Sochi skiers


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

Until tomorrow...

See you then!

We will be back with the exclusive insidethegames live blog bright and early at 9am to update you on all of this - as well as the latest on Alaskans called Sochi, tweeting IOC members and maybe, just maybe, the Jamaican bobsleigh team.

00:22 It has also been a day when the atmosphere in the Olympic Park has ramped up a few notches and we expect that to continue into tomorrow and beyond.

Six more golds tomorrow - with one apiece in speed skating, biathlon and cross country.

We also see the conclusion of luge with the team relay and slopestyle with the men's skiing event, while action recommences in short track with the women's 500m

Last but not least we see the beginning of the women's skeleton competition as Great Britain's pair of Lizzie Yarnold and Shelly Rudman begin their pursuit of gold.

Medals wrap

We now have our own medals table updated throughout the day on the left of our homepage at insidethegames.

If you have been glancing at it you will know that Germany now hold a two gold medal lead with six gongs and just two other medals. Canada, Norway and the Netherlands are second, third and fourth on count back as all three have enjoyed four victories - while the United States and Switzerland hold three apiece. 

00:08 So that brings to an end day five in Sochi. Six gold medals were up for grabs but seven were won due to a historic tie in Alpine skiing -  with Switzerland's Dominique Gisin Slovenia's Tina Maze reaping the benefits.

Two more titles for Germany in luge and Nordic Combined, while Russia, the United States and the Netherlands all continued their single sport domination by triumphing in figure skating, snowboarding and speed skating respectively.

Ice hockey brings day to an end 

23:17 Late winner for Switzerland so they beat Latvia 1-0, while Sweden beat Czech Republic 4-2. That is all the sporting action done and dusted for day five.

insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker on sporting behaviour in the past...

philip barker23:12 "The sportsmanship of Canadian Coach Justin Wadsworth has rightly received plaudits. He helped Russian Anton Gafarov who had broken a ski in the cross country race. "More power to his elbow " said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

Yet perhaps the greatest example of sportsmanship at the Winter Olympics happened  fifty years ago when Italian bobsleigh star Eugenio Monti sacrificed his own chance of victory to help a rival crew. Great Britain's Tony Nash and Robin Dixon led by 0.41 after the first run in the two man bob competition at Igls during the 1964 Olympic Winter Games. As they were getting ready for their second run, they discovered a bolt had broken. It was Monti, still in with a very real chance of the gold himself who sent a spare up to the start. The British led at the end of the first day and though the Italian crews threatened in the competition that followed, they came through to take the gold medal.

Both men were well aware that their triumph would never have happened without their greatest rival and insisted on acknowledging his gesture before talking about their victory.

The Times called it " a gesture of sportsmanship that measures up to anything the Olympic Games summer and winter ancient and modern has ever known. The incident struck the note that Baron de Coubertin must have had in mind."

Happily Monti did eventually get his gold medal four years later in Grenoble.

Medals done and dusted but celebrations on ice for the moment

23:03 We still have two ice hockey matches going on this evening. Sweden remain 4-2 up over Czech Republic while it's 0-0 still between Latvia and Switzerland. A 0-0 draw in ice hockey? 

Figure skating finale: two out of two for Russia

The victorious Russian pair are overcome with emotion after their emphatic gold medal ©Getty ImagesThe victorious Russian pair are overcome with emotion after their emphatic gold medal ©Getty Images

22:57 A slight slip for the Germans, but they still did enough for a medal - only the second non-golden one for the table toppers who won their fifth and sixth golden ones earlier on today.

This is a contender for picture of the day...but the German pair still took a bronze medal ©Getty ImagesThis is a contender for picture of the day...but the German pair still took a bronze medal ©Getty Images

22:48 Sochi 2014 gold medalIt's all over in the figure skating. Gold goes to the Russian pair of Tatiana Volosozha and Maxim Trankov. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov take silver in a Russian double.

The German pair of Savchenko and Szolkowy did hang on for bronze.

22:42 Meanwhile, in the ice hockey Czech Republic are fighting back and are now trailing 4-2 to Sweden after two periods. 

22:40 Straight onto the figure skating and after another wonderful day there is finally disappointment for medal table toppers Germany as Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy have each fallen and after being second after the first run, that will probably end their medal chances.

Halfpipe medals decided

Kaitlin Farrington of the United States wins on the halfpipe ©Getty ImagesKaitlin Farrington of the United States wins on the halfpipe ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal22:32
 No she will not. Solid but certainly not spectacular and Clark will only take bronze. So the least known American Kaitlin Farrington takes gold!

