Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022 (93)

Eileen Gu told herself she was the best before going out and proving it as China's home Winter Olympics superstar landed a second gold medal of the Games in Beijing.

The United States-based teenager triumphed in the women's freeski halfpipe, posting a best score of 95.25 to win comfortably from the Canadian pair of Cassie Sharpe and Rachael Karker.

It made Gu, at the age of 18 years and 168 days, the youngest athlete to win three individual medals at any single edition of the Winter Olympics.

Dubbed the 'Snow Princess', Gu said the Olympic experience had been a life-changer.

"It has been two straight weeks of the most intense highs and lows I've ever experienced," she said. "It has changed my life forever."

After gold in the freeski big air and silver in slopestyle, this was her sign-off event at Beijing 2022, with Gu delivering a mesmerising display of agility and skill after giving herself a pep talk.

"Instead of looking to other athletes and being like, 'Oh, what are they doing? How can I be like them?', I try to build myself up more," Gu said. "So, it's the opposite of what I do in training, but at the top I said, 'My name is Eileen Gu, and I'm the best halfpipe freeskier in the world'."

Gu burst into tears as her achievement sank in. She also cast a little doubt over her future in the sport. Asked if she might consider competing for the USA in future, Gu said: "I have no idea what I'm even doing next year. I'm going to go to college, but in terms of skiing competitively, am I going to continue competing? Who knows?

"I love skiing and I would love to continue competing, but in terms of resources and time and, you know, what else I'm juggling. It just depends, right? I'm going to do whatever feels right and hopefully be able to create some kind of positive change out of any decision that I make."


Medals record for Norway

Johannes Thingnes Boe's fourth biathlon triumph in Beijing established a Winter Olympics landmark as it gave Norway a 15th gold medal, a record haul for a single edition of the Games.

Norway were already the most successful nation in Winter Olympics history, and they have been hammering home that status over the past fortnight.

Boe's latest run to glory came in the 15km mass start, which he won by 40.3 seconds from Sweden's Martin Ponsiluoma. Norway also took bronze through Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen.

The 28-year-old Boe, who also has a bronze from the 20km individual, enjoyed having a team-mate on the podium and said of Norway's record feat: "I feel really proud. We have both been a part of it, winning gold today and also in the men's relay where Vetle won a gold medal for us, so we are making history and as a nation we are really proud."

Norway also landed silver and bronze in the women's 12.5km mass start, which was won by France's Justine Braisaz-Bouchet, ahead of Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland.

Roeiseland's bronze gave her a fifth medal in Beijing, a second third-place finish to add to three gold-winning performances, and she said: "I was maybe not at my best in this cold, but I really tried to fight, and it was so fun to race with Tiril today, we raced the whole race together and the position in the standing was really tough. Today I'm just so happy with the bronze, for me it was like gold actually."

Champion Braisaz-Bouchet said: "I was so shocked I won. I'm really happy to say I'm Olympic champion. It's quite amazing."


Regez leads Swiss cross double

Ryan Regez and Alex Fiva delivered a Swiss one-two in freestyle's men's ski cross, with champion Regez finding the equilibrium he had been seeking all week when it mattered most.

"I've been really nervous for the whole week," Regez said. "It's my first Games and the last big event was the World Championships last year, which Alex won, and I was just super nervous there as well and I was skiing in my head, so thinking whilst skiing and there I messed up.

"Today it was just a lot of pressure on me because I won the last two World Cup events. I'm in the lead of the overall World Cup so for sure everyone was just hoping I would come here and take the victory and eventually it worked out, but there was just so much going on, so much pressure. I phoned a lot with family, friends, and yesterday I had a long talk with my coaches.

"That just calms me down a lot and that was really important. Today actually I wasn't nervous at all, which was quite unusual. In the morning, yes I was, but then as soon as I went on the mountains everything was gone and I just could ski free."

 

Dutch skaters back up to speed

Thomas Krol delivered a fifth long-track speed skating gold medal for the Netherlands team, but a first for eight days after the wins began to dry up.

Krol's victory came in the 1,000 metres, as he edged out fast times from Canada's Laurent Dubreuil and Norway's Haavard Holmefjord Lorentzen.

