SOCHI, Russia — U.S. slopestyle skiers made history, figure skating has one very interesting day and a Polish cross-country skier dispatches her opponents despite a painful disadvantage.
For six months, Joss Christensen has been burdened with a broken heart.
His father died in August at age 67 of a congenital heart issue.
The last words he spoke to his father were, his mother says, “Dad, I’m doing this for you. I want you to be proud of me.”
JD Christensen would have been very, very proud Thursday when his son, who was added to the Olympic team in late January as a coaches’ pick, won a surprising gold medal as men’s slopestyle skiing made its debut.
“My father supported me since I was young and never said ‘no’ to me. I can’t thank him more for everything that he did for me,” Christensen said. “I miss him, and I hope he is proud.”
Even better, Christensen, 22, led a U.S. medal sweep, only the third time that the United States took all three places on a podium at the Winter Games.
“I am shocked. I am stoked to be up here with my friends. America, we did it.”
One too many?
Evgeni Plushenko, he of a long career filled with four Olympic medals but also 12 surgeries, gave figure skating fans an unwanted final image Thursday.
The lone Russian entrant in the men’s figure skating contest skated to the edge of the ice before his turn in the short program and told the judges he couldn’t go on. Then he turned to the crowd and waved goodbye. His career was over because his back caused him too much pain.
Bleacher Report’s Tom Weir writes “the sad and controversial fact is that Russia’s greatest-ever male figure skater hung around for one too many curtain calls in Sochi.”
Weir says Plushenko would have been better to quit after helping Russia win the team title with a short program victory.
“Plushenko could have skated off into the sunset, knowing his 2006 gold and silvers from 2002 and 2010 had secured an unparalleled legacy in his homeland,” Weir writes.
While one of the old stars made a whimpering exit, a 19-year-old wowed the crowd at the Iceberg Palace with a world record score in the short program.
Skating to “Parisian Walkways,” Yuzuru Hanyu was nearly flawless. The Japanese star leads three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada by almost four points heading into Friday’s free program.
It’s pretty easy for Mexico to pick its flag bearer at the Winter Olympics.
After all, 55-year-old alpine skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe is the team. That itself is enough to get him some media, but the dude might be the most interesting man in the world — or at least in Sochi.
He likes to compete in flamboyant outfits. In Sochi he’ll dress as a mariachi in a uniform he designed. He also speaks five languages and has released eight albums under the name Andy Himalaya. He is the son of a prince. He makes a living as a photographer.
And if you watch this interview with Piers Morgan, you’ll see he’s a pretty chill dude and a quote machine.
When asked if he had confidence he would win gold, he said he had no illusions of getting on the podium.
“No, i’m not confident to win a winter Olympic gold medal. I’m confident to, maybe, make my country proud of me,” he told CNN. “Because we’ve had a lot of negative press about other things. So this is a great way of kind of promoting Mexico in another way and giving a just a good vibe for the country, which is what it needs sometimes.”
On where he thinks the organizers went wrong:
“I think what the Russians didn’t get right is PR. They need to hire me for a PR sort of person,” he told Morgan. “They got all the construction right and it looks amazing, but they haven’t got the message out right, and they did just a couple of mistakes.”
The Russians would be hard-pressed to find a better spokesman.
Beauty and the beholder
Every two years intrepid reporters tell us how a few thousand athletic people get together for two weeks and apparently some of them have sex with newfound friends.
Shocking stuff, I tell you.
This year we have a little twist on the story of winter crushes. Technology is making it easier to hookup.
Some Olympians have downloaded an app called Tinder. The company says: “Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life, but better.”
Our friends at Bleacher Report discovered Tinder through US Weekly, which talked to snowboarder Jamie Anderson. She loved the app, saying, “There are some real cuties on there.”
But she also had to delete it until after the event to focus on winning the slopestyle competition. Now that she has gold one wonders if she’ll be reactivating her profile and adding a nice photo with her medal.
We doubt that Jacky Chamoun has a Tinder profile, especially after the controversy over pictures of the alpine skier from Lebanon.
Some outtake photos and video of her topless from a calendar shoot found their way to the Internet. Plenty of folks in Lebanon were upset, even though the country is thought to be one of the most socially liberal Arab states.
“I don’t regret doing the calendar,” she told CNN. What she wished hadn’t happened was the photos and video being leaked.
There were many people in her country that came to her defense.
“I thank her for giving, actually, a more positive image of Lebanon in a period where all we see on TV, on international news are bombings, explosions, kidnappings,” explained Lea Baroudi, head of the activist group MARCH Lebanon.
One foot is good enough
Imagine what Justyna Kowalczyk would have done to the competition if she had two good feet.
The Polish cross-country skier won the 10-kilometer cross-country ski event convincingly Thursday. She thanked her “very strong medicine.”
“(The win is) something big for me because I broke my (left) foot two weeks ago. I was fighting with myself with this injury,” she said.
The five-time Olympic medalist called it the hardest 10K race of her life. A few days ago she had to cut her toenails off, she said.
The medicine doused her pain from the fracture. Most of it.
“I felt an ache in my foot, but I overcame it. We knew what we were here for,” she said.
Norway 13, Netherlands 12, United States 12, Russia 11, Germany 10, Canada 10. See full list here.
™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.