The first week of the 2014 Winter Olympics came to a close Feb. 17, and Sweden had so far enjoyed a decent time in Sochi, Russia.
Sweden grabbed nine medals—two gold, five silver, two bronze—all in cross-country events. Charlotte Kalla led Sweden to the gold in the 4 x 5 kilometer sprint relay while Marcus Hellner led the men to gold in the 4 x 10 kilometer relay. Kalla claimed silver medals in the 7.5 kilometer and 10 kilometer classic races. Hellner grabbed silver medals in the Skiathlon 15 kilometer classic. John Olsson won the silver in the 15 kilometer classic, with Daniel Richardsson taking the bronze. Teodor Petersson won the silver in the Sprint Free with Emil Jonsson took the bronze.
Week two of the Winter Games features four more cross-country events and the biathlon, sports in which Swedes (and Norwegians) excel. Sweden is also in contention for medals in three out of four team sports as both curling teams and the men’s hockey teams all progressed to the playoffs.
Here are some of the more compelling stories to come out of the first week in Sochi.

Kalla and her gold
When Charlotte Kalla started her anchor leg of the women's cross-country relay, the two leaders were 25 seconds ahead and four-time Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen was chasing close behind.
In other words, she was skiing for bronze. But for Kalla, bronze wasn't good enough.
The Swede erased a massive deficit on the final leg and then won a three-way sprint Saturday to give her country its first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics.
"I just wanted to go for gold," Kalla said. "I knew that if I fight really hard it was possible to cross the finish line first."
It was Sweden's first victory in the women's 4x5 kilometer relay since 1960, and it came on a day when heavy favorite Norway only finished fifth.
Kalla was 25.7 seconds behind Finland's Krista Lahteenmaki and Germany's Denise Herrmann after the final exchange but gradually erased the deficit and caught up to the two leaders going into the stadium.
On the final straight, the Swede overtook both and beat Lahteenmaki by 0.5 seconds. Herrmann and Germany settled for bronze.
"Charlotte was skiing like a god," said Anna Haag, who skied the third leg for Sweden. "I love these girls."
Kalla became the first athlete to win three medals in Sochi, after taking silver in both the skiathlon and the 10K classical race. Kalla took gold in the 10K freestyle race in Vancouver, but this was her most impressive Olympic performance yet.
Sweden seemed to have lost its chance at a gold medal after Haag couldn't keep up with Finland's Kerttu Niskanen and Germany's Claudia Nystad on the third leg. But Ida Ingemarsdotter, who skied Sweden's first leg, knew that with Kalla as the anchor, there was still a chance.
"I know when her eyes go dark, she will go fast," Ingemarsdotter said.
And with Sweden's king and queen looking on, Kalla immediately began a relentless pursuit that saw her cut the deficit to 13.2 seconds with 2.5K left. She kept closing the gap on the last lap until she joined the leading duo shortly before going into the stadium. She was still third at the last curve before the final straight, but used an inside track to go in front and opened up a gap that she kept all the way to the finish line.
After collapsing into the snow, she was immediately mobbed by her teammates in the finish area—but needed a few seconds of rest before she could celebrate.
"We all fell over her," Haag said. "She was like, 'Go away, I can't breathe.'"


Nice guys finish third
There was only one way for Emil Jönsson to sum up his bronze-medal performance in the cross country sprint event at the Sochi Olympics.
"Steven Bradbury,” the Swedish cross-country skier said. "I feel like him today."
Jönsson's bronze in the men's freestyle sprint on Tuesday certainly brought back memories of Bradbury's classic gold medal in short track speedskating at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, when all of the Australian's rivals fell in front of him shortly before the finish.
An exhausted and aching Jönsson had already given up on fighting for a medal, skiing dead last in the final and just cruising toward the finish, when three other skiers crashed in a heap in the soft snow on a tricky downhill section. Suddenly Jönsson found himself in third place, and also found enough energy to stay there until the finish line.
"I was super tired when I was standing at the start line," he said. "I felt right away after the first hill that, no, I have given everything today in the quarterfinal and semifinal. I had no power left in my legs."
The others quickly pulled away, with Jönsson just trying to get around the track for a sixth-place finish. And then he saw what had happened in front of him.
Anders Glöersen of Norway crashed into the protective barrier in a downhill curve and ended up taking down Sweden's Marcus Hellner and Sergey Ustiugov of Russia as well.
"I thought I could avoid him (Glöersen) but suddenly I went down," Hellner said. "And then one more guy came."
When Jönsson reached the top of the hill, there were bodies sprawled on the ground in front of him.
"Looking down the hill, I saw a few guys lying on the side," Jönsson said.
And that was enough for him to speed up again. He passed all three, and suddenly he was racing for a medal. Only Glöersen managed to give chase, but Jönsson somehow found the extra reserves of energy he needed to get to the finish.
"I could hear a guy was in the back of me, and I heard one of the Swedish coaches was screaming that I was going for the medal," he said. "And I was just giving everything I had."
Ahead of him, Ola Vigen Hattestad of Norway held off Sweden's Teodor Petersson in a two-way race for the gold medal. Jönsson crossed the line nearly 20 seconds behind the winner—an eternity in a sprint race—then collapsed in the snow and needed help from a Swedish team official to get up and walk out of the finish area.
"My back, my body, everything just collapsed," he said. "I have memory gaps from the race. I don't remember the last hill."
Getting a medal, though, is something he won't forget.
"It was really winning a lottery," he said. "It was totally unreal."