In between the two US stars is Torah Bright of Australia who takes silver to follow gold from Vancouver 2010. That is Australia's first medal of the Games. 

22:30 We will have a US victory here. But can Kelly Clark steal gold from her team mate Farrington? She's last up.

22:28 Defending champion Torah Bright up next. Good clean run. But only good enough for second for the Australian.

22:26 Long time leader is Kaitlin Farrington of the US compatriot Hannah Teter falls and won't win a medal.

22:24 Final stages now of the women's halfpipe

Where to get those German jackets

22:21 With typical German efficiency, Christian from the German Olympic Sports Confederation has contacted us straight away to let us know where you can buy a limited range of the kit the German team are wearing here in Sochi (see 22:13). Click here to go shopping.

Curling record equalled

22:19 The total of six points scored in the Great Britain versus Switzerland match (six, Britain won 4-2) is the equal-lowest in a men's Olympic curling match.

That mark was set in 1998, when Great Britain defeated Norway 4-2 and was equalled in the Great Britain against United States match in 2010 (4-2).

The women's record is five points, when Great Britain defeated Denmark 3-2 in 2006.

Funky German jackets

Germany's athletes are sporting some funky gear in Sochi

22:13 The Germans have been sporting some pretty funky jackets in Sochi, which they officially launched in October.

We've been asked where people can get hold of them. We're checking with the German Olympic Sports Confederation, and will post on our blog when we get an answer.

Let's face the music and dance

22:05 Japanese skater Daisuke Takahashi has had his preparations for the men's singles here disrupted in an unusual way. He is planning to skate to a piece of music called Sonatina for Violin in his short programme tomorrow.

The piece was originally attributed to acclaimed deaf Japanese composer Mamoru Samuragochi until he admitted last week that he used a ghost writer and is not deaf. The scandal has rocked the world of classical music but Takahashi claims he feels comfortable continuing to use the music.

"When I heard, I was astonished," he admitted. "Whether I could use the music, I was unsure. I didn't know."

But he said he liked the music and added, "I am happy to be using this music for skating."

21:57 Kelly Clark has fallen in the same spot as Torah Bright. The top two in qualifying will have to pull it out of the bag in the second runs to make the medals. Bright is eighth, Clark 10th.

21:56 Torah Bright of Australia has a promising start to her run, but falls and is eighth. She will have a chance to make amends in her second run. Just Kelly Clark of the United States to go before the first runs are complete.

21:49 We're nearing the end of the first runs in the women's halfpipe. It's a United States 1-2 at the moment, led by Hannah Teter. Three more to come.

21:36 Great Britain have held on to beat Switzerland 4-2 in the curling. Could be an important win that one... Canada beat Russia 7-4. The other two matches are yet to finish.

The reasons people are attending Sochi 2014

21:35 People are coming from all over the world to attend Sochi 2014. Our favourite so far? A group of Alaskans have travelled here because their friend is called Sochi.

"We were thinking of going to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil but then we came here. Xochitl (pronounced Sochi) had to come to Sochi," said Xochitl Foster. "We're staying with a host family here. When they heard my name they were cracking up. They think it's great."

21:31 Still the big names are yet to take to the ice in the figure skating. The home crowd are hoping for gold medal success later on - but will have to be content with spills instead of thrills at this stage.

Oops! Stefania Berton of Italy falls in the early stages of the pairs final ©Getty ImagesOops! Stefania Berton of Italy falls in the early stages of the pairs final ©Getty Images

21:26 Daniel Alfredsson scores to put Sweden 1-0 up over Czech Republic in the ice hockey.

IOC Tweeters

Those social media statistics (21:00) deem it an appropriate time to see how vocal IOC members have been on the Twitter front today... Here are three of the best...

twitter logoAlready @dariocologna & @iouriamazing won gold at #Sochi2014 too. Medal table looks very good today! #HoppSchwiiz -
- FIFA President Sepp Blatter - the most followed IOC member by miles - is delighted with Switzerland's medal success.

twitter logoCongrats to the India NOC on its reinstated IOC status & to Narayna Ramachandran on being elected its new President!
- International Triathlon Union President Marisol Casado reacts to yesterday's news regarding India's return to the Olympic fold.

twitter logoLove #Olympic spirit in #Sochi2014 : Team mates of Eric #Frentzel cheering after his victory today, great guys!
- But IOC Athletes Commission chair Claudia Bokel is leading the way in Sochii as far as twitter is concerned. Bokel the most vocal I think it is fair to say...

Round up...

21:06 Elsewhere at the moment, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the United States lead in the figure skating... but none of the top eight from the short programme have been yet.In curling it is proving a bad day on the ice for Russia. Their men are 6-2 down to Canada.Great Britain, meanwhile, are 3-2 up against Switzerland, but its nervy stuff.

