Winter Olympics: USA finally claim gold through Jacobellis redemption as Slovakia make history

By Sports Desk February 09, 2022 812

Lindsey Jacobellis ended a 16-year wait for Winter Olympics gold as the United States claimed their first top spot on the podium at Beijing 2022.

Jacobellis faltered at the penultimate jump at Turin 2006, but made amends in convincing fashion as she managed gold at the Genting Snow Park in the snowboard cross on Wednesday.

That was the USA's first gold of the 2022 Games as the 36-year-old collected the only title missing from her illustrious trophy cabinet, finishing ahead of France's Chloe Trespeuch who took silver.

Meanwhile, Petra Vlhova laid down an early marker in the women's slalom and, despite a host of world-class skiers coming down after her, claimed Slovakia's first ever Alpine skiing gold.

Vlhova was eighth after the morning session, but produced the run of the day in the afternoon after inspiration from coach Mauro Pini, who revealed the words of encouragement he gave the 26-year-old.

"We were just asking Petra between the two runs to really be courageous," Pini said. "Big heart on the slope, second run. Nothing to lose, just to be in the room tonight and don't regret nothing."

"After the first run I was a bit down, angry and sad," Vlhova added. "I started to not believe in myself. But I'm lucky because I have [the] best team ever and [the] best coach."

Ruud matches Gu feat with big air triumph

Birk Ruud followed in Eileen Gu's footsteps by becoming just the second freestyle skier to win gold at both the Youth Olympic Winter Games and Olympic Winter Games with victory in the men's freeski big air.

The Norwegian, aged 21 years and 313 days, is the youngest to earn an Olympic medal in freestyle skiing for his country, and he did it in some style as well.

The 21-year-old, who skipped last month's X Games to play it safe amid coronavirus, secured top spot before his final run, which he completed draped in a Norwegian flag at Big Air Shougang.

The big air champion credited the victory to his father Oivind, who died of cancer of April 2021.

"I'm just thankful to be in this position and I'm thankful for all the time I had with my dad," Ruud said after his win. "I still have my family, and I have a lot of people that support me, and I'm very thankful for that."

Arlt and Wendl make luge history

Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl created luge history as they became the first ever athletes to win the luge doubles three times – earning their fifth Olympic gold.

That equals the Olympic best in the sport set by their countrywoman Natalie Geisenberger, while no other men have ever claimed more first-place finishes than the pair when representing modern-day Germany at the Games.

Wendl and Arlt also joined speed skaters Lidia Skoblikova and Eric Heiden as the only athletes to claim at least five gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games without ever winning silver or bronze.

The German duo also extended their record as the oldest gold medallists in the event (both 34), as Germany continued their dominance in luge events at Beijing 2022.

Shiffrin slips away from record-medal haul chance

Vlhova may have secured her piece of history with Slovakia's maiden Alpine skiing title, but American pre-Games favourite Mikaela Shiffrin had a day to forget.

Shiffrin, a double Olympic and six-time world champion, fouled on the fifth gate just two days after her surprise early exit from the giant slalom.

The 26-year-old has another chance in Friday's super-G event, but admitted she is starting to doubt herself after consecutive failures.

"It's not the end of the world and it's so stupid to care this much, but I feel I have to question a lot now," Shiffrin said. 

"I will try to reset again. Maybe try to reset better this time but I also don't know how to do better because I just don't. I have never been in this position before and I don't know how to handle it." 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 09 February 2022 13:25
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