One of those extras has already been employed, as earlier this week Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin became the first downhill skiers in history to tie for Olympic gold.
Sochi organizers contracted with Russian jewelry company Adamas to produce the medals in March of last year, including the 46 extras. While all of the medals are smelted, cast, cut, drilled and polished in Moscow ahead of time, the 46 provisionals are left un-etched, as the Wall Street Journal reported. Adamas has a remote facility set up in Sochi where the company can etch the final competition specifics onto the medal in the event of a tie.
And while the difference between gold and silver may be huge for an athlete who has trained day and night in the lead up to competition, in terms of monetary value and mineral composition, a gold medal is not all that different from the silver.
The gold medals at Sochi contain about 6 grams of gold, layered on top of 525 grams of silver. Each one is worth roughly $550. Silver medals are just gold medals without the gold, worth about $310. The bronze is a big step down in value, however -- containing just $3.25 worth of copper, tin and zinc.
The last time an Olympian received a gold medal made entirely of gold was the 1912 Summer Olympics held in Stockholm, Sweden.
[Wall Street Journal]