We're also underway in the evening ice hockey matches: Sweden versus Czech Republic and Latvia versus Switzerland. 0-0 in both at the moment.

Action also about to begin in the women's halfpipe final. 

Social Media statistics...

21:00 As you would expect, Sochi 2014 is dominating social media at the moment. Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud have put together some figures and discovered that so far there have been 1,132,956 mentions of Sochi, which equates to 768 a minute. 

#Sochi2014 is the most used hashtag, and is used in about a quarter of all mentions relating to the Olympics. But, worryingly for organisers, the top trending hashtag is @sochiproblems. And the most popular sport at the Games on social media? Curling with 93,504 mentions...

For more fascinating facts on this, including a special infographic, click here

Olympic Park

20:56 It has to be said that - after being being somewhat disappointed over the opening days - the Olympic Park has been like a different place today and for the first time - for insidethegames at least - you get the impression that the fans are at the centre of the Games.

National flags are everywhere - mainly Russian but also glimpses of German, Kazakh and Ukrainian ones - while an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation ahead of the figure skating is evident.

20:52 A mass medals Ceremony is underway in the Olympics Park. Eight sets of medals, awarded over the last couple of days, being awarded.

20:46 One man who will have certainly been enjoying the German success is IOC President Thomas Bach. He was attending a Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic event in Norway House this evening - and certainly got some jealous looks from the Norwegians present - Norway being now two gold medals behind Germany.

He also took having this jumper thrust upon him very well. "It's nicely tailored," Bach reflected - before outlining the sporting, cultural and educational significance of the Youth Olympics.

 Thomas Bach, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Lillehammer 2016 chief executive Tomas Holmestad in Norway House this evening ©ITG Thomas Bach, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Lillehammer 2016 chief executive Tomas Holmestad in Norway House this evening ©ITG

20:39 Germany have only won seven medals so far but - sensationally - six of them have been gold. They are now two clear on the medals table ahead of Canada, Norway and the Netherlands - who each have four.

20:37 The luge action finishes tomorrow with the relay event. Teams are made up of one man, one women and one men's pair. When one finishes their run, the next start. I wonder who the favourites will be? Germany, by any chance?

A stunning backdrop is the scene as Germany continue their golden streak in lugeA stunning backdrop is the scene as Germany continue their golden streak in luge ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal20:28 What an Olympic Games Germany are having! And especially in luge. Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl take the gold medal.

They won by 0.522 seconds - which in luge terms is a country mile. Silver for Penz and Fischler of Austria while Latvia's Andris and Juris Sics take bronze.

Just the German first round leaders to come...

20:25 Mixed fortunes for Austria as Peter Penz and Georg Fischler are all over the place and have no chance of medals. But much better by Andreas and Wolfgang Linger - and they take the lead!

20:22 There has been plenty of sibling success so far in Sochi. Latvian brothers Andris Sics and Juris Sics will be hoping to add to that, and to their silver medal at Vancouver 2010. They are currently in the lead with four more pairs to come.

20:19 Meanwhile, there are plenty of tense and low-scoring matches currently ongoing in the men's curling. Both Russia and Canada, and Denmark and Sweden, are locked at 2-2, while Britain have edged 2-1 ahead against Switzerland. China 5-3 up against Germany in the other match.

20:16 We are getting into the business end of the luge doubles competition now with the top eight pairs from the first round taking to the ice. Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany are the leaders at this stage.

©Twitter"Someone handed out Vuvuzelas at the door. It's gunna be LOUD in here tonight. #Sochi2014"
Journalist Nick McCarvel predicts a noisy crowd at the figure skating.

19:57 It's hard to look past Germany for gold in the luge - and it will be three out of three for them if they do win it. The two Austrian pairs, Canada, and maybe Latvia, will likely be fighting it out for the minor medals.

19:48 In Summer Olympic news, Japan has set up a new panel of experts to help it become more influential internationally in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 by strengthening its "sports diplomacy". More here.

19:37 Three more gold medals to be won today, and the first of those is in the luge doubles. The second runs begin in a few minutes.

19:29 Stefan Groothuis was fourth in the 1,000m in Vancouver four years ago. Encouragement for Nico Ihle, who came fourth this time round, perhaps?

Sochi 2014 gold medal
19:22 It's Olympic gold for Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands, as the Dutch continue their speed skating superiority in Sochi. Denny Morrison of Canada takes the silver, Michel Mulder of the Netherlands the bronze.