"It's really hard to express all the emotions that are going through me, a dream just came true," said the 29-year-old, who has aspirations to become a pilot when his sporting career ends. "I'm so intensely happy that I made it. It means everything.

"I was expecting my time not to be fast enough because there were more great skaters coming. So, it was a nerve-wracking 10 minutes for me."

Dubreuil put disappointment at missing out on gold into context, saying: "My daughter especially helped me. She is just three years old, and she doesn't care about my results. Seeing her not even one per cent sad after my race when I called them, she was running around and having so much fun, running and jumping and yelling. It made me realise, it's just sport."

China's "snow princess" Eileen Gu says her life has changed forever after her historic success at the Winter Olympics.

Gu made history on Friday in Beijing, becoming the youngest athlete to win three individual medals at the Winter Games.

The 18-year-old from California, who elected to represent China rather than the United States at the Games, won gold in the halfpipe final, building on her triumph in the big air and her second-place finish in the slopestyle event.

She is also the youngest medallist in women's freeski halfpipe, and the first freestyle skier to win three medals at a single Winter Games.

Indeed, Gu is the first reigning world champion to win the event, and along with American David Wise, she is the only other freestyle skier to win the crystal globe, X Games, world championships and an Olympic gold medal in a single event.

"It has been two straight weeks of the most intense highs and lows I've ever experienced in my life," said Gu, who is also a model.

"It has changed my life forever. The second I landed the last 16 in big air I knew my life was never going to be the same again.

"Even then I would have never imagined that I'd walk away with another silver and another gold.

"I'm so honoured to be here and I'm even more honoured by this platform that I've been given to be able to spread this message and inspire young girls through my own passion for the sport and to hopefully spread the sport to people that might not have heard of it before."

Having already sealed her success heading into her third and final lap, Gu was able to entertain the crowd on her last run.

"I've never taken a victory lap before. I'm always saying, 'I want to push harder, I want to show that I can do more'," she added.

"And today, it kind of just felt like this coming-together moment because it's my last event at the Olympics.

"I put so much work into this, and to just feel like it was all worth it – all those little moments, the time I put in, in the gym after shooting a fashion editorial for eight to 10 hours, when I ran a half marathon every week over the summer, when I pushed myself to be the first person in practice and the last person to leave.

"Just all those little moments I feel like added up and it was just this great realisation that it was all worth it and that it was all real.

"I was very emotional at the top and I chose to do a victory lap because I felt like for the first time I really deserved it, and I really earned it."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach says it was "chilling" to see the way Kamila Valieva was treated by her coach after falling in her figure skating routine.

Valieva was left visibly upset after making a number of errors as she missed out on a place on the podium in Thursday's singles event at the Winter Olympics.

The 15-year-old had been on course to win the title after Tuesday's short programme, having controversially been cleared to compete despite testing positive for trimetazidine in December.

However, the immense pressure Valieva has been under in Beijing appeared to have taken its toll as she could only finish fourth after a score of 141.83 for her final routine had her 224.09 overall at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

Anna Shcherbakova took gold with a combined score of 255.95 and fellow 17-year-old Alexandra Trusova made it a Russian Olympic Committee one-two, with Kaori Sakamoto of Japan claiming bronze.

However, rather than comfort Valieva, coach Eteri Tutberidze instead reportedly asked her "why did you stop fighting?" in reference to an initial mistake on the teenager's opening triple axel.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, IOC chief Bach confirmed the organisation was concerned.

"There is a very sad story about Kamila Valieva," Bach said. "I was very disturbed when I watched the competition on TV, in her performance how high the pressure must have been. This pressure is beyond my imagination in particular for a girl of 15 years.

"Rather than giving her comfort, rather than trying to help her. You could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance. If you were interpreting the body language, it got even worse. It was even dismissive.

"To see her struggling, trying to compose herself, you can see the immense mental stress, perhaps she would have preferred to leave this story behind her.

"All of which does not give me confidence in the entourage of Kamila, neither in regard to what happened in the past or as far as it concerns the future. This was no way to treat a 15-year-old under such mental stress. 

