Winter Olympics

Winter Olympics (117)

Mikaela Shiffrin was disqualified from the giant slalom on Monday as her Winter Olympics began in disappointing fashion.

The defending champion missed a gate and fell on her hip only five turns into her first run at the challenging course known as the Ice River.

It was a rare error from the United States star, who has three Winter Olympic medals including two golds. She is bidding to become the first American to win three golds at the Games in alpine skiing.

Shiffrin has only failed to finish 14 times in 229 starts across all disciplines at World Cup, Olympic and world championship events and was top of the overall World Cup standings coming into Beijing.

"I won't hide the disappointment, but I'm not going to dwell on it because that won't help me," she said.

"I felt that I was pushing really quite well and attacking. But there was just one turn, I had a small, small mistiming when I really went to push on my edges and that makes all the difference.

"I have been really working on the right timing of my turns and really never thought this was going to be part of the issue. But it wasn't because I was holding back, so I can be proud of that. But it's five turns into the Olympic GS, there's disappointment for sure."

In total, there were 19 DNFs among the 80 starters in round one alone, including last year's World Cup winner Marta Bassino.

Sweden's Sara Hector took gold at the end of the second run, ahead of Federica Brignone and Lara Gut-Behrami.

Shiffrin, who will compete for five more medals at these Games, will next be involved in the slalom on Wednesday.

Sunday was quite a day for the Australia curling team, from being told to leave China in the morning to recording their first victories at the Winter Olympics.

Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt became the first Australians to win a curling match at the Olympics when they beat Switzerland, but that is only part of the story.

Having lost their first seven matches in the mixed team event at Beijing 2022, Gill and Hewitt were told they had to leave China on Sunday morning after the former returned a positive COVID-19 test.

However, with bags packed and ready to head to the airport, the duo were invited back after the Chinese Public Health System determined the CT values in Gill's PCR tests fell into an acceptable range, which left them with 15 minutes to get a taxi to the National Aquatics Centre for their match with Switzerland.

Remarkably, with Gill only playing with one glove having lost the other in the rush, Australia went on to beat the Swiss 9-6, before also getting the better of Canada 10-8 in their final clash.

"It has literally been the craziest, craziest 24 hours. My bags are still packed, I only just had time to pull out my uniforms," Gill said. "I was ruffling through my bags and ripping clothes out left, right and centre. I played with only one glove on - and it was the wrong one.

"It was really devastating [to be asked to leave China] given that I wasn't infectious, but after review I'm so incredibly grateful to the medical team to get me out on the ice and I'm able to compete and finish off our campaign on a really positive note.

"We put our hearts and souls into that [Switzerland] game, to be able to come back with the win was really awesome."

Prior to Sunday's remarkable events, Australia had lost to the United States, China, Czech Republic, Sweden, Great Britain, Norway and Italy, losing by a combined aggregate of 53-33.

Against Switzerland they were 6-3 down with three ends remaining, only to score three, two and one stones to nil to take the match 9-6.

An 8-8 tie saw their match against Canada go to an extra end, which they clinched two stones to nil.

They will still finish bottom of the standings despite their two victories, but Hewitt did not seem to mind as he appeared just as amazed by the circumstances, saying: "We had a couple of phone calls that maybe there could be a chance.

"I was like, 'Aw, don't do this to us, please'. Then we got the official call and we were like, 'Are you serious?' We had 15 minutes to get in the taxi.

"It's one of those things where you don't realise what you've got until it's gone. Once we heard that we could actually play again, it made it extra special for us.

"We were like, 'Let’s embrace the Olympics, embrace what we have and be grateful for it'. Because it's something that can be taken away from you in a moment's notice. We were just so stoked and we can't wait for the next game as well."

"It's incredible. You walk out there onto the ice and nearly everyone comes up to you and says, 'We’re so happy that you're out here'. It just shows the camaraderie between curlers here."

New Zealand celebrated their first ever Winter Olympics gold on Sunday, and Australia broke new ground by winning multiple medals on the same day.

On the medals table, however, Norway and Sweden occupied places one and two, the Scandinavian snow and ice sport specialists going through familiar motions.

Members of the New Zealand team performed a haka as 20-year-old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott was awarded gold for a virtuoso snowboard slopestyle triumph, a moment of sporting history for her country.

Sadowski-Synnott will go again later in the Beijing Games when she competes in the big air event, a famous double in her sights. New Zealand squeezed into the top 10 on the medals table thanks to their first medals success of any colour in China, tying for ninth place with the hosts so far.