Olympic champion Stefan Groothuis ©Getty Images

Denis Kuzin of Kazakhstan and Mirko Nenzi of Italy the last two to take to the ice.

19:19 It's 11th for Tae Bum Mo. Stefan Groothuis leads with one pair remaining. 

19:18 Vancouver 2010 runner-up Tae Bum Mo of Korea is up now.

19:17 Four men - two pairs - left to take to the ice.

19:16 Seventh for Shani Davis. He looked cool and calm, but the stopwatch doesn't lie.

19:14 Shani Davis, going for his third straight Olympic gold in this event, is on next. History could be in the making here for the American.

19:13 Champion in the 500m, Michel Mulder of the Netherlands, goes third. Canadian Denny Morrison is third.

19:10 Yes he can, Stefan Groothuis goes top, 0.47 seconds ahead of German Nico Ihle, who he was racing with.

19:09 Dutchman Stefan Groothuis in the next pair. Can he restore honours for the Netherlands at the top of the timesheet?

19:07 Aleksey Yesin of Russia getting plenty of support from the crowd, with horns blaring in the Adler Arena Skating Centre. But it's only good enough for 9th. Five pairs to go.

19:05 Samuel Schwarz of Germany is the new leader in the speed skating.

19:04 Olympic 1500 metres champion Asli Çakır Alptekin is facing a life ban, the International Association of Athletics Federations announced today that it was appealing against a decision by Turkey in December to clear her of doping charges.

19:02 Attention now back on the men's 1,000m speed skating, where the gold medals will soon be decided. The second half of the competition is on, and defending Olympic champion Shani Davis of the United States will be one of the last pairs out. Dutch skater Mark Tuitert leads at the moment.

18:59 So that's run one of the luge doubles complete. Germany lead from the two Austrian pairs. Canada fourth, ahead of Latvia and Russia.

Banner rules relaxed

18:51 A new decree has been passed allowing spectators to bring banners into the Games and display them during competition. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree relaxing rules for this region that had been outlined in a previous decree signed in December.

The old decree called for a number of restrictions on spectator banners, which required an official translation of any non-Russian words, which was then to be filed to the local administration for approval.

Under the new decree banners should not contain any offensive or swear words, advertising, religious, political or derogatory content or any information or slogan that is "against public order and/or morals". There is also a size restriction. Banners should not be bigger than two metres by one metre.

Security also has the right to ask spectators to unroll the banners and flags when they enter the Olympic zone so they can be inspected.

18:47 Are the Germans on for a luge clean sweep? With just a few pairs remaining in the doubles, and the in-form teams already clocking a time, they lead by 0.312 from the two Austrian pairs in second and third. The second runs will begin at 7.45pm.

Lebanese skier in topless calendar row

18:43 Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun has caused controversy back home after posing topless for a calendar. The pictures, which show the 22-year-old standing in snow holding strategically placed ski equipment to protect her modesty, were taken for an Austrian calendar.

Lebanon's Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami has told the Lebanese Olympic Committee to investigate the matter "to ensure the protection of Lebanon's reputation".

Chamoun, one of two athletes representing Lebanon in alpine skiing, claimed the photos were taken three years ago, and the images in the final calendar are objectively less explicit than the video of the shoot that is circulating.

But she has apologised for the incident on her Facebook account. "I know that Lebanon is a conservative country and this is not the image that reflects our culture," she wrote. "I fully understand if you want to criticise this."

But, more liberal Lebanese have taken to social media to say she had nothing to be ashamed about and should not apologise. A campaign was started calling for people to take pictures of themselves topless and post them on Twitter in support.

18:35 With the first 10 pairs in the men's 1,000m speed skating complete, Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands leads. A short break now before the final 10 pairs get on the ice.

Quote graphic"As a child there were three horror films he knew from the west. One was Nightmare on Elm Street, the second one was Friday the 13th, and the third one was Miracle on Ice."
IOC communications director Mark Adams relays Sochi 2014 head honcho Dmitry Chernyshenko's take on how deeply ice hockey, and the shock defeat by the United States at the Lake Placid 1980 Games, is ingrained in the Russian psyche.

Sochi's sunshine problem

Hot. Cool. Yours. is the slogan of these Games, but the relative heat is causing problems for organisers ©AFP/Getty ImagesHot. Cool. Yours. is the slogan of these Games, but the relative heat is causing problems for organisers ©AFP/Getty Images

18:02 Sochi 2014 admit the warm weather here is causing them problems with the snow events but remain confident that it will not ruin the Games. Competitors have described the snow as "slushy, super sugary and very soft" after a week of sunny conditions but so far no events have been cancelled.