"I hope she has the support of her friends and family to help her through this difficult situation."

Valieva won team gold last week before her failed drugs test came to light, which prompted calls for the youngster to be thrown out of the Games.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling allowed Valieva to compete in the singles, but she is still the subject of an anti-doping investigation and her entourage – including doctors, coaches and other adults surrounding her – are also being investigated.

Sandra Naeslund claimed Winter Olympics gold for Sweden in the women's freestyle ski cross to add her name to an elite list.

The 25-year-old stormed to victory ahead of Canada's Marielle Thompson, with Daniela Maier claiming bronze after Marielle Thompson was bumped down for an infringement.

Naeslund joins Thompson and Jean-Frederic Chapius as the only freestyle skiers to have won Olympic gold, the world championship title and the crystal globe in the event.

Canada have won a medal in all four Games this event has been held, though unlike in 2010, 2014 and 2018, they were unable to stand top of the podium.

Stats Perform picks out some other standout numbers from Thursday's action in Beijing.


7 - Japan's Miho Takagi won her seventh Olympic medal with victory in the women's speed skating 1000m, surpassing China's Wang Meng (six) for the most medals won by an Olympian representing an Asian nation in the Winter Games.

12 - Brittany Bowe claimed bronze in the same event to make it 12 medals for the United States in the women's 1000m, followed by 10 for the Netherlands, who won silver thanks to Jutta Leerdam.

3 - Switzerland's Michelle Gisin became the third athlete to defend her Olympic title in the women's alpine combined after Janica Kostelic in 2002 and 2006 and Maria Hofl-Riesch in 2010 and 2014.

5 - Gisin's team-mate Wendy Holdener won silver for her fifth Olympic medal as Switzerland achieved a gold-silver finish in a women's alpine skiing event at the Winter Games for a third time, previously doing so in the 1956 downhill and 1984 downhill.

7 - Canada prevailed 3-2 winners against the USA in the women's ice hockey final to win their fifth gold medal since its introduction to the Games in 1998. This was the seventh medal in event for both nations, having each made the podium every year the event has been contested.

4 - With two goals on Thursday, Canada's Marie-Phillip Poulin is the only ice hockey player – male or female – to score in four Olympic Games finals, scoring seven times in total across those games.

17 - Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, both 17 years old, won gold and silver respectively in the women's single figure skating, marking the first time that multiple figure skaters under the age of 18 finished on the podium of the event since 1998 when American duo Tara Lipinski (15) and Michelle Kwan (17) won gold and silver respectively.

Eileen Gu has already delighted China by sealing gold and silver medals at Beijing 2022 in freestyle skiing, and she is looking for a third success on Friday.

If the qualifying performance of the 'Snow Princess' on Thursday is anything to go by, Gu will be a worthy hot favourite for the freeski halfpipe.

Elsewhere, Team GB will find out what colour their first medal of these Games will be in the men's curling final, while Netherlands aim for more speed skating gold and biathlon signs off with its final two events.

The two-woman bobsled heats are also due to take place, along with the pairs short programme in figure skating, and the men's semi-finals of the ice hockey as Finland face Slovakia and the Russian Olympic Committee go up against Sweden.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at Friday's medal events:

Biathlon

The men's 15km mass start takes place on Friday, with France's Quentin Fillon Maillet gunning for his sixth medal.

He became the first biathlete to win five medals at a single Winter Games after securing two golds and three silvers in Beijing, although he has not won a men's World Cup mass start race in the past two seasons.

There will be plenty of competition as six of the last seven World Championship gold medallists in the mass start are competing here, including the Boe brothers of Norway.

In the women's 12.5km mass start, which has been rescheduled from Saturday due to anticipated weather conditions, Norway's Marte Olsbu Roeiseland is looking to match Fillon Maillet's current haul by winning a fifth medal in Beijing.

If she does win a medal, Roeiseland will also become the first biathlete to finish on the podium in all four individual events at a single Winter Games.

The last three world champions in this event, including Roeiseland, will be competing, with Italy's Dorothea Wierer and Austria's Lisa Theresa Hauser looking to overcome the dominant Norwegian.

Curling

Great Britain will win a medal at Beijing 2022, which did not look like it would be the case for the majority of these Games.

