The 2014 Olympic Winter Games: Snapshots

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Olympic Winter Games show us the best aspects of athleticism, competition and pageantry every four years. Competition is in full swing in Sochi, Russia and, as usual, the athletes are the star attractions. Read on for a look at some of the most compelling images from the first few days of the 2014 Olympiad.

The Air Out There

Sage Kotsenburg soars into the stratosphere during the qualifying runs for the men's snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi. The American took home the first gold of the 2014 Winter Olympics thanks to the "1620 Japan Air Mute Grab," a trick he said he had never attempted in competition before nailing it during his first Olympic run.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Teamwork on Ice

Team figure skating made its debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics, with men's, women's and pairs skaters competing together for the first time. American pairs skaters Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were the first of their countrymen to take to the ice in their quest to shine in the sport's Olympic debut. They finished fifth in their qualification skate and eventually picked up the bronze.

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

One Ring Short

Not everything went perfectly during the opening ceremonies. While four illuminated snowflakes transformed into Olympic rings as intended, the fifth ring failed to follow orders and remained missing.

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Great Historical Moments

Most opening ceremonies highlight the host country's history, and the opening of the 2014 Winter Games was no exception. Russian history and culture were front and center throughout the pageantry, including these dancers representing the era of Peter the Great.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Carrying the Flag

Todd Lodwick had the honor of leading the U.S. delegation into the stadium as America's flag bearer for the opening ceremonies. A vote of the team captains in each sport earned him the honor. The nordic combined skier is competing in his sixth Winter Olympics, the first American to do so.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Cool Runnings II

The Jamaican bobsled team is back in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 12 years, but it was hardly smooth sledding to get to Sochi. The squad had to use crowdfunding to pay for the trip, and the airlines lost their equipment on the flight over. Good news for the latest version of "Cool Runnings," though: The gear turned up in time for the event.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Cold? Who, Me?

What would a Bermudan Olympic team be without Bermuda shorts? This fashion statement was bad news, however, for cross-country skier Tucker Murphy: It meant he had no cold-weather gear to cover his legs as he led his delegation into the stadium.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Lighting the Torch

Russia turned to a couple of its Olympic legends to light the torch and officially open the games. Irina Rodnina won three consecutive pairs of figure-skating gold medals between 1972 and 1980, skating with a different partner each time. Vladislav Tretiak was the goalie on three gold-medal hockey teams for the Soviet Union, though his squad finished second to the United States in 1980 at Lake Placid, New York.

Photo by Matt Slocum - Pool/Getty Images

Firework Festival

A massive display of fireworks capped the torch-lighting ceremony after Vladimir Putin officially declared the Olympic Games open. A reported 22 tons of fireworks erupted during the opening ceremonies, which lasted nearly three hours.


She Shoots, She Scores

The United States began its quest for gold in women's ice hockey with a 3-1 victory over Finland. Kelli Stack's goal against Finnish goalie Noora Raty gave the team a 2-0 lead in a strong performance.

Photo by Matt Slocum - Pool/Getty Images

Skiing to the Podium

Norway opened big in the medal standings at Sochi. The country's team took first and third in the cross-country women's skiathlon, with Marit Bjoergen winning gold and Heidi Wang bronze. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden crashed the podium in second place.

Photo by Vianney Thibaut/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Sister Act

Feb. 8 was a great day for the Dufour-Lapointe family of Canada in the women's moguls. Justine Dufour-Lapointe captured the gold medal and her sister, Chloe, took the silver. The pre-event favorite, defending Olympic champion Hannah Kearney of the United States, took the bronze.

Related: The 25 Greatest Winter Olympians

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

A Joyous Finish

Gold medalist Matthias Mayer couldn't contain his joy on the podium after winning a surprise gold medal in the downhill. The Austrian had never finished higher than fifth place in a World Cup event before emerging on top in Sochi. Italy's Christof Innerhofer took the silver and Norway's Kjetil Jansrud captured the bronze.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Unfriendly Land

German ski jumper Severin Freund saw his medal hopes end with a crash landing in the men's normal hill competition. Poland's Kamil Stoch took gold in the event, with Slovenia's Peter Prevc winning silver and Norway's Anders Bardal getting bronze.

Related: How to Recover Like an Olympian

Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Team Spirit

Four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko did his part to ensure that host country Russia would take the first-ever team figure skating gold medal by winning the men's portion of the event. Russia dominated to earn the title and its first gold medal in Sochi. Canada won silver and the United States took bronze.

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

What Do YOU Think?

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics? Why or why not? What is your favorite event? What has been your favorite moment of the Games so far?

Related: The 25 Greatest Winter Olympians

Todd Warnock/Digital Vision/Getty Images