"The conditions have been difficult for the last eight days," said Oleg Kitov, deputy competition manager at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. "Before that, it was a mixture of natural and artificial snow, now it's more like a granular snow on the surface. There is no plan to bring in more snow, but we will see what happens."

Temperatures at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park were 11 degrees in the shade and 15 degrees in the sun today. Kitov snow maintenance teams had been putting dry ice on the aerials course, and water and salt on the halfpipe. "Every morning it is quite safe, but our concern now is mostly about [warm temperatures in] the daytime," he said.

At RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre, organisers have been adding snow to the ski jumps and Nordic combined course for several days.

But concerns about warm weather and snow supplies are "a little bit premature", IOC communications director Mark Adams claimed. "I was at some of the events yesterday and it doesn't seem to me to be an issue," he said. "I gather snow is coming at the weekend and that temperatures will go down at the weekend, but not being a weather forecaster I can't be sure."

17:57 The United States have a slender 1-0 lead over Canada in the women's ice hockey, with one period remaining.

What's coming up?

17:48 Run one of two in the luge doubles begins at 6.15pm - did we mention we're excited about that one?

We have the men's 1,000m speed skating just before that at 6pm, with forty men racing to the line before the medals are dished out.

At 7pm, we have four men's curling matches getting underway, as well as the semi-finals of the women's halfpipe. 

Pairs figure skating is up at 7.45pm, when the second runs of the luge doubles also start. 

17:29 A brief lull in Sochi before we start trying to watch three television screens at the same time again. Canada and the United States are into the second period of their women's ice hockey match - goalless so far.

Eric Frenzel holds off the challenges to win the gold medal ©Getty ImagesEric Frenzel holds off the rest of the field to win the gold medal ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal16:58 Another victory for Germany as Eric Frenzel fights back to take the Nordic Combined normal hill event.

Frenzel, always the favourite for gold, beat Japan's Akito Watabe and Norway's Magnus Krog into the minor medal positions.

Curling conclusion

16:56 Canada hold on to beat Great Britain 9-6. Worrying times for the British after two losses but they are still alive in this round-robin format. And of course winning an Olympic curling competition is about producing your best form in the medal matches rather than in the opening days.

The other two matches both ended 7-4. Sweden beating South Korea and China getting the better of the United States. 

16:52 Nordic Combined cross-country section is underway. Akito Watabe of Japan has overtaken Eric Frenzel of Germany after six of 10 kilometres. Japan have never won a gold medal in this event.

A nice photo here of photographers setting up their equipment ahead of the cross country finale of the Nordic Combined ©AFP/Getty ImagesA nice photo here of photographers setting up their equipment ahead of the cross country finale of the Nordic Combined ©AFP/Getty Images

16:44 Great Britain are hanging on in there in the curling - but only just. They are 8-6 down but have the last stone in the 10th and final end. 

Two more points for Japan and they celebrate on the ice as they clinch a 8-4 victory over Russia. The crowd has fallen very quiet for some reason. Huge throngs are now leaving the stadium - which is disappointing as three matches are still going on. 

16:38 We've got the second half - the cross-country half - of the Nordic Combined about to begin here in Sochi. Then it will be speed skating and halfpipe snowboard action later this afternoon.

Olympic Park update

16:23 Good to see a decent number of people scrambling for extra tickets in the Park this afternoon...The whole atmosphere and vibe feels much more like London 2012 this afternoon. Friendly volunteers with big gloves to point with and crowds milling around simply relaxing and enjoying themselves.

Still a bit confusing getting to places and still seems dominated by Russian, rather than international, fans. But much more impressive today, all in all.

A volunteer helpfully points out the Olympic Flame for those who missed it ©ITGA volunteer helpfully points out the Olympic Flame for those who missed it ©ITG         More people in the Park on a beautiful - almost summery - afternoon at the Winter Olympics ©ITGMore people in the Park on a beautiful - almost summery - afternoon at the Winter Olympics ©ITG

The scramble for leftover tickets in the Olympic Park ©ITGThe scramble for leftover tickets to events in the Olympic Park ©ITG

 Great Britain pull one back to make it 7-6 to Canada. Real humdinger of a clash this one. The crowd don't care though - they only have eyes for Russia versus Japan on an adjacent sheet. Sweden and China are leading South Korea and the US respectively in the other matches - as a Mexican Wave reverberates around the Curling Centre. It misses out the media section...

16:08: Electrifying atmosphere in the curling once again. The Russians were trailing 5-2 against Japan but some excellent sweeping and they score twice to reduce the deficit to one, as the crowd go wild.

