The Sochi Network

32 Days to Sochi: Olympic Form Guide

The Sochi Network

World Cup action resumed after the Christmas break in nine of the 15 Winter Olympics sports last week with the Sochi Games looming in just over a month's time.

Here's the significant takeaways from the past week in Winter Sports.


Britain's last four Winter Olympic medals have come in either Curling or Skeleton and whilst hopes are high in those events, GB have a medal contender in Freestyle Skiing in the form of James Woods.

There was no action in Woods' Slopestyle event this weekend in Calgary but another Brit came to the fore with teenager Rowan Cheshire pulling off a sensational World Cup victory in the Halfpipe.

The 18-year-old from Stoke had never finished higher than 10th in a World Cup event before but burst into the medal reckoning with victory in Canada albeit in the absence of the four American women who came first and second in the first two contests of the season - Devin Logan, Angeli Vanlaanen, Brita Sigourney and Maddie Bowman.

She is also the first Briton to win a freestyle World Cup gold since Jill Curry's aerials victory in 1992 with a home sweep in the other events: Mikaël Kingsbury and Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Moguls) and Justin Dorey (Men's Half Pipe).


Lizzy Yarnold's quest to follow in the footsteps of Shelley Rudman and Amy Williams and claim an Olympic Skeleton medal was boosted by her third World Cup win of the season in Winterberg.

The Sevenoaks slider beat arch-rival Noelle Pikus-Pace, who has won the other two World Cup events this term, by 0.57 seconds faster to increase her lead at the top of the standings.

Rudman was ninth while on the men's side it was a Latvian 1-2 with the Dukurs brothers, Martins and Tomass, top of the podium.

Martins has won the last four World Cup overall titles and will start as favourite for gold in Sochi although local hope Alexander Tretiakov will be a strong challenger.


It was a quiet week with just the women's slalom in Bormio where American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin took her second World Cup win of the season.

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The 18-year-old World Champion from Colorado beat Swede Maria Pietilae-Holmner and France's Nastasja Noens with Marlies Schild (Austria), who has won this season's other two events, down in sixth.

However more doubts were cast over Lindsey Vonn's participation at the Sochi Olympics as she recovers from a knee injury.

US coach Alex Hoedelmoser said: "Her knee is very swollen and it's impossible for her to consider skiing for now. It totally depends on how she recovers, how the knee feels, if she gets the strength back, the stability in the knee but the Sochi course is not very difficult and would suit her ideally in normal circumstances."

There is a men's slalom at the Italian resort tonight.


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The prestigious Tour de Ski, the seven-stage event over nine days modelled on the Tour de France, came to a conclusion with Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby becoming the first Norwegians to win the event.

Johaug will hope she follows in the footsteps of Justyna Kowalczyk, who won the 2010 Tour de Ski before claiming gold in Vancouver.

The 30km event in Sochi is in freestyle, the technique in which Johaug won the 2011 World title.


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The 21-year-old Austrian Thomas Diethart is the surprise leader going into the final stanza of the prestigious Four Hills competition in Bischofshofen tonight.

Diethart posted the longest jump in both rounds at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in southern Germany on New Year's Day and leads double-double Olympic champion Simon Ammann by 9.4 points.

However you have to go back to 1998 when Kazuyoshi Funaki won gold in Nagano for the last time a Four Hills champion won an Olympic gold in the same year.


Defending overall World Cup champion Martin Fourcade and Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen cemented their positions as the men to beat in Sochi by splitting the victories in Oberhof.

Svendsen, a double gold medallist in Vancouver, won the sprint and pursuit before the Frenchman won the mass start - the one and only World Cup event in that discipline before the Games.

There was a welcome return to form for the most decorated biathlete of all-time, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The winner of 11 Olympic medals was second in both the sprint and pursuit and could have recorded just his second World Cup win in three years had it not been for a blip on his final visit to the range in the latter race.

Norway's Tora Berger, the defending World Cup overall champion, won her first race of the season in the women's mass start with Belarus' Darya Domracheva, who claimed the sprint and pursuit races on Friday and Saturday, finishing third.


Steven Holcomb's winning run came to an end in Winterberg. The American, who had won the first seven World Cup races of the season, was seventh in the two-man and 20th - having crashed in the second run - and seventh again in the four-man.

Swiss veteran Beat Hefti, a three-time Olympic medallist, claimed the two-man event while Germany's Max Arndt did the double in the four-man event on home ice.

John James Jackson, who raised hopes of a first British Bob medal since 1998 with a second place in the 4-man event in Lake Placid before Christmas, was a disappointing 15th and 14th.

Germany's Turin gold medallist Sandra Kiriasis drove to victory on her home track on Sunday - her first of the season - after Canada's Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers had split the four pre-Christmas events in North America.


Germany have won 27 of the 40 golds in Olympic Luge history and took a clean sweep in Königssee.

Felix Loch took his third World Cup win of the season, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt their fifth in the doubles and Natalie Geisenberger made it six from six on the women's side to confirm their status as favourites for gold in Russia.

The four then combined to win the team relay to give Germany strong hopes of a gold clean sweep in Sochi.


The one World Cup event to be held in Russia was largely snubbed by the big names as Tim Hug of Switzerland and Wilhelm Denifl of Austria took advantage of weakened fields to claim their first World Cup victories in Chaikovskiy.

The top 10 in the standings going into the weekend, including Sochi favourites Eric Frenzel of Germany and France's Jason Lamy Chappuis, declined the trip to the Ural mountains.

*The Snowboard World Cup returns next weekend and there is also the European Allround Speed Skating Championships. The Short Track World Cup season and Figure Skating Grand Prix campaigns have already come to an end and there are no major international competitions scheduled in Curling or Ice Hockey before Sochi.

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