The Sochi Network

Sochi Summary Day 11: Most boring event at the Winter Games?

HOT TOPIC

Is Speed Skating's 10000m the Winter Olympics' most boring event.

The Winter Olympics is increasingly filled with 'X Games' and high octane thrills and spills so the longest event on the Speed Skating calendar seems something of an abnormally.

In recent years, the International Olympic Committee has made a number of changes to the Winter programme in an attempt to make it more appealing to younger people and it is fair to say watching two guys do 25 laps of the Adler Arena is not exactly reaching out to the kids.

Speculation about the 10k has intensified after one Russian and three Norwegian entrants pulled out of today's race - leaving a field of just 14 - to focus on the team pursuit.

"Some of the most iconic moments in speed skating were at the 10,000 metres. I think even suggesting that we should do away with this race is completely insane," said American Patrick Meek.

Given the target demographic there have been calls for a return to a mass start event for the longest distance. At the 1932 Games in New York, Americans swept the podium after organisers opted against the two-lane approach which led to a boycott by a number of European competitors.

GOOD DAY

Snowboard Cross Fighters - There were some incredible back stories to the line-up for the Snowboard Cross final and it is amazing that half of the finalists were even in Sochi. On December 21, gold medallist Pierre Vaultier went down hard in a crash in Lake Louise and tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his knee. Three weeks later his French compatriot Paul-Henri de le Rue was placed in an induced coma after landing on his head in a crash in Andorra. Stian Sivertzen had a tear in his aorta and cracked his pelvis, neck and lower back in a crash in 2009 and developed a clot on his brain after surgery which resulted in him suffering a stroke. He was in a coma for five days and had to learn how to walk again before getting back on skis. They are made of strong stuff in Snowboard Cross.

Pierre de Coubertin - The Olympic spirit was epitomised in the women's giant slalom which had 90 starters, including violinist Vanessa Mae representing Thailand. She left the hut 87th behind skiers from the US Virgin Islands, Togo and Morocco. Mae, world ranked number 2253, completed her second run two seconds quicker than the first to finish 67th and last, 50 seconds behind winner Tina Maze. Two places higher was Malta's first-ever Winter Olympian, Elise Pellegrin, who was was born and raised in the region of Loir-et-Cher in France but whose great-grandfather was born in Malta. Alessia Afi Dipol of Togo was rapid in comparison, only finishing 25.93 seconds behind the gold medallist in 55th place.

David Murdoch - Britain's men's curling skip kept his nerve to overcome the trial by trouser against Norway to reach the semi-finals. Murdoch’s rink of Michael Goodfellow, Scott Andrews and Greg Drummond could have booked their place on Sunday but they were beaten 7-6 by Norway. They were looking for revenge and it all boiled down to the final stone and a bit of bottle. They could have gone for one to take the match to extra ends or go for glory. Two-time world champion Murdoch, from Lockerbie, executed the double take-out to GB will face Sweden on Thursday. They can take heart from Rhona Martin's rink in 2002 who won successive tie-break matches just to reach the semi-finals before winning gold.

BAD DAY

Nate Holland - The American has won seven X Games gold medals in snowboard cross, but is now zero for three at the Olympics. His fourth-place finish in 2010 in Vancouver - he crashed going for a pass that might have landed him gold - pushed him to compete four years on but he didn't even make it past his initial heat. He went too big off a jump and lost all his speed, dropping him from second to fourth. Holland broke his collarbone in December and for the third Games in a row his Games ended with a crash. Holland finished 14th in Torino in 2006 after yet another wipeout.

Charles Hamelin - The Canadian is ranked in the world's top three in all three individual events in Short Track and things started superbly for the double Vancouver gold medallist when he won the 1500m. But he fell during his quarter-final in the 1000m when he lost his balance during a corner and then his bid for relay gold ended when his brother Francois lost an edge and crashed into the boards. His Sochi campaign ended today when he overshot a corner again, when comfortably ahead on the final lap of his 500m heat. It came a few minutes after his girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais had just finished last in her heat, elbowed off her skates by an opponent.

Lyman Currier - The 19-year-old American made it to the Olympics at the same age his father was when he was a downhill skier in the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. However things went badly wrong for the teenager in the half pipe. He drifted out of the pipe on the first trick of his first run and took a heavy slam. He dusted himself down for the second run but when he landed a trick, he planted his skis and his body fell backwards, twisting his knee. He slid down the pipe grasping his left knee. Currier, who has previously torn an ACL, found his father in the crowd and simply said: “It popped,” and collapsed in his dad’s arms.

BRITS IN ACTION

Skip David Murdoch and his rink of Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow and Greg Drummond reached the semi-finals of the men's curling with a dramatic 6-5 win over Norway.

Short track speed skater Elise Christie briefly considered ending her Olympic campaign after two disqualifications but returned to the ice to produce a sparkling qualifying performance to advance to Friday's 1000m quarter-finals.

Jon Eley bounced back from a disappointing performance over 1000m to make the next round of the 500m later this week. However, Jack Whelbourne - while showing no effects from his ankle injury after falling in the 1000m final - failed to progress.

Murray Buchan and James Machon failed to make the inaugural freestyle skiing half pipe final. Scot Buchan finished 17th of 28 while Machon was 23rd. Only the top 12 made the final.

Paula Walker and Bex Wilson are in 12th place in the women's bobsleigh at halfway. Pilot Walker is making her second Olympic appearance alongside brakewoman Wilson.

GOLD MEDALS AWARDED TODAY

Snowboarding: Snowboard Cross - Pierre Vaultier (France)
Alpine Skiing: Ladies' Giant Slalom - Tina Maze (Slovenia)
Short Track: Ladies' 3000m Relay - South Korea
Biathlon: Men's Mass Start - Emil Hegle Svendsen (Norway)
Nordic Combined: Large Hill - Joergen Graabak (Norway)
Speed Skating: Men's 10000m - Jorrit Bergsma (Netherlands)
Freestyle Skiing: Men's Halfpipe - David Wise (United States)

IMAGE OF THE DAY

France's Benoit Valentin competes during the men's freestyle skiing half pipe.

TWEET OF THE DAY

DON'T MISS TOMORROW

Eve Muirhead has already captured European and world titles to add to her four victories at the world junior championships — can she top the lot by winning Olympic gold by the age of 23? Britain's women's curling team take on Canada in the semi-finals.

BIG NAMES IN ACTION

American Ted Ligety looks to get his Olympics into motion in the men's giant slalom which also features Austrian Marcel Hirscher who excels in the technical disciplines.

Marit Bjoergen of Norway won three golds in Vancouver four years ago, and added a fourth in the opening 15km. She bids for a ninth career Olympic medal in the women's team sprint.

The women's figure skating is one of the blue-riband events of the Olympics and defending champion Kim Yuna, who is skating for the last time before retiring at the age of 23, takes on local darling Julia Lipnitskaya.

YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF THEM BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE

Patrizia Kummer - The Swiss has won two of the three World Cup Parallel Giant Slaloms this season and she will start the Snowboarding event as favourite.

GOLD MEDALS ON OFFER

10:30: Alpine Skiing - Men's Giant Slalom
10:31: Snowboarding - Ladies' Parallel Giant Slalom
10:35: Snowboarding - Men's Parallel Giant Slalom
11:45: Cross Country Skiing - Ladies' Team Sprint Classic
12:15: Cross Country Skiing - Men's Team Sprint Classic
13:30: Speed Skating - Ladies' 5000 m
14:30: Biathlon - Mixed Relay
17:25: Bobsleigh - Women's