With four matches progressing simultaneously, it must be hard for the other six teams currently on the ice to find their best form given the distractions. But Great Britain are going to need to do exactly that if they're going to get something out of their clash with in form Canada. 7-5 down deep into the eighth end.

A sight to behold

Romania's Radu Sovaiala and Alexandru Teodorescu struggle to control their luge during a training run at the Sanki Sliding Centre ©AFP/Getty ImagesRomania's Radu Sovaiala and Alexandru Teodorescu struggle to control their luge during a training run at the Sanki Sliding Centre ©AFP/Getty Images

15:51 It's probably one of the more unusual Winter Olympic events, so our eyes will be firmly fixed on the the Sanki Sliding Centre later as the luge doubles get going. It's not an event the women compete in at the Olympics, but the first of two runs for the male pairs will begin at 6.15pm. The second runs to decide the medals will be at 7.45pm. Austria won this event in Vancouver 2010.

15:39 The next gold medal on day five of Sochi 2014 will be won in the Nordic combined, with the cross country at 4.30pm. Eric Frenzel of Germany leads from Akito Watabe of Japan after the ski jumping earlier. If Frenzel wins the gold, Germany will move to the top of the medals table with five golds.

15:28 Kelly Clark of the United States has topped qualification in the first heat of the women's halfpipe. Snowboarders in the second heat will be pulling their tricks from 4pm. The final is at 9.30pm.

15:20 Finland's women have beaten Switzerland 4-3 in overtime at the ice hockey. A tasty encounter between Canada and the United States will begin in just over an hour at the Shayba Arena.

Lillehammer 2016

14:58 The next Olympic event on snow will be the second Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer in 2016. For an update on how Organising Committee chief executive Tomas Holmestad hopes it will demonstrate a new array of exciting winter disciplines, click here. 

Afternoon action

14:56 Canada move 3-1 ahead of Great Britain in the early stages of their key women's curling clash. Japan leading Russia and the US ahead of China in the other matches.

14:53 Just to confirm that Eric Frenzel leads from Akito Watabe after the ski jumping section of the Nordic Combined. Evgeniy Klimov of Russia lies third in a 46 man field. We will have to wait a couple of hours or so when the medals will be decided over the cross country. 

14:48 Spain, not a nation you hear about too often at the Winter Olympics, are leading in the early stages of women's halfpipe snowboarding qualification courtesy of Queralt Castellet. US star Kelly Clark is favourite for gold but we now know after last night how US favourites are not guaranteed halfpipe victories. She lies second at the moment.

More from insidethegames historian Philip Barker on the latest Olympic Rings furore...

14:44 philip barkerThe makers of the five giant Olympics Rings, which adorn the approach to Sochi Airport , have fallen into a familiar trap, albeit with a twist.

They have assigned a specific coloured ring to each continent, thus black for Africa  yellow for Asia, blue for Europe, red for the Americas and green for Australia, which, of course, should be Oceania.

In fact when Baron Pierre Coubertin first unveiled his design for the most famous Olympic symbol 100 years ago, he wrote  that "these five rings represent the five parts of the world now won over to Olympism and ready to accept its fruitful rivalries," without giving a colour to any ring in particular. What he did do was highlight the flags existing at that time.

He put it rather more lyrically " Moreover, the six colours thus combined reproduce those of all the nations without exception. The blue and yellow of Sweden, the blue and white of Greece, the French, English, American, German, Belgian, Italian and Hungarian tricolors, the yellow and red of Spain are side by side with the new Brazilian and Australian flags, the old Japan and the new China. It is a true international emblem," said Coubertin.

Sochi's organisers ought not to feel too bad. The same mistake has been made many times, notably at Sydney 2000, in of all places the Olympic store.

The Olympic Rings outside Sochi airport ©Getty ImagesThe correct interpretation of the Olympic Rings can also be seen in Sochi ©Getty Images

Olympics history

Our insidethegames historian Philip Barker - who correctly predicted the two Sochi 2014 Olympic flame lighters in the last paragraph of this blog in September -  has been casting his great mind back into the annals of Olympic figure skating history with his latest piece: on Russia's first gold and the skating pioneers.

More Olympian gestures from Canada

14:29 They're a sporting lot these Canadians as, in a true act of Olympic sportsmanship, Gilmore Junio has elected to opt out from racing in the 1,000m event tomorrow so reserve Denny Morrison can take his place.

"Denny and I are made of the same fabric - we both want to win and represent our country at a level that reflects that passion" said Junio, who finished third in the distance at the Canadian Olympic Team trials back in December. 

"I believe it's in the best interest of the team if he [Morrison] races," he added. "To represent Canada at the Olympics is a huge honour and privilege but I believe that as Canadians, we're not just here to compete; we are here to win. Denny has proven to be a consistent medal threat in the distance."

