Sochi 2014, Day 15: What’s on this Saturday?

The penultimate day of Sochi 2014 kicks off with a new Olympic event, as Rosa Khutor Extreme Park hosts the men’s and women’s snowboard parallel slalom competitions. At around the same time, the world’s leading female cross-country skiers will set off for the 30km mass start, which will be followed by the men’s 4x7.5km biathlon relay, with the men’s and women’s speed skating team pursuit competitions then taking place at the Adler Arena. In Alpine skiing, meanwhile, it is men’s slalom day at Rosa Khutor, while there is a bronze medal up for grabs in men’s ice hockey at the Bolshoi Ice Dome. Finally, the four-man bobsleigh competition gets up and running at the Sanki Sliding Centre with the teams completing legs one and two.

Flashback to Vancouver 2010Cross-country divas Bjørgen (NOR) and Kowalczyk (POL) serve up a sprint to remember

Cross-country skiing, women’s 30km mass start : Norway’s Marit Bjørgen and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk went into this event with a clutch of medals already to their name and showed their class by pulling clear of the field with eight kilometres remaining. Arriving side by side in the stadium at Whistler, they then served up a memorable sprint that Kowalczyk edged by three tenths of a second. Finland’s Aino Kaisa-Saarinen came in third over a minute behind. Despite the subsequent switch from classic to freestyle in this event, Bjørgen and Kowalczyk are likely to lead the charge for the podium again in Sochi.

Speed skating, men’s and women’s team pursuit : In the men’s competition Canada (Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky and Denny Morrison) edged out USA (Brian Hansen, Chad Hedrick and Jonathan Kuck) by 0.21 seconds in the gold medal race, while the Netherlands (Jan Blokhuijsen, Sven Kramer and Simon Kuipers) set a new Olympic record of 3:39.95 to take bronze from Norway

Meanwhile, Germany (Daniela Anschütz-Thoms, Stephanie Beckert and Katrin Mattscherodt) shaded the women’s final against Japan (Masako Hozumi, Nao Kodaira and Maki Tabata) by 0.02 seconds, with Poland (Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus, Katarzyna Wozniak and Luiza Zlotkowska) beating USA in the battle for bronze. After a show of strength in the individual events in Sochi, the Dutch will be hot favourites to take gold in both men’s and women’s team events.

Biathlon, men’s 4x7.5km relay: The Norwegian quartet of Halvard Hannevold, Tarjei Bø, Emil Hegle Svendsen and Ole Einar Bjørndalen scored a crushing win that was sealed when Bjørndalen swept clear after the final prone shoot, the anchorman cruising over the line with his country’s flag in his hand. It was the sixth gold medal of his illustrious Olympic career. Austria (Simon Eder, Daniel Mesotitsch, Dominik Landerfinger and Christoph Sumann) beat Russia (Ivan Tcherezov, Anton Shipulin, Maxim Tchoudov and Yevgeny Ustyugov) to silver, with Sumann getting the better of Ustyugov in a scintillating sprint finish. Having already helped Norway win gold in the new mixed relay in Sochi, Svendsen and Bjørndalen will again spearhead the men’s quartet, who will be strong favourites to retain their title.

Alpine skiing, men’s slalom: Italy’s Giuliano Razzoli produced a flowing first run on the 66-gate course at Whistler Creekside, earning himself a handsome lead of 0.43 seconds. Andre Myrhrer of Sweden posted the fastest time on the second run to climb up from tenth to the bronze-medal position, while Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic briefly moved into the lead, only for Razzoli to hold his nerve and win the final Alpine skiing event of the Vancouver Games by 0.16 seconds In Sochi, Austria’s World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher will be the skier to beat as he goes looking for his first Olympic title, while slalom specialists Alexis Pinturault of France and German Felix Neurather will be among the other competitors in contention for the podium.

Ice hockey, men’s bronze-medal match : Ice hockey, men’s bronze-medal match: Just as they did in the women’s competition, Finland secured the bronze by overcoming Slovakia 5-3 at Vancouver’s Canada Hockey Palace. The Finns will once again contest the bronze medal match in Sochi, this time taking on the USA, after the two sides lost their semi-finals to Sweden and Canada respectively.

This event is making its Olympic debut at Sochi 2014.