Sochi Olympic Daily Recap, Medal Count: Day 2

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Russia’s team of figure skaters are the toast of their nation after Day 2 of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But there were plenty of other stars that shined brightly on Sunday.

We’ll start off at the Iceberg Skating Palace, which rocked with cheers after the Russians – powered by Yevgeny Plushenko and Yulia Lipnitskaya (pictured) – won the inaugural gold medal in the Olympic team figure skating competition. Team USA, led by Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s winning effort in the free dance, earned the bronze…

Attending that competition was Russian president Vladimir Putin, who cheered along with the rest of the crowd inside the Iceberg for their country. Meanwhile, Plushenko, still brash as ever, delivered a short and sweet message to his critics.

The gold was Russia’s first such medal in Sochi, while the U.S. added its second as Jamie Anderson won the women’s title in another new Olympic competition, snowboard slopestyle. The victory completed a U.S. sweep of the new discipline following Sage Kotsenburg’s Saturday triumph on the men’s side…

The slopestyle action took turns that were both humorous and scary. Anna Gasser of Austria had a comical, stumbling start to her first run, while Czech rider Sarka Pancochova took a nasty fall that split her helmet; thankfully, she got up and completed her trek down the course…

Alpine skiing got underway in Sochi with the men’s downhill. Bode Miller of the U.S. was looking like a gold medal contender after several great training days, but ultimately failed to hit the podium. While Miller struggled, Austria’s Matthias Mayer captured the gold ahead of a exuberant silver medalist in Italy’s Christof Innerhofer

MORE: Complete Team USA rundown from Day 2

Felix Loch of Germany won a second consecutive gold in men’s luge, while bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy made history by becoming the first Olympian to win six consecutive medals in the same individual event. Finishing with the silver was Russia’s Albert Demtschenko, who earned his second overall Olympic medal…

Also grabbing golds today were Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust in the women’s 3000m, Slovakian biathlete Anastasiya Kuzmina in the women’s sprint, Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna in the men’s skiathlon, and Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch in the men’s normal hill

After taking down Finland in their first contest with Jessie Vetter as goalie, the U.S. women’s hockey team announced that they will put Molly Schaus between the pipes for their next game against the Swiss…

Social media also continued to buzz around the Olympics. Boston Bruins star and Slovakia defenseman Zdeno Chara is becoming a legitimate photo op for his fellow OlympiansThe Twittersphere tried to cheer up Bode Miller after his tough day on the slopes…And the father of U.S. luger Tucker West has fueled the #TeamTucker movement after revealing on TODAY that his son was “very single” and “a little shy.”

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 9
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)
1. Norway – 2/1/4 – 7
2. Netherlands – 2/1/1 – 4
3. United States – 2/0/2 – 4
T-4. Canada – 1/2/1 – 4
T-4. Russia – 1/2/1 – 4
6. Austria – 1/1/0 – 2
T-7. Germany – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Poland – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Switzerland – 1/0/0 – 1
11. Sweden – 0/2/0 – 2
T-12. Czech Republic – 0/1/1 – 2
T-12. Italy – 0/1/1 – 2
T-14. Finland – 0/1/0 – 1
T-14. Slovenia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-16. Great Britain – 0/0/1 – 1
T-16. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

Simone Biles surprises world’s oldest gymnast on NBC

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The world’s greatest gymnast meets the world’s oldest gymnast on NBC’s “Little Big Shots: Forever Young” on Wednesday.

Simone Biles surprises German Johanna Quaas, the Guinness World Record holder for oldest gymnast at the age of 91.

More on Quaas here.

The oldest gymnast Biles has competed against was Oksana Chusovitina, the Uzbek who competed at her gymnastics record seventh Olympics in Rio at age 41.

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Olympic champions chasing world records face tests in Paris

Omar McLeod, Devon Allen
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Omar McLeod and Christian Taylor, both on world-record quests this season, face their top challengers at a Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday.

McLeod, the 110m hurdles gold medalist, the triple jump champion Taylor and sprint queen Elaine Thompson headline the Paris meet, live on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and 2 p.m. on NBCSN.