Nordic Combined, curling and ice hockey...

14:23 Eric Frenzel leads in the ski jumping section of the Nordic Combined. Akito Watabe of Japan lies second... Points gained here will be translated into a time advantage in the cross country section later. 

14:19 More Swiss success as they nick a late ice hockey equaliser and draw 3-3 with Finland.

Big match coming up in curling between unbeaten Canada and Great Britain - composed, of course, of the 2013 World Championship winning Scotland team.

Britain lost their opener to Sweden on Monday before the Swedes were thrashed by the Canadians yesterday. So looking good for Canada here... Maybe?

Olympic spirit on display

14:07 Following another case earlier in the week (see 10:52 on day two here) there was another great example of Olympic brotherhood in action in the mountains yesterday

This happened when Canadian cross-country coach Justin Wadsworth helped Russian skier Anton Gafarov finish a race after the athlete had crashed down on a downhill and broken his ski.

The coach helped Gafarov finish the race with 'dignity' about three minutes behind the field.

Click here for a full article on the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) website.

Downhill reaction

They obviously were not considering the blog writers when they decided to award two gold medals in the downhill earlier... because we have to do everything twice.

Two gold medal icons, two sets of reaction quotes... It's a hard life. 

Quote graphic"I have no words. This doesn't feel real. I have been dreaming about this since I was little. The first ski race I ever won in my life was a downhill so before I went up today I said to myself. 'This has to be it. I can do it and I just went for it.'"
- Slovenia's Tina Maze reacts to her downhill gold medal.

Quote graphic"This is incredible. I am overwhelmed with emotions. What a day. I don't think I even dreamt about this. Now that I have won I am living the dream, but this is better than dreaming."
- Switzerland's Dominique Gisin reacts to her gold medal.

13:58 Finland lead Switzerland 3-2 in the third period in ice hockey.

Finland and Switzerland are in the closing stages of their ice hockey clash ©Getty ImagesFinland and Switzerland are nearing the closing stages of their ice hockey clash ©Getty Images

13:53 Right, spot of lunch enjoyed by the insidethegames team, and now back for an afternoon of sport here in Sochi.

I'd love to say it was a healthy lunch. But when the options consist of McDonalds and a food mall which seems seem to be stuck in a mindset that pizza slices and pasta carbonara is the only food in existence, that is quite hard...

In other action...

13:05 We are about to get underway in Nordic combined while Finland lead Switzerland 2-1 in ice hockey.

12:57 They showed an amazing graphic of the two skiers super-imposed so skiing together to compare their performances.

Gave a few tired and distracted journalists a sudden panic that there had been some bizarre rule change and skiers were performing simultaneously...

The two gold medal winners embrace following their historic tie for gold ©Getty ImagesThe two gold medal winners embrace following their historic tie for gold ©Getty Images

Downhill nears finish

Sochi 2014 gold medalSochi 2014 gold medal12:40 Two gold medals.  Dominique Gisin of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia share the women's downhill title. First time ever in Olympic Alpine skiing...

Lara Gut of Switzerland takes bronze. 

12:37 It has been confirmed  that the gold medal will be shared if nothing changes - for the first time in Alpine skiing Olympic history - just five skiers to go. 

12:21 Coletti is stretchered off, and it looks nasty unfortunately, but we're back underway within the final few taking to the slopes. 

twitter logoCrazy cheering crowd here at women's downhill final. @TeamGB @ChemmySki is soon to race #gogogo
- Britain's Vancouver 2010 skeleton gold medal winner Amy Williams voices her support for Chemmy Alcott - who is up soon...

12:19 A bit of a delay after Alexandra Coletti of Monaco has had a nasty fall on one of the toughest parts of the course. The medics are on the scene.

A photographer is determined not to miss out on Tina Maze's celebrations after jointly taking the lead ©AFP/Getty ImagesA photographer is determined not to miss out on Tina Maze's celebrations after she jointly takes the lead ©AFP/Getty Images

12:11 Twelve more skiers to go. Dominique Gisin is on the phone in the winners enclosure. I wonder what she's talking about...

12:06 Anything but clear cut on the downhill though. Because we still - and this would be for the first time in Olympic Alpine history - have a tie for the lead. 

Both Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze stopped the clock at 1:41.57.

Brief curling interlude

12:04 Just to add to the downhill suspense - a brief interlude to bring some men's curling results from earlier on. United States 9 Denmark 5, Norway 8 Germany 5 and China 5 Switzerland 4. 

I feel like a Saturday afternoon classified football results reader...