Australia share sixth with Japan and Slovenia, each nation having a gold and a bronze so far. Japan savoured their first ski jumping Olympic title since 1998 as Ryoyu Kobayashi soared to gold in the men's normal hill competition on Sunday.

The Australians clasped their hands on two medals in a day for the first time in Winter Games history, with Tess Coady taking bronze behind Sadowski-Synnott while Jakara Anthony swooped for a mesmerising gold in the freestyle skiing women's moguls.

Still, the top five on the medals table had a familiar look to it, with Germany and Netherlands tied in fourth with one gold and one silver each. Johannes Ludwig delivered Germany's first gold in Beijing when the 35-year-old triumphed in the luge men's singles. Patrick Roest took silver for Netherlands in the 5,000 metres speed skating, his country's only medal on Sunday.

 

Russian Olympic Committee have captured the most medals so far, but only one of their five has been gold, so they sit third on the table. Alexander Bolshunov led an ROC 1-2 in the cross-country skiathlon on Sunday, as Denis Spitsov took silver.

Sweden are dealing only in gold at the moment, with Nils van der Poel's 5,000m speed skating glory run on Sunday following a podium top spot on Saturday for Walter Wallberg in the men's moguls.

That means Norway, the most successful nation in Winter Olympics history, head the table in its nascent stage. After landing gold twice on Saturday, their encore was understated, with bronze in the speed skating for Hallgeir Engebraaten their only top-three placing.

Ryoyu Kobayashi ended a 50-year wait for Japan as he landed ski jumping gold at the Winter Olympics on Sunday.

Not since Yukio Kasaya in 1972 had Japan triumphed in the men's normal hill ski jumping event, but the 25-year-old Kobayashi fended off all-comers to top the podium.

It was Japan's first Olympic gold in any form of ski jumping since the country hosted the 1998 Games in Nagano.

Kobayashi scored 275.0 points for his two jumps, placing him ahead of two surprise medallists, Austria's Manuel Fettner and Poland's Dawid Kubacki.

Fettner came into the event having not featured on a World Cup podium in an individual event since January 2017, while Kubacki has been enduring a tough season. Both outshone World Cup leader Karl Geiger, with the German only able to finish 15th.

Kobayashi, who finished seventh four years ago in Pyeongchang, said: "I can't believe it at all. My two jumps were perfect, which I was very pleased with.

"I had only good feelings when I was performing. At the last Olympics I realised many things that I was missing, so this time I did what I had to do. This is why I got the victory."

It was a remarkable day for Australia too, landing two medals on the same day at the Winter Games for the first time, as Tess Coady took bronze in women's snowboard slopestyle and Jakara Anthony struck gold in the freestyle skiing moguls.

Anthony said of her golden moment: "It was really incredible. I really feel like it was my best run on the course, and I'm so proud that I was able to let myself ski like that.

"It's a real mental game to let yourself do what you are capable of, and I really feel I was able to achieve that, which is something really special and something I've been working really hard to be able to do. Gold medal was the plan, so I'd say it went according to plan."

Anthony's gold means Australia now have an all-time haul of nine Olympic medals in freestyle skiing, with five of those won by women.


Snowboard glory for New Zealand

For the first time, New Zealand have a gold medallist at the Winter Olympics. Step forward Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, champion in the slopestyle, who triumphantly navigated an obstacle-packed course described by American silver medallist Julia Marino as "the hardest ever".

Sadowski-Synnott was embraced by Marino and Coady, and said: "That was a pretty special moment and probably I'll never forget it. It was just so amazing and special.

"To win New Zealand's first Winter Olympic gold means so much to me and I can't believe that I managed to do it. I'm just super proud to be Kiwi and I hope I made everyone at home proud."


Bolshunov storms to skiathlon title

Russian Olympic Committee's Alexander Bolshunov insisted there was nothing suspicious about his huge margin of victory in the men's skiathlon cross-country race. 

The 25-year-old finished one minute and 11 seconds clear of compatriot Denis Spitsov, with Finland's Iivo Niskanen taking bronze.

"It is something unbelievable. I am an Olympic champion and this is for life," said a thrilled Bolshunov.

Russian sport has been tainted by doping, but Bolshunov insisted he is a clean athlete and reacted unhappily to being asked about his credibility after landing gold.

He said: "You don't just become an Olympic champion all of a sudden. Over the past years, I proved that in every race and always show distinguished results and also always battle to the end.

