SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Talk about a generation gap.
The 60-year-old head of the IOC caught up Saturday night with the Olympic snowboard medalists — including one with his long hair standing straight up in gravity-defying fashion. "Cool guys," IOC President Thomas Bach said after meeting the trio at the slopestyle medal presentation, where they celebrated in effusive fashion.
"They are waiting now for the party to begin after they have the medal. Of course, when you win a medal, you always enjoy," he said. "That's the modern generation, that's fine." Sage Kotsenburg , a 20-year-old American, won the first gold of the games in slopestyle's Olympic debut. Staale Sandbech of Norway — with the wild hairdo — took the silver and Mark McMorris of Canada got bronze.
Slopestyle features huge jumps, flips and tricks. It's the type of sport the IOC hopes can attract younger fans and viewers. "It looks very spectacular," said Bach, who had hoped to watch the event live but didn't get there in time after going to the women's 15-kilometer cross-country skiathlon.
On the other end of the generation spectrum, Bach was bowled over by 40-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen's victory in the men's 10K cross-country race. When an Associated Press reporter informed Bach of the result, he did a doubletake.
"Yeah? Yeah?" he said. " Ooh la la. Chapeau (well done)." Bjoerndalen became the oldest Winter Olympic individual gold medalist and tied fellow Norwegian Bjorne Daelhie's record for most overall medals in the Winter Games with 12.
Bjoerndalen was a surprise winner Saturday. He hadn't won an individual competition on the World Cup circuit for almost two years. "This comeback, everybody thought it would be over for him," Bach said. To do that, "that's really quite something."
— Stephen Wilson — Twitter http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu