With four medals so far, the Sochi cohort of seven out female competitors is doing quite well in the medal race.
Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, 27, has joined the global power group of Olympic multi-medalists. Counting her past gold in the women's 3000m at the Winter Games in Turin, she now has four medals overall. At Sochi, she swept gold in the women's 3000 meter, and two silvers in the 1000 and 1500s meter races. Tall imposing Wüst is also a crowd-pleaser -- she has the ability to pour it on in the closing lap, and come from behind -- this in a chronologically unforgiving sport, where defeat comes with a thousandth of a second.
Wust has irritated some gay activists by pre-Games refusals to talk much about her sexual orientation to the press. The skater stayed firm about focusing on her athletic performance, saying that the Russian anti-gay law is for the politicians to deal with. "I'm there to skate very fast," she said bluntly. She did just that.
In her own country, where speed skating enjoys the same intense popularity as football in the U.S., 30-year-old Wüst is a sport hero. She has been showered with awards. In 2006 she was voted Dutch Sportswoman of the year, and three times recognized as best long-distance skater. Among her firsts, she was the first Dutch woman athlete to be Olympic, world and European champions all at the same time. An ice rink is named after her in Tilburg.
The fourth out Sochi medal is the silver captured by Austrian ski-jumper Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, 30, in Sochi's historic debut of women's ski-jumping. Daniela came to Sochi as 2011 world champion in Oslo. Known as Pinky to her teammates, Daniela is hardcore - she also plays football at national levels, as well as volleyball. She married her lesbian partner in 2011.
Women make history in ski jumping
Thursday's medals ceremony for the first-in-history women's ski jump marks the end of a 90-year battle by women to break into this sport at Olympic levels. I
Like Ireen Wüst, Daniela had little to say to the press about her sexuality before her event. Afterwards, with medal in hand, she responded to the media negativity on her positioning. This was her comment: "I hope for the future that the people now can see the sport as a chance to change something. That would be nice. Because everyone looks at Russia and its laws, and I think it's a good idea to change something."
Aussie snowboarder Brockhoff finished eighth overall in the snowboard cross finals. Netherlands speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof and her 3000m relay team were penalized in the semifinal and did not compete in the final.
Also a veteran Olympian (Vancouver), van Kerkhof is Ireen Wüst's former girlfriend and a 3000m relay specialist. She was part of the 3000m relay team that won gold at the 2011 European Championships. This was the first European gold won by a Dutch women's relay team since the event was introduced in 1997.
The remaining three out women have finished their Sochi competitions. Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas
went 12th in the semifinals women's snowboard slopestyle and didn't move to finals. Canadian speedskater Bucsis placed 27th and 28th in the women's 500m. Slovenian crosscountry skier Jezersek finished 11th in the women's relay 4x5 km.
Patricia Nell Warren is author of the award-winning and groundbreaking The Front Runner, along with some other fantastic novels and non-fiction books. She will be contributing to Outsports throughout the Olympics. You can read more about Patricia Nell Warren at Wildcat International. Copyright 2014 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.
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