhill training run. The California native hopes to contend for the podium on Wednesday.
WATCH: Bode Miller poised for Alpine gold
Embedded video_content_type: Bode Miller poised for Alpine gold?