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Five competition highlights at Winter Games in Sochi

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 10:12 PM EST, Sat February 8, 2014
Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring Canada's second goal during the men's ice hockey gold medal match against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. Most of us know the Winter Olympics through the power of television, as a spectacle in constant motion. Seeing the Games through still photography is a different experience altogether. Here's a look at the most compelling images from the word's best photographers at Sochi 2014. | <i>More photos:</i> <i><a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/08/worldsport/gallery/falling-down-in-sochi/index.html'>Falling down in Sochi </a></i> Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring Canada's second goal during the men's ice hockey gold medal match against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. Most of us know the Winter Olympics through the power of television, as a spectacle in constant motion. Seeing the Games through still photography is a different experience altogether. Here's a look at the most compelling images from the word's best photographers at Sochi 2014. | More photos: Falling down in Sochi
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. snowboarder wins first gold of Games, becomes first champ in a new event
  • Dutch sweep podium in 5,000-meter speed skating
  • Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen wins 12th Winter Games medal
  • Canadian sisters take gold, silver in moguls

(CNN) -- The Sochi Olympics began distributing their precious metals Saturday, and there were surprises, including one in favor of Team USA.

An American won gold, the only one for the team for the day.

For those keeping count, the day went to Norway, which hauled in four medals, including two gold. Then came Canada and The Netherlands, which three each -- one in each category (gold, silver, bronze).

The United States won two medals. Countries winning one medal were Sweden, Canada, Austria and Czech Republic.

U.S. claims its first Olympic gold medal
Flash brief: Sochi Olympics
Sneak peek into Sochi's Alpine Village

Here are five highlights.

1. Dark horse winner

Hey, America, the first gold medal awarded in the Winter Games went to Team USA's Sage Kotsenburg. It was in men's slopestyle, and he faced a tough field that favored a Canadian athlete for gold.

But the Olympics are about exceptional performances -- rendered more dramatic when an underdog soars above the favorite -- and Kotsenburg indeed excelled.

He scored 93.5 on his first of two runs in Saturday's final. How good was that? Only Norway's Staale Sandbech, who won silver, eclipsed the 90-point mark, with 91.75. Mark McMorris of Canada took bronze.

The favorite, Max Parrot, also Canadian, finished fifth.

It was also a historic moment: Men's slopestyle is a first-ever event for the Winter Olympics. It features high-flying acrobatics on multiple jumps on a downhill slope that stirred early controversy about whether it was too dangerous.

It wasn't a bad day for Kostenburg: the first Olympic champion in snowboarding slopestyle and the first gold of the Sochi Games.

"It feels like a dream right now," Kotsenburg said. "I really didn't think it would happen.

"I'm so stoked to be here," he added. "Bringing home the gold is just icing on the cake."

2. Indomitable Dutch

Skaters from The Netherlands took the entire podium in men's 5,000-meter speed skating.

If that wasn't enough, gold medal winner Sven Kramer scored a repeat: He also won gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Kramer also posted a new Olympic record time, at 6:10.76.

Call him a flying Dutchman.

Jan Blokhuijsen took silver (4.95 seconds behind), and the bronze winner was Jorrit Bergsma (5.90 seconds behind).

It was a triple Dutch treat.

3. A Nordic runaway

The Norweigans' haul of four medals Saturday was boosted by the gold-medal performance of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in the men's 10-kilometer sprint biathlon. The event combines shooting and cross-country skiing.

Bjoerndalen, in his Winter Games career, has a total of 12 medals (seven gold, four silver and one bronze).

With whom does he share the honor? Another Norwegian, Bjorn Dahlie, who won eight golds and four 4 silvers in the Albertville, Lillehammer and Nagano Games.

4. Women's skiathon

The Norwegian women nearly swept the skiathon, with Marit Bjoergen taking gold and Heidi Weng winning bronze. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden won silver.

Bjoergen has now won a total of eight Olympic medals, including five (three of them gold) at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

The skiathlon features a 7.5-kilometer "classic" ski, where there are already grooves in the snow for skiers to follow, and a 7.5-kilometer "free" ski, with no grooves.

The top American in the contest was Jessica Diggins, who came in eighth. Then again, no American has ever won a medal in the competition. It used to be called the pursuit and has been in the Olympics since 1992.

5. Women's moguls

Sure, the Dutch domination was impressive in men's speed skating, but get this: Two sisters from Canada took the top two medals in skiing's moguls.

That meant defending champion Hannah Kearney of the United States lost her bid to repeat. Still, Kearney finished in the money: she won the remaining medal, bronze.

Gold went Justine Dufour-Lapointe, 19.

Chloe Dufour-Lapointe won the silver.

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