Matthias Mayer wins skiing's blue riband for Austria on Sochi's super Sunday

Story highlights

  • Austria's Matthias Mayer wins men's downhill
  • Pre-race favorite Bode Miller can only manage eighth place
  • Russia wins first gold in the team figure skating competition
  • Jamie Anderson gives United States double in slopestyle

Austria's Matthias Mayer scored an upset victory in the blue riband men's downhill while hosts Russia claimed its first gold of the Winter Games in Sochi Sunday in a packed program of competition.

The 23-year-old Mayer recovered from a slow start on the treacherous piste at Rosa Khutor to claim gold with a time of two minutes 06.23 seconds.

Italian Christof Innerhofer took silver, just six-hundredths of a second behind, with Norway's Kjetil Jansrud in the bronze medal position.

BLOG: Sunday's action live

Pre-race favorites Bode Miller of the United States and world downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, finished eighth and fourth respectively.

The 36-year-old Miller, in his final Olympics, had been quickest in two training runs, but mistakes on the middle section of the course, cost him dear.

"I wanted to ski it as hard as I could and not really back off, but it requires a lot of tactics today which I didn't apply," he said.

Sochi: A battleground for gay rights
Sochi: A battleground for gay rights

    JUST WATCHED

    Sochi: A battleground for gay rights

MUST WATCH

Sochi: A battleground for gay rights 04:01
PLAY VIDEO

"I feel disappointed. I skied hard and well, and that's the most important thing. It just didn't go all right."

U.S. claims its first Olympic gold medal
U.S. claims its first Olympic gold medal

    JUST WATCHED

    U.S. claims its first Olympic gold medal

MUST WATCH

U.S. claims its first Olympic gold medal 01:05
PLAY VIDEO
Games open with dazzle and a glitch
Games open with dazzle and a glitch

    JUST WATCHED

    Games open with dazzle and a glitch

MUST WATCH

Games open with dazzle and a glitch 02:19
PLAY VIDEO
Ceremony chief defends superimposed ring
Ceremony chief defends superimposed ring

    JUST WATCHED

    Ceremony chief defends superimposed ring

MUST WATCH

Ceremony chief defends superimposed ring 01:06
PLAY VIDEO
Flash brief: Sochi Olympics
Flash brief: Sochi Olympics

    JUST WATCHED

    Flash brief: Sochi Olympics

MUST WATCH

Flash brief: Sochi Olympics 02:28
PLAY VIDEO
Hijack attempt rattles Sochi
Hijack attempt rattles Sochi

    JUST WATCHED

    Hijack attempt rattles Sochi

MUST WATCH

Hijack attempt rattles Sochi 03:00
PLAY VIDEO

By contrast, Mayer, who chose the perfect moment to win his first major downhill competition, was in dreamland.

"This is unbelievable. I thought maybe in a few years I could dream of this sort of achievement. It was really cool and my family will be excited," was his assessment.

Mayer's father Helmut won a silver medal in the super-G discipline at Calgary in 1988 and his son had a pre-race premonition he could go one better.

"I woke up this morning and I knew that I could win this race. I was smiling the whole day, all throughout the inspection. It was my day today," he added.

Read: U.S. wins first gold of Sochi Games

The alpine skiing hotbed of Austria has not produced an Olympic downhill champion since Fritz Stroebl in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and Mayer is following in the footsteps of legends such as Franz Klammer, the 1976 gold medalist in Innsbruck.

Innerhofer looked like spoiling the Austrian party as he bettered Mayer's time in the upper sections, but he narrowly missed out in one of the tightest finishes in Olympic downhill history.

"It has been a big dream for me to win a medal at the Olympic Games, so I can't really believe it," admitted a stunned Innerhofer. "I couldn't be happier."

Svindal, so dominant on the World Cup circuit, was distraught to finish outside of a podium places by just 0.19 seconds. "It is pretty much the worst place to be. I've been there before and probably will be again," the 31-year-old said.

Svindal took silver in the downhill in Vancouver 2010 behind Switzerland's Didier Defago, who was only 14th in his title defense in Sochi.

Read: Trapped bobsledder punches hole in door!

The classic downhill opened proceedings on the second day of finals, while Russia's figure skaters rounded off the day by clinching the team competition -- watched by President Vladimir Putin.

Veteran Yevgeny Plushenko and 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia won their respective free skate competitions at the Iceberg Skating Palace to give Russia an unassailable lead ahead of the ice dance free dance later in the evening.

"I'm 31 years and this means everything to me. It's so much history," said Plushenko, who was the 2006 Olympic champion and has won two silver medals in a glittering career.