"As for doping, when I hear those words, it honestly turns me inside out. I do not accept that and when I hear those words, I don't even want to hear them.

"I hate hearing this because for me it is something that is incompatible with sport. We have clean sportsmen. We have clean athletes here at the Olympics."


Ludwig lives up to billing

It was too windy for downhill skiing on Sunday, with action on those slopes postponed to Monday, but there was no holding back the luge competitors, as Germany's Johannes Ludwig carried off the men's singles gold medal.

The 35-year-old pre-Games favourite's combined time of three minutes 48.735 seconds edged him ahead of Austrian silver medallist Wolfgang Kindl and Italian Dominik Fischnaller, who took bronze.

"I said to myself before the last two runs, 'Let's take it like a game, yeah? It's called the Olympic Games, let’s take it like a game,'" said Ludwig. "I hoped that I could make a little bit [of a] show for the people here, then it's a fun race to watch. This was important for me and I just said to myself, 'Let it go'. What happens, happens."

Another long wait ended, as world champion Nils van der Poel became Sweden's first speed skating Olympic gold medallist since 1988, winning the 5,000 metres.

Three-time defending champion Sven Kramer could only finish ninth for Netherlands, saying afterwards it would be his last appearance over the distance.

The medals started to be dished out on Saturday, and there are more up for grabs as the Winter Olympics moves into day three in Beijing.

There are 11 different disciplines to take in on Sunday, with one of winter sport's biggest names in action.

Two-time reigning Olympic champion Jamie Anderson leads the field in the women's slopestyle.

Here, Stats Perform provides a rundown of the medal events taking place on Sunday.

Alpine Skiing

The men's downhill event will be the first time a medal is up for grabs in the alpine ski programme in Beijing.

With the 2018 Olympic champion, Aksel Lund Svindal, having retired, and his compatriot Kjetil Jansrud missing through injury, then Matthias Mayer - who claimed gold in 2014 in Sochi - is among the favourites.

Cross-Country Skiing 

Norway claimed the first gold medal of this year's Games when Therese Johaug stormed to victory in the women's 7.5km x 7.5km skiathlon on Saturday, and her compatriot Johannes Hoesflot will hope to match that feat in the men's equivalent.

Hoesflot is a reigning world champion in three disciplines, and he won three golds in 2018, albeit he finished a disappointing 10th in the 30km skiathlon four years ago.

Norway dominated the podium in the event in 2018, but neither Simen Hegstad Krueger or Martin Johnsrud Sundby will be competing this time. Hans Christer Holund will be looking to improve on his bronze.

Freestyle Skiing

The women's moguls gold is up for grabs on Sunday, with reigning world and Olympic champion Perrine Laffont of France in line to defend her title.

Laffont will face stern opposition from Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who took silver in Pyeongchang, though Yuliya Galysheva – who took bronze in 2018 and finished second behind Laffont in the world championships last year – needs to go through a second qualification round.

Luge

The men's singles final takes place on Sunday, with reigning champion David Gleirscher, 2018 silver medallist Chris Mazdzer and bronze medalist Johannes Ludwig all pushing for gold.

Ludwig is the favourite, leading the 2021-22 Luge World Cup heading to Beijing, while 2010 and 2014 Olympic champion Felix Loch is also in the mix.

Ski Jumping

The men's normal hill individual field is wide open, given that 2018 Olympic champion Andreas Wellinger failed to qualify this time, while silver medalist Johann Andre Forfang is not competing.

Robert Johansson took bronze last time and will be among the favourites, which will include reigning world champion Piotr Zyla (Poland) and current World Cup leader Karl Geiger (Germany).

Snowboarding

Anderson, a seven-time Winter X Games slopestyle gold medallist and a two-time world champion, is out for her OIympic three-peat. No snowboarder has ever won three golds in a row at the Games, with Shaun White the only snowboarder to have won three golds at all.

She will face competition from Canada's Laurie Blouin, another two-time world champion, while Tess Coady of Australia and New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott must be considered as strong challengers.

Speed Skating

Sven Kramer holds the Olympic record, as well as the gold medal from Pyeongchang in the 5000 metres. He is aiming to defend his title and his record, going up against 2018 silver medalist Ted-Jan Bloemen and reigning world champion and world record holder Nils van der Poel.

The first gold medal of the Games went the way of Norway's Therese Johaug, who stormed to success in the women's skiathlon.

Johaug missed the 2018 Winter Olympics as she was serving an 18-month suspension for a positive drugs test.

