5 things to watch at the Winter Games on Monday

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SOCHI, Russia — Athletes will use rifles, stones, skis and blades Monday in their quest for Olympic glory. Here are five things to look for on the fifth day of the Sochi Winter Olympics:


Keep an eye on Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the Michael Phelps of the Winter Games.

He competes in the biathlon, in which cross country skiers pause at appointed spots to shoot rifles at targets. The sport has origins in the hunting practices of northern Europeans.

Bjoerndalen, 40, became the oldest individual gold medalist in Winter Games history on Saturday by winning the men’s biathlon 10km sprint. He tied cross country skier Bjorn Daehlie of Norway for a record 12 Olympic Winter medals.

He could become the outright record-holder if he wins a 13th medal Monday in the men’s12.5-km pursuit.

Who else to watch: Dominik Landertinger of Austria and Jaroslav Soukup of Czech Republic have the second and third starting positions behind Bjoerndalen. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway has won world titles in all the biathlon events.


For people who don’t know anything about winter sports, curling is a hoot. It’s a lot like shuffleboard on ice, relying on strategy more than strength or quickness. Two teams of four players each slide heavy polished stones across the ice toward a circular target. Points are scored by placing stones closest to the center of the target.

The U.S. men will compete against Norway. The United States won bronze at the 2006 games but finished poorly in 2010. Team members John Shuster and Jeff Isaacson competed in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games for the United States.

The U.S. women will face Switzerland on Monday. One of the United States’ top players is Ericka Brown, 41, who comes from a curling family. Her husband, father, mother and brother have all competed on the Olympic or national level.

Who else to watch: Canada has dominated men’s curling for the past decade and won gold at the 2010 games in Vancouver. Sweden won gold for the women at the last Olympics.

Women’s Alpine Skiing

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein hopes to follow in her mother’s ski tracks. Mom Hanni Wenzel won gold in the alpine skiing slalom at Lake Placid in 1980, making her the only woman from Liechtenstein to ever win an Olympic gold medal.

Two of the five alpine skiing events will take place Monday. In the downhill, the athletes will cover the longest distance of any event and hit the highest speeds, sometimes close to 75 mph (120 kph). In the slalom, athletes ski through a course marked with tightly placed flags and gates.

Who else to watch: Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany won gold in two events at the 2010 games. Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States is a favorite in the slalom.

Short track skating

This is one of the Winter Games’ newest and most exciting events. It didn’t become an official Olympic competition until 1992. With extremely tight turns, each race presents the possibility of collisions and spills.

Charles Hamelin of Canada is the favorite to win the 1,500 meters. In the 2010 games at Vancouver, he won gold in the 500-meter event as well as the 5,000-meter relay.

Viktor Ahn of Russia could also win the event. J.R. Celski of the United States won bronze in 2010 and is a threat.

The Olympic races include 500m, 1000m, and 1500m races (for both men and women), and relay races at 3000m (women) and 5000m (men).

Who else to watch: Some other contenders in the 1,500 include Lee Han-Bin and Sin Da Woon, both of Korea.

Freestyle skiing

This is going to get bumpy. In perhaps the most jarring of all winter sports, mogul skiers try to fly through a course while bouncing over huge mounds of snow. Oh, and they throw in some flips and aerial turns in between, too.

On Monday, a new king of the mounds will be crowned. Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury is a favorite to win the gold. The 21-year-old has been skiing moguls since he was 8 years old.

Who else to watch: Another Canadian, Alex Bilodeau, and American Patrick Deneen are also strong contenders.

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