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Spain team in Sochi for start of 2014 Winter Olympics

20 athletes will compete in seven events as nation seeks first medal in 22 years

Members of the Spain team pose for a picture with some mascots during a welcoming ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Ampliar foto
Members of the Spain team pose for a picture with some mascots during a welcoming ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympics. AP

The Spanish flag was raised in the Olympic Village in Sochi on Thursday ahead of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Games, which run from February 7 to 23.

The flag-raising was attended by the athlete who will bear it on Friday, figure skater Javier Fernández, and his teammates Sara Hurtado, Adrià Díaz and Javier Raya, the chief of mission Cayetano Cornet, team leader Gloria Stefanell, Carlos Gascón of the government's CSD sports council and two of Spain's three IOC members, Marisol Casado and Patxi Perurena.

In total Spain has 20 team members in Spain competing in Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, figure skating, skeleton, and snowboarding.

Hurtado and partner Díaz have won two silver medals in international competition this season and placed 10th in the European Championship. Both are making their Olympic debuts.

Fernández, a double European champion and a World Championship bronze medalist in 2013, is Spain's best chance of getting onto the podium, something it failed to do at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. It has been over 20 years since a Spaniard won a medal at the Winter Olympics, when Blanca Fernández Ochoa claimed bronze in the slalom in Albertville. Francisco Fernández Ochoa, her brother, won the only gold medal in the country's history in 1972.

Carolina Ruiz, the team's best chance of a repeat on the slopes, placed seventh in Thursday's downhill practice round.