McLeod, who last Saturday ran the fastest 110m hurdles in five years, could take aim at the world record as part of a field including the five fastest men in the world this year.

Taylor faces Will Claye in the most anticipated head-to-head in Paris. Taylor relegated countryman Claye to silver at the last two Olympics, but Claye won the U.S. title last weekend with a personal-best leap.

Olympic 100m and 200m champion Thompson is coming off winning the Jamaican 100m title in 10.71 seconds last week, .01 off her shared national record.

Athletes are preparing for the world championships in London in August.

Paris start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

1:08 p.m. — Men’s high jump
1:25 p.m. — Women’s shot put
1:32 p.m. — Men’s pole vault
2:03 p.m. — Women’s 400m
2:14 p.m. — Men’s 3000m
2:29 p.m. — Women’s 100m
2:35 p.m. — Men’s javelin
2:38 p.m. — Men’s triple jump
2:40 p.m. — Men’s 800m
2:50 p.m. — Men’s 100m
3 p.m. — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
3:25 p.m. — Men’s 110m hurdles
3:40 p.m. — Women’s 1500m
3:52 p.m. — Men’s 200m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s Pole Vault — 1:32 p.m. ET

World-record holder Renaud Lavillenie is the only French track and field athlete to take Olympic gold in the last 20 years (at the 2012 London Games), so he is certainly the crowd favorite across all events Saturday.

That said, Lavillenie is not the favorite. He was third in a domestic competition on Wednesday, failing to clear 5.71 meters, which wasn’t an Olympic medal height. Lavillenie, the Rio silver medalist, was beaten by Sam Kendricks, the Rio bronze medalist, at two previous Diamond League meets this season. Kendricks, who just cleared six meters for the first time at the U.S. Championships last week, is in the Paris field.

Women’s 100m — 2:29 p.m. ET

Thompson has won 14 straight 100m events that she’s finished, according to Tilastopaja.org, and the two-year streak should extend here. The question is whether she can break 10.7 for the first time to claim the Jamaican record outright and move into solo third on the all-time list.

The field does not include her biggest threat at the world championships — Rio silver medalist Tori Bowie — but present are Ivorians Murielle Ahoure (ranked No. 3 in the world this year) and Marie-Josee Ta Lou (fourth at the Olympics).

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:38 p.m. ET

Taylor’s three losses since July 2014 have come to either Claye or Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo. Here, he faces both of them in a final for the first time since 2013, but Claye is the clear challenger.

Taylor ranks No. 1 in the world this year with his 18.11-meter jump from the Prefontaine Classic on May 27, just 18 centimeters off the world record he covets.

Claye is on a roll, having gone at least 17 meters in all 12 of his competition jumps this year, including a personal-best 17.91 to win the U.S. title last week (Taylor didn’t have to compete at nationals as he had a world championships bye). Claye also jumped 18.05 with slightly too much tailwind at Pre. Claye has the second-through-sixth best triple jumps in the world this year.

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase — 3 p.m. ET

Fresh off another U.S. title, Olympic bronze medalist Emma Coburn takes aim at Olympic champion and world-record holder Ruth Jebet of Bahrain and 18-year-old phenom Celliphine Chespol of Kenya.

Jebet, a Kenyan-born 20-year-old, has looked shaky this year, finishing third in two of three Diamond League starts. But the only women to beat her were Kenyans. Including Chespol, who won the Pre Classic in the second-fastest time ever despite stopping to fix her shoe.

Coburn was routinely finishing 10 seconds behind Jebet in 2016, but at Pre managed to close the gap to four seconds, running three tenths shy of her American record from Rio.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 3:25 p.m. ET

There will be two early heats to qualify into this final, but expect McLeod to lead the field. The Olympic champion broke his national record in lowering his personal best by seven hundredths at the Jamaican Championships last week.

McLeod ran 12.90 seconds, but spoke confidently afterward, reportedly saying his target was actually 12.85. Nonetheless, it was the fastest time in the world since Aries Merritt set the current world record of 12.80 in 2012.

Merritt isn’t in this field, but McLeod is joined by the other four fastest men in the world this year — France’s Garfield Darien, Jamaican Ronald Levy, South African Antonio Alkana and the American Allen.

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