Panting over curling
The Olympic curling tournament is proof that clothes really do make the man—or woman. At least, it’s proof as far as the Scandinavian teams are concerned.
The pants the Danish, Norwegian and Swedes are wearing at the Sochi Games have generated more publicity for the sport than almost anything else at the 2014 Winter Games, except perhaps for Canadian skip Jessica Jones, who has become the sports sex symbol.
Norway has made the most fashion noise as its men’s teams unveiled nine different uniforms, all designed by Sonoma County, California clothing supplier, Loudmouth Golf, founded by Scott “Woody” Woodworth, a graphic artist who has injected fun into golf attire.
The Norwegians sent a sartorial message at their first practice when they arrived wearing floral print knickers not even all grandmas would wear, Norwegian soccer team socks, and “sixpence” flat caps. It was a throwback, they said, to the start of the sport in Scotland 400 years ago.
Even by Norwegian curling standards, it was a bold statement. And they were just getting started.
In their first-round game against the United States, the Norwegians’ trousers looked like they had just come off the walls of a modern art museum with giant squares in primary colors, reminiscent of an abstract Mondrian painting. The Americans, by contrast, wore black slacks and navy team shirts with white sleeves.
Final score: Pants 7, USA 4.
“It’s absolutely good for the sport,” U.S. skipper John Shuster said of Norway’s unique garb. “Anytime people are going to talk about curling in USA Today or the New York Times due to wardrobe, it helps bring curling to the forefront, and that’s good. Honestly, when you’re out there, you do not notice them. Not at all.”
Would he ever consider wearing similar pants to raise his team’s profile?
“No,” Shuster said, smiling.
Haavard Vad Petersson, one of Norway’s curlers, admitted he was skeptical when teammate Christoffer Svae introduced the idea four years ago, but he is happy to bring recognition to the sport. “For a small sport like curling, all the attention we can get is probably a good thing,” he said. “They’re really comfortable, that’s the great thing. Probably the most comfortable pants I ever wore. We have about 80 pairs, so a very colorful closet.”
Does he ever wear them out of the street, away from the rink?
“Very seldom,” Petersson said. “Maybe for bad-taste parties, or something like this.”
Unfortunately for Norway, the pants didn’t quite make the men as the Norwegians crashed out of the tournament in the preliminary round.
The Danes, meanwhile, arrived wearing black pants and red shirts. Sounds snappy, doesn’t it. Danish supplier Nike, however, decided to jazz up the Danes' pants, adding white stitching along the seams and around the pockets that made the pants look more like designer jeans than athletic apparel. The size also seemed a problem as Danish curling constantly tugged at their pants to get them to stretch more as they either curled stones or swept the rink.
The nightclub look mirrored some of the Danes’ language, which in at least one case was more appropriate for a Copenhagen speakeasy than it was for the staid curling house. In the Danish women’s final game—against the United States—curler Lene Neilsen dropped an f-bomb after failing to knock a U.S. stone off a scoring ring. Scandinavian athletes, well aware of the presence of Scandinavian media, often use English swear words so they don’t offend their home audience. Apparently, Nielsen forgot NBC was broadcasting the match—in English—to North America.
The potty-mouthed Danes also failed to advance from the preliminaries.
Then there is Sweden. The Swedish team arrived clad in an almost military-like uniform, with royal blue pants with a gold stripe on the out seam and yellow shirts trimmed in blue with an embroidered Tre Kronor over the left breast.
Very much like an army, the Swedes have conquered just about every opponent they have faced. The men finished 7-1 in the preliminaries, tied with China for the No. 1 seed in the semifinals. The women finished 6-2, second behind Canada (and its hot skip) and are the No. 2 seed in the semifinals.
Combined, the three teams are working to make curling … fashionable.