Bruce Mouat and his team celebrated a hard-fought 8-4 win against the United States in the semi-final on Thursday, and will face Niklas Edin and his Sweden team in Friday's gold medal match after they beat Canada 6-3.

"I'm really struggling to sum it up, but I guess you saw from our reaction there that it was just pure elation," Mouat said after beating the champions from PyeongChang 2018.

"It's going to be amazing. Niklas and his team have been our rivals for so many years now. We’ve played them in numerous Europeans and World Championships, so it feels really nice to be able to play them in a larger final."

Great Britain beat Sweden 7-6 in the round-robin stage earlier at these Games.

Freestyle skiing

As usual when she competes at these Games, all eyes will be on Gu. She comfortably qualified in first place on Thursday with scores in her two runs of 93.75 and 95.50, with no-one else in the field achieving a score higher than 89.50 from either jump.

"I was journaling last night, I wrote some affirmations, I was like, 'I am fresh. I am not tired. I am excited'," the 18-year-old said after sealing her place in the final.

"The joke is I'm actually exhausted, I'm not fresh, but I was writing in my journal to try to convince myself that I was - and it's working, I slept well last night."

Canada's Rachael Karker, Estonia's Kelly Sildaru, who won bronze in the slopestyle, and Great Britain's Zoe Atkin completed the top four in qualifying and will likely be Gu's biggest competition.

Speed skating

In the men's 1,000m, the Netherlands will be aiming to become the first country to win the event at three consecutive Olympic Winter Games, following Stefan Groothuis (Sochi 2014) and Kjeld Nuis (PyeongChang 2018).

Kai Verbij may be their best hope as the reigning world champion, though Thomas Krol leads the World Cup 1,000m rankings. 

China's Gao Tingyu, who won the 500m, is looking to become only the second skater to win both 500m and 1,000m at the same Winter Games after Eric Heiden of the United States did so in 1980.

Norway extended their lead atop the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics medal table with another gold in the Nordic Combined on Thursday.

Erik Valnes and Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo secured gold in the men's cross-country skiing sprint event on Wednesday, and a day later Norway took first place in the men's team Gundersen large hill/4x5km race.

Norway had suffered the blow of being without Jarl Magnus Riiber due to coronavirus, but the team led by four-time Olympic champion Joergen Graabak ultimately coasted to a comfortable win just under 55 seconds ahead of Germany.

Although that was Norway's only medal of any kind on the day, it was enough to increase their lead to four over 10-gold Germany, who – like the United States in third (eight) – did not get any event wins on Thursday.

It was a good day for Canada as well, who beat USA 3-2 in the women's ice hockey final to clinch their fourth gold.

They also took silver in the women's ski cross big final through Marielle Thompson while Sweden's Sandra Naeslund claimed gold, moving them up to fourth ahead of hosts China.

The Russian Olympic Committee had a bittersweet conclusion in the women's figure skating singles. They took gold and silver with Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, respectively, but 15-year-old Kamila Valieva finished outside the medals despite leading the standings after Tuesday's short program routine.

Switzerland stayed one clear of the Russians and moved level on six golds with Austria and the Netherlands when Michelle Gisin took the women's Alpine combined slalom ahead of compatriot Wendy Holdener.

And the final gold of the day went to Japan and Miho Takagi, who finally got the victory she wanted after three silvers at these Games.

She emerged victorious in the women's 1,000 metres speed skating, setting a new Olympic record of one minute, 13.19 seconds.

Medal table:

1. Norway (G14 S7 B8, Total: 29)
2. Germany (G10 S7 B5, Total: 22)
3. United States (G8 S8 B5, Total: 21)
4. Sweden (G7 S4 B4, Total: 15)
5. China (G7 S4 B2, Total: 13)
6. Austria (G6 S7 B4, Total: 17)
7. Netherlands (G6 S5 B4, Total: 15)
8. Switzerland (G6 S1 B5, Total: 12)
9. Russian Olympic Committee (G5 S9 B12, Total: 26)
10. France (G4 S7 B2, Total: 13)

Kamila Valieva was inconsolable after the Russian teenager endured a nightmare free skating routine to slip off the podium at the Winter Olympics.