The Norwegian blamed her positive result on tainted lip balm.

However, she has returned to compete in Beijing and clinched the first gold up for grabs with a supreme display in the 7.5km+7.5km skiathlon, which was held approximately 120km northwest of China's capital.

Johaug, 33, crossed the line in a time of 44 minutes, 13.7 seconds to win what is often regarded as one of the toughest cross-country events.

She finished ahead of Natalia Nepryaeva of the Russian Olympic Committee and third-placed Austrian Teresa Stadlober.

"It was huge for me today. When I missed the Olympics Games in Pyeongchang it means is eight years since I was in Sochi," said Johaug, who is a three-time world champion in this discipline.

"The last year there have been many days away from home and to be at altitude to train to be ready for Beijing. It is huge to me to cross the finish line and know I reached my goal."

There was another gold for Norway on Saturday, as they came out on top in the mixed relay 4x6km biathlon, with France taking silver and the Russian Olympic Committee bronze.

Norway's curling team beat China and Australia in the mixed doubles round-robin stage to cap a fine day for the Scandinavian nation.

Olympic record tumbles

The Netherlands' Irene Schouten broke the Olympic record as she took gold in the women's 3000m speed skating.

Claudia Pechstein, of Germany, had set the previous record back in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

"When you say 20 years ago, the record stands a really long time. I am happy I have it now," Schouten said.

"My last lap was really good. There is a gold medal at the finish and I have to give it all and it was a good last lap."

Schouten cannot celebrate for too long, however, as she has to switch focus to the 5000m race and the team pursuit.

Italy's Francesca Lollobrigida claimed silver, while Isabelle Weidemann's bronze brought up Canada's 200th medal at the Winter Olympics.

China get up and running

There is always extra pressure on the host nation to perform and China managed to secure their first gold, triumphing in the mixed team relay of the short track speed skating.

The Chinese team just managed to hold off a late charge from Italy, who almost pipped them on the line. Hungary took bronze.

Sweden's Walter Wallberg took gold in the men's moguls final, while Slovenia's Ursa Bogataj won in the women's ski jump.

USA and Canada run riot

There were emphatic victories for the United States and Canada in the women's ice hockey.

Canada got into double figures against Finland, winning 11-1, while the USA defeated the Russian Olympic Committee 5-0 in the other Group A game.

Japan overcame Denmark 6-2 and the Czech Republic got the better of Sweden 3-1.

Norway celebrated gold in biathlon and cross-country skiing on Saturday as the most successful nation in Winter Olympics history topped the medals table.

Hosts China also got in on the gold medal action, along with Slovenia, Netherlands and Sweden, but the United States had yet to secure a medal of any colour.

Norway's mixed relay team of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Tiril Eckhoff, Tarjei Boe and Johannes Thingnes Boe edged out France and Russian Olympic Committee in a tight finish to the 4 x 6km event, finishing just 0.9 seconds clear.

Roeiseland said: "We did a great job, the whole team, and I'm so happy to race with such good team-mates. It's my first Olympic gold, so I'm super happy.

"It was so exciting to stand and see Johannes cross the finish line first. It was amazing."

Norway had been fifth after the third leg, but Johannes Thingnes Boe showed his prowess to guide the Norwegians into first place, in the event that combines cross-country and rifle shooting.

He said: "My feeling to anchor team Norway for gold, it doesn't get any bigger than this."

 

Norway's Therese Johaug had earlier won the first gold of the Games in the women's skiathlon, a 15km event.

Johaug was banned from the 2018 Games after a prior doping violation, but in Beijing she was an emphatic champion, finishing over half a minute ahead of Russian Olympic Committee's Natalia Nepryaeva and Austria's Teresa Stadlober, who took silver and bronze respectively.

China's golden moment arrived with success in the short track speed skating mixed team relay, narrowly beating Italy in the final.

Slovenia triumphed in women's ski jumping, Netherlands in women's speed skating and Sweden in men's freestyle skiing moguls.

Shaun White has confirmed the Winter Olympics halfpipe will be his last snowboarding event before retiring from the sport.

The American has a place in Games history under lock and key already, as the first and so far only snowboarder to win three gold medals.

"I really want to finish my career strongly on my own terms and put down some solid runs. If I could do that, I'll be very happy," White said on Saturday.

"I don't know how many kids really aspire to be a cowboy and get to be a cowboy. At a young age, snowboarding is what I wanted more than anything and to be walking in these shoes today is just incredible. It feels so amazing, I'm so proud."

