Sochi Olympic Daily Recap: Day 0

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A grand Opening Ceremony at Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium officially kicked off the 2014 Olympic Winter Games after some competitions began yesterday.

Six of Russia’s most famous Olympians – including NBC Olympics’ own Maria Sharapova – brought the longest torch relay in Olympic history to a close.

But the honor of lighting the cauldron went to three-time gold medalists Irina Rodnina (figure skating) and Vladislav Tretyak (hockey), who completed their special task after a short jog to said cauldron outside the stadium.

Before then, a colorful Parade of Nations set the stage for a beautiful artistic portion that, in the words of the Opening Ceremony’s director, aimed to re-introduce Russia to the world.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL OPENING CEREMONY

Parts of the show included a troika pulling the Sun, an aerial display awash in red, and even a trip to the carnival. But even before it began, a Russian police choir got the crowd hyped up with a performance of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

Some of Team USA’s athletes opted not to take part in the Opening Ceremony, however, as they seek to stay focused on their upcoming events.

MORE: Must-click link – Luger nearly crashes, makes amazing save

Figure skater Ashley Wagner was one of them (though teammate Jeremy Abbott still found a way to ensure her presence at the stadium). That’s understandable considering she’s out to get the U.S. back into medal contention tomorrow in team figure skating.

Among the Americans that did attend tonight’s event was moguls skier Heidi Kloser, who insisted on doing so even though she tore her ACL and broke her right leg in a training accident yesterday. Sochi was to be her Olympic debut.

Downhill training continued with Americans Bode Miller, Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso posting solid runs. But gold medal contender Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany said today that the newly-changed Rosa Khutor alpine course has become too slow.

In hockey news, the U.S. women’s team announced Jessie Vetter as starting goaltender for their opening game tomorrow against Finland. Meanwhile, the Finnish men have to replace Tampa Bay Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula and Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who are both injured and will not compete in Sochi.

2022 Ironman Kona World Championships results

Ironman Kona World Championships
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2022 Ironman Kona World Championship top-10 results and notables (full, searchable pro and age group results are here) …

Pro Women
1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) — 8:33:46
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) — 8:41:37
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:42:22
4. Laura Philipp (GER) — 8:50:31
5. Lisa Norden (SWE) — 8:54:43
6. Fenella Langridge (GBR) — 8:56:26
7. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 9:01:58
8. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 9:02:26
9. Skye Moench (USA) — 9:04:31
10. Laura Siddall (GBR) — 9:07:49
16. Heather Jackson (USA) — 9:22:17
DNF. Sarah True (USA)

Pro Men
Race is on Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman Kona World Championship, ends American drought

Chelsea Sodaro
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Chelsea Sodaro was the surprise winner of the Ironman Kona World Championships women’s race, ending the longest American victory drought in the event’s 44-year history.

Sodaro, a 33-year-old mom to an 18-month-old, prevailed in an unofficial 8 hours, 33 minutes, 46 seconds on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” she said in a finish area interview 25 minutes later, standing next to her daughter, Skylar. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. … This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”

Sodaro was in fifth place after the 2.6-mile swim and 112-mile bike, then recorded one of the fastest 26.2-mile marathon runs in event history (2:51:45) to win by 7 minutes, 50 seconds over Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who was eyeing her sixth Ironman world title, led after the bike but faded quickly on the run.

MORE: Ironman Kona Race Results

Sodaro, whose lone previous full Ironman was a second-place finish at June’s European Championships (reportedly in the second-fastest Ironman distance debut in history), became the first American to win in Kona since Tim DeBoom in 2002 and the first American to win the women’s race since Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser in 1996.

She is the first woman or man to win in their Kona debut since Brit Chrissie Wellington took the first of her four titles in 2007.

Sodaro (née Reilly) was an All-America runner at Cal, then placed 19th in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She turned to triathlon in 2017, made podiums on the World Cup circuit (just below the top-level World Series for Olympic hopefuls) and moved up to long-distance racing in 2018.

At the half Ironman distance, she was fourth at the 2019 World Championships, her last major championship start before the pandemic, pregnancy, childbirth and a move up to the full Ironman this year.

“I’m pretty stoked that I think I maybe get to take the rest of the year off and be a mom for a month or so,” Sodaro said.

The pro men’s race is Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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