Valieva had been on course to win the figure skating singles title after Tuesday's short programme, having controversially being cleared to compete despite failing a drugs test.

However, the immense pressure the 15-year-old has been under in Beijing appeared to have taken its toll as she fell on multiple occasions in an error-strewn performance on Thursday.

Valieva, who tested positive for trimetazidine after a test taken in December, could only finish fourth after a score of 141.83 for her final routine have her 224.09 overall at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

Anna Shcherbakova [255.95] took gold and Alexandra Trusova made it a Russian Olympic Committee one-two, with Kaori Sakamoto of Japan taking bronze.

Shcherbakova said: "The importance of this is so huge that I cannot fully understand it yet. At the moment I have only felt the happiness from the fact that I was able to do everything I am capable of in my programme.

"I still haven't realised that the competition has finished and this is the result. I haven't understood what has happened."

Valieva was reduced to tears after she was unable to claim a second medal. She won team gold last week before her failed drugs test came to light and prompted calls for the youngster to be thrown out of the Games.

Drink wine, ski fast - Gisin reveals winning formula

Michelle Gisin led a Switzerland women's Alpine combined one-two ahead of Wendy Holdener, with Federica Brignone taking bronze for Italy.

Gisin was 12th after the downhill but surged to the top of the podium following a rapid slalom run of 52.25 seconds, and revealed a drop of wine helped her claim gold on the back of a super-G bronze.

She said: "I had a glass of wine before the super-G with Loic (Meillard) and Luca Aerni and after the super-G they wrote on my door: 'Drink wine: ski fast'.

"So I drank a glass of wine with them again yesterday, of course."

Mikaela Shiffrin was left feeling "like a joke" after the American recorded her third DNF of the Games.


Canada dethrone USA to claim 'insane' ice hockey gold

It was Canada's day as they beat fierce rivals the United States in the women's ice hockey final, gaining sweet revenge for their loss in the gold-medal match four years ago.

The Canadians came out on top 3-2 at the Wukesong Sports Centre to win gold for a fifth time, and for a fourth time they did it at the expense of their old foes.

Sarah Nurse scored her fifth goal of the tournament and also broke the record for most points (18) and most assists (13) in a women's Olympic ice hockey competition.

Canada forward Sarah Fillier said: "It is insane. I can't stop shaking. It's a dream come true. I don't think I can find the words. I'm still shaking."


Persistence pays off for Takagi

Miho Takagi finally added an individual gold medal to her collection in the women's 1,000 metres, some 12 years after making her Olympic debut, adding to the three silvers she has won in these Games.

The Japanese speed skater clocked an Olympic record time of one minute, 13.19 seconds to strike gold.

A smiling Takagi said: ""I remembered what my older sister 'Nana' said to me this morning, 'It’s amazing if you win four silvers'.

"But I wasn’t able to accept any kind of pressure from outside. All I was thinking about was to finish the race, and start really well. I thought I would just go for it."

Kamila Valieva was in tears after an error-strewn routine cost her a medal in the Winter Olympics figure skating singles competition in Beijing.

The 15-year-old Russian had led the standings following Tuesday's short program routine, having been controversially cleared to compete despite testing positive for performance-enhancing drug trimetazidine.

Valieva was unable to add to the gold medal she won in the team event, though, as she made a string of mistakes under huge pressure at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Thursday.

The teenager fell three times and was distraught after failing to secure a place on the podium, with a score of 141.83 for her final routine - and 224.09 overall - leaving her in fourth place.

There was stunned silence before and after Valieva left the ice to warm applause following such a difficult time for the Kazan-born youngster.

Valieva's team-mate Anna Shcherbakova took gold after she was awarded a score of 175.75 for a classy routine, taking her overall total to 255.95.

Alexandra Trusova made it a Russian Olympic Committee one-two after she produced the best routine of the day, earning a score of 177.13 to finish on 251.73, and Kaori Sakamoto of Japan took silver.

Valieva was inconsolable as her coach attempted to comfort her, having come under such huge scrutiny this week on and off the ice.