It's all downhill from here

Still some big names to go though...

11:59 Hearing that there has never been a dead heat for gold in Olympic alpine skiing history. We had history in the ski-jumping last night. Could be have more here?

Tina Maze won two silver medals in Super G and giant slalom at Vancouver 2010 but has never won an Olympic gold. Not just yet anyway. Dominique Gisin has never got close...with three World Cups wins the highlight of her career...

Tina Maze in action on the treacherous slopes of Rosa Khutor ©Getty ImagesTina Maze in action on the treacherous slopes of Rosa Khutor. The Slovenian has taken the joint-lead... ©Getty Images

11:54 Tina Maze clocks exactly the same time as Gisin. We have co-leaders and could that mean a joint gold medal?

11:50 Disappointing from Austrian Elizabeth Goergl, who won bronze at Vancouver 2010 but only good enough for 10th at this stage, while super-combined winner Maria Hoefl-Riesch barely does better and goes ninth. A big blow for Germany that. 

11:40 Back to the sport and - after Swiss success on the halfpipe last night - more of the same in Alpine skiing so far as Dominique Gisin holds the downhill lead.


Some more doping figures to wrap up the briefing. So far a total of 1,348 doping tests have been conducted: 1,027 pre competition and 321 post competition.

So by my count that means 321 have been undertaken in the last 24 hours. Still no word on results.

11:31 Concerns over security, warm weather and ticket sales currently being downplayed...

In question to reports that a bus driver was caught without accreditation this morning, Sochi 2014 do not comment specifically about this individual case but are still confident in in transport as well as other security provisions. In terms of the warm weather, it is claimed that winter sports are always unpredictable but, because so far nothing has been postponed or cancelled, it is not an issue.

Nodar Kumaritashvili memorial

11:25 It is four years to the day since Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili tragically died on a training run ahead of the luge competition at Vancouver 2010. IOC President Thomas Bach had a moment of reflection with the luge federation this morning and tributes are being paid in Whistler where the 2010 event took place.

Mark Adams says that he believes "athletes are very happy" with the course this year.

Daily briefing

11:17 IOC spokesman Mark Adams hailing the improvements made by women's ice hockey since the sport was criticised by former IOC President Jacques Rogge during the Vancouver 2010 Games. IOC are "very pleased" that there have been less one-sided results so far at Sochi 2014.

11:05 We are in anticipation for the women's downhill coming up later on this morning - but a quick break from the sport for the daily IOC and Sochi 2014 briefing. Will it bring news to match that of yesterday that India's Olympic ban has been lifted?

Great picture this of the biathletes in shooting action yesterday ©Getty ImagesGreat image here of the biathletes in shooting action yesterday ©Getty Images

Already underway

10:51 As ever it is curling up first and three men's matches currently underway.

The US lead Denmark 6-3 and Norway are edging Germany 4-3 while China and Switzerland are locked at 3-3.

Who will win the downhill?

10:28 It is very quiet in the media centre this morning with most journalists having set the alarm clock early to head up the mountain for the women's downhill.

It is always a great spectacle and, in the injury enforced absence of Lindsey Vonn, is especially open this year.

The US will still be well represented by in form Julia Mancuso, while Maria Hoefl-Riesch has already won the super-combined gold in Sochi and will seek to continue Germany's golden Games following wins in luge and ski jumping yesterday.

Many other contenders though with Tina Maze of Slovenia another name to look out for.

Winter Olympics not for you?

10:08 If the winter sports are not for you then - to be perfectly honest - this blog probably won't be either. But you might enjoy this piece yesterday by insidethegames columnist Alan Hubbard on the "baffling jargon and hysteria of a Winter Olympics." 

It is a cracking read, I promise. 

To come today

09:49 Plenty more highlights to come today as well with six gold medals up for grabs. The first one, getting underway soon, will be the women's downhill. Then we will have more action on the halfpipe, in speed-skating, in luge and nordic-combined before the pairs figure skating rounds off the evening. 

09:26 Day four was another roaring success here in Sochi - with Norway, Canada and Germany all winning to ensure a pulsating battle at the top of the medals table. All three are tied on four gold medals.

We also saw a major shock last night as Shaun White finished just fourth on the halfpipe - behind Swiss winner Iouri Podladtchikov - but it was Carina Vogt who produced the performance of the day by winning the first ever women's ski jumping gold medal. 

Carina Vogt won gold in ski-jumping last night - the first ever women to do so ©Getty ImagesCarina Vogt won gold in ski-jumping last night - the first ever women to do so ©Getty Images

09:00 Good morning and welcome to day five at Sochi 2014