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Competition begins at Sochi ahead of opening ceremony

Competition is already officially underway at the Winter Olympics in Sochi — a day before Friday’s opening ceremony — and a number of Canadian hopefuls are in action.

The early starts are needed given that 12 new events have been added to the Winter Games since Vancouver 2010, including snowboard slopestyle.

Qualifying for the snowboard slopestyle event began overnight Eastern Time, and Canada’s Maxence Parrot came in first in his heat while fellow Canadian Sebastian Toutant came in third. Both have advanced to Saturday’s final.

“I’m doing this for all of Canada and thank you for the support. It’s really appreciated,” Parrot told KiSS 92.5 in Toronto.



It was a rough start for fellow Canadian and medal favourite Mark McMorris who competed with a rib injury. He fell on his first run, but has moved on to the semifinals on Saturday, along with Canadian Charles Reid.

The women also held qualifying runs in slopestyle on Thursday morning. Canadian snowboarder Spencer O’Brien finished third in her heat and advanced to the finals on Saturday. Kitchener’s Jenna Blasman, who competed with a broken arm, will be heading to the semifinals.

The opening rounds of team figure skating and qualifying in women’s freestyle moguls were also held on Thursday.

Ottawa’s Patrick Chan finished third in the men’s short program, while Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, from Ontario, were scheduled to skate the short program later in pairs competition.

The three Dufour-Lapointe sisters — Chloe, Justine and Maxime — have scored a spot in the women’s freestyle moguls finals, and so has Audrey Robichaud.

Meanwhile, Scott Moir said he believes he and ice dance partner Tessa Virtue can top their gold-medal performance from the Vancouver Games, but said that’s not their only goal in Sochi.

“It’s about having our moment on the ice, and this program is about our relationship and its about our career. It’s a lot more personal than just going out and winning an Olympic gold medal,” Moir told reporters.

In terms of just how well Canadian athletes will perform at Sochi, Own the Podium’s John Furlong told Sportsnet 590 the Fan “It’s probably going to be the most difficult environment to compete in.”

“If you can hit the numbers of medals we won in Vancouver, and to get beyond that, which is what we hope to do — we have the talent.”

Canada won 26 medals at Vancouver 2010, with 14 of them gold.

Meantime, the U.S. Homeland Security Department is warning airlines that terrorists could target planes headed for Russia. Although there is no specific threat, the department said terrorists could try to smuggle explosives onto planes in toothpaste tubes.

With files from Jaime Pulfer and Irene Preklet, 680News