The new sport of slopestyle snowboarding has proved a big hit with spectators and television viewers and earlier Jamie Anderson completed a double for the United States.

Her teammate Sage Kutsenburg won the men's event Saturday and she followed it up with a superb display in the women's final.

Her massive score of 95.25 proved a class apart with Finland's Enni Rukajarvi in second place on 92.50 with Britain's Jenny Jones taking the bronze.

Read: Sochi Games open with spectacular ceremony

The third gold medal of the day went to Dario Cologna, who won the Skiathlon 15km classic/15km freestyle event in Nordic Skiing.

Cologna suffered an ankle injury at the start of the season and did not race until last month, but it did not prevent the Swiss, who won gold in the 2010 Winter Games, doubling up.

"It's great -- a dream come true. The second gold after Vancouver. It's very special," he said.

The first medal for Russia came as Olga Graf took bronze in the women's 3,000m speed skating.

Ireen Wust maintained the early Dutch dominance in speed skating at Sochi by taking gold from silver medalist Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic.

In the 7.5km sprint biathlon, defending champion Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia took gold ahead of Russian hope Olga Vilukhina.

Read: Hotel horrors at $30B Games

Russian-born Kuzmina claimed gold in the sprint and silver in the 10km pursuit at Vancouver in 2010.

Germany's Felix Loch dominated the men's luge from start to finish to take gold with a combined time of three minutes 27.526 seconds over the four runs.

Russian Albert Demchenko was left frustrated in his bid to become the oldest-ever Olympic champion at the age of 42, but took a fine silver.

Double Olympic champion Armin Zoeggler of Italy took bronze in a high-quality competition.

Poland's Kamil Stoch took the ski jumping title on the normal hill Sunday with jumps of 105.5m and 103.5m for a total of 278 points.

Slovenia's Peter Prevc was second, nearly 13 points adrift with Norway's Anders Bardal taking the final podium spot.

Switzerland's Simon Ammann, 32, double Olympic champion in 2006 and 2010, finished back in 17th.

        Aiming for Gold

      • intv davies sochi iconic olympic images_00022301.jpg

        Sochi 2014: The verdict

        With the Olympic cauldron now extinguished, CNN takes a look at whether Russia's $50 billion Sochi budget was money well spent.
      • Canada's Sidney Crosby scores past Sweden's goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist during the ice hockey final at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014.

        Sochi's top-10 sporting moments

        The athletes on show in Sochi provided moments of drama and destiny that captured the imagination and settled in the collective memory.
      • Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen competes in the Men's Biathlon 15 km Mass Start at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014, in Rosa Khutor, near Sochi. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

        Here's Sochi's real winner

        Russia may have topped the medals table at the first Winter Olympics it staged, but which country was most successful per capita?
      • SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Katie Uhlaender of the United States shows a bald eagle design on her helmet as she prepares to make a run during a Women's Skeleton training session on Day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Sanki Sliding Center on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

        Sochi: The coolest gear on show

        From eye-popping helmet designs to F1-influenced bobsleigh, the Sochi offered a bewildering array of technological innovation.
      • Fireworks explode over the Olympic park at the end of the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23.

        Sochi's artistic ending

        Sochi's closing ceremony took an artistic look at Russian culture before the Olympic flag was handed over to South Korea for the 2018 Games.
      • The world's most expensive road?

        Critics say it would have been cheaper to coat this Russian road with caviar but will the route made for Sochi reap long-term rewards?
      • Tomas Portyk of the Czech Republic jumps during the Nordic Combined Individual Large Hill official training on day 10 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

        360-view of Sochi ski jump

        Navigate your way around this spectacular 360-degree picture from Sochi's ski-jumping venue at the Winter Olympics -- and find out how it was created.
      • 'Come vacation in Sochi ... please!'

        Sochi's transformation has left even the local cab drivers a bit lost and confused -- but don't let that put you off visiting this rejuvenated Black Sea resort.
      • March of Sochi's sun athletes

        For a Winter Olympics, there are some very colorful characters from some very tropical climates taking part -- including this "Mariachi" skier.
      • Gold medalist Jamie Anderson of the United States and bronze medalist Jenny Jones of Great Britain celebrate during the flower ceremony for the Women's Snowboard Slopestyle Finals during day two of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

        The Olympics is their playground

        If snowboarders were an introduction to a younger, hipper, "slacker" generation of Olympians, the next wave has taken it to another level.
      • A prop from the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

        Sochi: Russia's paradise lost?

        It has been dubbed Russia's Las Vegas. But has Sochi's massive renovation come at a cost to the region's stunning natural environment?