The Sochi Network

Sochi Summary Day 8: Conspiracy theories abound

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Austria's Anna Fenninger survived the Super-G carnage to take gold

HOT TOPIC

The toughness of the Super-G course.

Super-G presents different challenges from the downhill. The gates are set by one team's coach the day before and racers must assess it during an early morning 45 minute race-day inspection.

It tests skiers' ability to adapt quickly and at speed although when you have a blind jump, followed by steep, icy terrain that has been treated with chemicals to make it a super slick that time to adapt becomes miniscule.

When seven of the first eight starters failed to finish, wags on social media began suggesting someone could snowplough down and take a medal. Of course word began to reach the start hut on what line to take off the 'Solitary Jump' to deal with the super tough next six turns and 31 of the 49 women completed the course.

Austrian coach Florian Winkler had set the course, none of his women started before bib 13 and they took gold and bronze - cue conspiracy theories. "I'm not saying it was easy for (the Austrians). But maybe it was easier," Italy's Daniela Merighetti, who started third but did not make it to the finish line, said.

GOOD DAY

Charlotte Kalla - The Swede became the first person to win three medals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games with a final relay leg that Kriss Akabusi would have been proud of. Kalla almost singlehandedly (but not literally as a BBC Snowboarder might say) earned Sweden its first gold at Sochi in the women's Cross Country 4x5km relay. She started in third, 25.7 seconds back, but produced an amazing final leg to snatch the victory. She gradually cut into the lead in a perfectly timed leg and came through the inside on the very final turn before outsprinting her German and Finnish rivals - she was promptly mobbed by her team-mates and rightly so.

Slovenian Ice Hockey - If you are a registered ice hockey player in Slovenia, you have a one in six chance of being on their Olympic team. The tiny Central European republic only has one professional team, seven hockey rinks and 148 senior hockey players - of whom only one is in the NHL - in their population of under two million. However the 17th best team in the world scored a 3-1 upset win over Slovakia who have 15 NHL players in their ranks. With this unlikely win under their belts, the Slovenians are more than ready for their final group stage game on Sunday against the US.

Victor An - He became the first man to win Olympic golds for two different countries, not politically or constitutionally related, as he earned Russia's first-ever Short Track gold in the 1000m. The skater formerly known as Ahn Hyun-soo became the first ever short track speed skater to win four Olympic medals at a single games in Turin but took on Russian citizenship two years ago and became Victor An when he fell out with the South Korean speed skating federation after failing to win a spot for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He was the five-time overall world champion from 2003 to 2007 but a violent crash during training in 2008 ended his winning streak. However he bounced back for his adopted homeland, leading home a Russia 1-2 ahead of Vladimir Grigoryev.

BAD DAY

Elise Christie - The British short-track skater was forced to deleted her Twitter account after online abuse in the wake of her disqualification in the 500m final earlier this week. The Scot finished second but was DQ'd for wiping out Arianna Fontana and things went from bad to worse in the 1500m. The Nottingham-based skater darted through the inside to win her heat but then mysteriously the result showed she had been thrown out again. After about 15 minutes of head scratching, it was revealed that Christie was inside the track by about 5cm on the final straight so did not finish the race. Christie's coach Nicky Gooch commented: "I've seen it called before but it doesn't happen normally and I was really shocked. I've looked at the video and we're talking centimetres here. To the letter of the law it's probably right."

Norwegian wax - Norway's women were one of the hottest favourites in the entire Games in the 4x5km Cross Country relay and you would have got a best price 1/14 with the bookies this morning. Heidi Weng won bronze in the Skiathlon and was on the opening leg, Therese Johaug - fourth in the Skiathlon and third in the 10km - followed. Then Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, fourth in the sprint, and Skiathlon champion Marit Bjoergen were on the freestyle legs. They had not lost a women's relay since November 2009, surely they could not be beaten? But Norway could do no better than fifth with a fresh-looking Johaug marching away after her leg, shaking her head. "I think that we didn't have the best skis today and everybody saw that," she told reporters. "But we did our best and the guys in the (waxing) cabin did their best too. We have to look forward to the next competition." We are not sure she will be buying the guys in the cabin a drink tonight.

Maria Komissarova - The dangers of Winter Sports was brought sharply into view as the Russian freestyle skier broke her spine in a horrific training crash. Doctors operated on the skicross racer after the 23-year-old was seriously hurt in training. Komissarova's accident comes two days after a track worker was struck by a bobsleigh, suffering two broken legs. Komissarova's crash marks the first major athlete accident in Sochi. Four years ago in Vancouver, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a crash during a training run on the day of the opening ceremony.

BRITS IN ACTION

Charlotte Gilmartin, like Elise Christie, went out in the heats of the 1500m after finishing fifth in heat three.

Team GB women’s rink of skip Eve Muirhead, Vicki Adams, Anna Sloan and Claire Hamilton began the day with a 10-8 victory against Korea before going down 8-6 against Switzerland. As the round-robin stages nears its conclusion, the team has a record of four wins and three defeats and are in a three-way tie for third with the top four reaching the semi-finals.

The men's curlers of David Murdoch, Scott Andrews, Greg Drummond and Michael Goodfellow lost 7-5 to Olympic champions Canada after Murdoch failed to execute a double take-out with the final stone. They can still book a semi-final spot with a win over Norway on Sunday morning.

Chemmy Alcott finished 23rd in the women's Super-G in her final Olympic race at her fourth Games. She was aiming for an eighth top 20 at the Olympics.

Kristan Bromley, competing at his fourth Olympics, finished eighth and Dom Parsons two places lower in the men's skeleton.

GOLD MEDALS AWARDED TODAY

Alpine Skiing: Ladies' Super-G - Anna Fenninger (Austria)
Cross Country: Ladies' 4 x 5km Relay - Sweden
Short Track: Ladies' 1500m - Zhou Yang (China)
Short Track: Men's 1000m - Victor An (Russia)
Speed Skating: Men's 1500m - Zbigniew Brodka (Poland)
Skeleton - Men's - Alexander Tretiakov (Russia)
Ski Jumping: Men's Large Hill - Kamil Stoch (Poland)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

John Daly's reaction after a horror start costs him the chance of a skeleton medal

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TWEET OF THE DAY

DON'T MISS TOMORROW

It has been described as a "roller derby on snow" and the only thing certain about snowboard cross is the sheer upredictability of it. Lindsey Jacobellis, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when she attempted a showboating method grab when leading the Turin final, is in action.

BIG NAMES IN ACTION

The biggest names in Alpine Skiing, Aksel Lund Svindal and Bode Miller, get another chance to break their Sochi medal duck in the Super-G and the Norwegian starts as favourite.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen has another chance to become the most successful Olympian in the history of the Winter Games as he bids for a 13th medal in Biathlon's mass start.

Veteran pilots Steve Holcomb, Alexander Zubkov and Beat Hefti renew acquaintances as the opening two runs of the men's two-man Bobsleigh take place.

YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF THEM BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE

Winston Watts is the driver of the Jamaican bobsleigh that returns to Olympic competition for the first time in 12 years and has rekindled memories of the 1988 Calgary Games, when the Caribbean nation beat the odds to qualify, inspiring the cult movie 'Cool Runnings'.

GOLD MEDALS ON OFFER

07:00 - Alpine Skiing: Men's Super-G
09:40 - Snowboarding: Ladies' Snowboard Cross
10:00 - Cross Country: Men's 4 x 10km Relay
14:00 - Speed Skating: Ladies' 1500m
15:00 - Biathlon: Men's 15km Mass Start

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