Mikaela Shiffrin was left feeling "like a joke" after her latest Beijing 2022 disappointment as the American recorded her third DNF in the women's combined.

Thursday's event provided Shiffrin with a chance to redeem herself after crashing out of the giant slalom and slalom, before finishing ninth in the super-G and 18th in the downhill.

But after recording the best time in training on Wednesday, the two-time gold medallist and reigning world champion endured yet more heartbreak on the main run.

She was fifth after the downhill in the two-event competition and well positioned to earn a fourth Winter Olympics medal heading into the slalom run.

However, Shiffrin – famed for her consistency – skied out of the slalom course at the 10th gate at the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Centre.

Switzerland's Michelle Gisin defended her combined crown by finishing more than a second ahead of team-mate Wendy Holdener, while Italy's Federica Brignone took bronze.

Asked by Discovery+ what is not working for her in Beijing, Shiffrin said: "That's the question you want to know and it's what I want to know too. 

"I don't really understand what's not working on these races. Especially today.

"Even in the GS and slalom I felt maybe I had too high intensity, I was trying too hard, and I just didn't get into my rhythm first.

"Today I was much more relaxed. Just 'Hey it's slalom, I know how to do slalom, I will take the chance to get into my tempo and start pushing each gate and build it from there.'

"I didn't want to hold back on the run just to make it to the finish – and I wasn't. But I also wasn't going 110 per cent. I was just skiing, and it still didn't work. 

"I don't have a really good explanation for it, and you can imagine how annoying that is for me, because I always want to find an explanation. Right now it's just, there isn't one."

Speaking to reporters later on Thursday, Shiffrin went further as she opened up on the hurt of falling short in each event.

"The whole shebang in sport is that you can have preparation, you can have confidence, or maybe you're not fully confident, you can have all of these pieces," she said. 

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I have literally no idea why we keep coming back and doing it. Especially after today.

"But I'm going to come back out tomorrow and ski some parallel GS, because I'm that much of an idiot. I don't know why we keep doing it, but making good turns feels amazing. 

"And I've been doing that these entire two weeks. I wish there was something to show for it. Right now, I just feel like a joke."

Shiffrin has one final chance to win a medal when competing for the United States in Saturday's mixed team parallel event.

Gold for Norway in the men's team sprint classic in cross-country skiing on Wednesday ensured they maintain a three-gold advantage over Germany in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics medal table.

Erik Valnes and Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo brought home the victory for Norway ahead of Iivo Niskanen and Joni Maki of Finland and Russian pair Alexander Bolshunov and Alexander Terentev.

Germany's only gold of the day actually came in the women's team sprint event, finishing ahead of Sweden and the Russian Olympic Committee, with the same three countries also taking the medals in the women's 4x6km relay in biathlon (Sweden gold, ROC silver, Germany bronze).

There were two medals for the United States, who stay in third place in the table, with both coming in the men's freeski slopestyle. Alex Hall claimed gold while Nick Goepper won silver.

It was a productive day for hosts China as they leapfrogged both Netherlands and Austria into fourth place after freestyle skier Qi Guangpu's gold in the men's aerials.

Austria fall to fifth despite silver for Johannes Strolz in the men's slalom, while Sweden are now joint-sixth with the Netherlands after their biathlon gold, with both nations on an identical record of six gold, four silver and four bronze.

The Russian Olympic Committee actually has the second most medals at the Beijing Games with 24, adding a silver and three bronze medals to their tally on Wednesday, but with only four gold they remain in ninth place.

France stay 10th despite gold for alpine skier Clement Noel in the men's slalom. 

Medal table:

1. Norway (G13 S7 B8, Total: 28)
2. Germany (G10 S6 B4, Total: 20)
3. United States (G8 S7 B4, Total: 19)
4. China (G7 S4 B2, Total: 13)
5. Austria (G6 S7 B4, Total: 17)
T6. Netherlands (G6 S4 B4, Total: 14)
T6. Sweden (G6 S4 B4, Total: 14)
8. Switzerland (G5 S0 B5, Total: 10)
9. Russian Olympic Committee (G4 S8 B12, Total: 24)
10. France (G4 S7 B2, Total: 13)

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