sport

Bjoergen grabs first gold

Marit Bjoergen's quest to win six medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics began on Saturday with victory in the women's cross country skiathlon.

The Norwegian, who won five medals in Vancouver four years ago, has designs on eclipsing the all-time Winter Games medal record of 12 held by compatriot Bjorn Daehlie over the coming fortnight.

And that challenge began in superb fashion with the successful defence of her 7.5km + 7.5km skiathlon title at the dramatic Laura Endurance Center.

Bjoergen, 33, completed the gruelling race in 38 minutes 33.6 seconds to finish 1.8 secs ahead of Sweden's Charlotte Kalla.

Norway finished with three racers in the top four, with Heidi Weng (38:46.8) claiming the final podium spot ahead of Therese Johaug.

The result means the Scandinavian nation are the early pace-setters in the medal table, having also secured a silver in the first ever snowboard slopestyle event, which was won by Sage Kotsenburg of the United States.

A nigh-flawless first run saw Kotsenburg register a score of 93.50 and that proved too tough to beat for his fellow competitors, with Norway's Staale Sandbech winning silver and pre-tournament favourite Mark McMorris of Canada bronze.

Kotsenburg said afterwards: "I'm really excited. It feels awesome.

"I don't know what to call it. I have no idea what's actually going on. This is the craziest thing that ever happened."

The women's ice hockey also got under way on Saturday, with the United States beating Finland 3-1 in the opening Group A qualifier in Shayba Arena.

Hilary Knight opened the scoring for USA after just 53 seconds, with goals from Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter building a solid lead in the second period.

Finland's late reply came from Susanna Tapani but the damage had already been done.