White said he came close to missing a Games bus on Friday night because he was too occupied with trading USA team pins – an Olympics ritual that sees stars and participants swapping the colourful pin badges, amassing collections to take away as mementos.

"I'm having as much fun as I can," White said.

It is worth remembering what White has brought to the Winter Olympics and snow sport as a whole.

At the X Games – the Mardi Gras of extreme sports – White has totted up 23 medals, of which 15 have been gold. Thirteen of those gold medals have come in snowboarding, but two came in skateboarding, highlighting his prowess there.

Eight of his X Games golds came in the halfpipe event, with the other five achieved in slopestyle, the snowboarding variant that features obstacles.

He was the first snowboarder to score a perfect 100 in the halfpipe in the Winter X Games, achieving that 10 years ago in Aspen, Colorado.

White triumphed first at the Games as a 19-year-old in Turin in 2006, defending his title in 2010 in Vancouver, and recovering from the jolt of missing out on the Sochi podium four years later by landing gold again at Pyeongchang.

His score of 97.75 in his second run at Pyeongchang stands as an Olympic record.

His final bid for glory is coming up, with men's halfpipe qualifying taking place on Wednesday, before Zhangjiakou's Genting Snow Park stages the final runs on Friday.

"It will be my last competition, which is pretty special," said White, in a news conference on Saturday.

It was already known this would be his final Olympics.

Now 35, White has been snowboarding since the age of six. The red-haired Californian goes by the nickname of 'The Flying Tomato', and he says the experience of knowing this is his farewell Olympics is "pretty heavy, but I'm enjoying it".

"It's been a beautiful run. Let's see this through and see what's next," he said. "I definitely don't think I'll be leaving the sport anytime soon. All these people within an industry that ride backcountry and pipes. I'm just excited for the next chapter."

After the bright lights, the pageantry and the controversy of the opening ceremony, the first medals of Beijing's Winter Olympics will be won on Saturday.

There is gold, silver and bronze glory up for grabs across a range of skiing and skating events.

Here, Stats Perform provides a rundown of the medal events taking place in Beijing on Saturday.

Biathlon

The mixed relay is the first medal event at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre, with the 4 x 6km getting under way late in the day.

Norway, Belarus, France, Sweden and Russian Olympic Committee are among the titans in this discipline, so one of those would appear likely to strike gold, with 20 teams entered for the event that mixes cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.

Cross-country skiing

The women's skiathlon at Zhangjiakou sees competitors complete 7.5 kilometres in the classic cross-country format before switching to skate skis for the final 7.5km stretch.

Russian Olympic Committee's Natalia Nepryaeva and Sweden's Frida Karlsson are likely gold medal contenders here, with Norway's Therese Johaug and another Swede, Ebba Andersson, also in the mix.

Freestyle skiing

Canada's Mikael Kingsbury is favourite to top the podium in the men's moguls, one of the most eye-catching sports at the Games. The defending champion began his Beijing 2022 campaign with a flawless run in qualifying for Saturday's final, and is the one to beat.

Kingsbury broke two vertebrae in his back in 2020, but he rebounded to win double gold at the 2021 World Championships, his speed over the bumps and mastery of the aerials an effective combination.

Short track speed skating

The mixed team relay could be where China secure a first gold medal of the Beijing Games. Netherlands and Russian Olympic Committee will likely be in with a shout too, but China led the recent World Cup standings with two wins from four races, plus podium finishes when they missed out on first place.

There are quarter-finals and semi-finals to negotiate, however, as the event makes its debut on the Olympic programme.

Ski jumping

Austria's Marita Kramer was expected to be a leading contender for gold in Saturday's women's normal hill event, but testing positive for COVID-19 has kept her out of the Games.

Calling a likely champion in her absence is a tough call, but Japan's Sara Takanashi, who has won 61 World Cup events, has to be in the conversation. This is her third Olympics, with Takanashi looking to improve on her bronze from Pyeongchang. Slovenian Ursa Bogataj and Germany's Katharina Althaus are in form, and both will fancy their chances.

Speed skating

The women's 3,000 metres features five-time gold medallist Claudia Pechstein, the 49-year-old German who has nine Olympic medals in all. Don't expect her to land a podium finish this time, given that last happened in 2006.

Czech world record holder and three-time Olympic champion Martina Sablikova is in the field, while Netherlands' Irene Schouten has strong credentials, along with her countrywoman Antoinette de Jong and Canada's Isabelle Weidemann.

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