Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022 (93)

Sweden's Nils van der Poel set a new world record as he claimed his second gold of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Speed skater Van der Poel won the 5,000m race earlier this week and on Friday he outclassed his opposition in the 10,000m event.

Van der Poel smashed his own world record as he recorded a time of just 12 minutes and 30.74 seconds. That cut over two seconds from his previous best, which was set last year.

It gave Van der Poel a 13.85-point cushion over his nearest rival, Patrick Roest of the Netherlands.

In the process, Van der Poel also became the 10th man to win the 5,000m and 10,000m races at the same Games.

To make his triumph even more unique, Van der Poel's time was set at sea level, whereas most of the world records now set take place at indoor ovals at altitude.

Indeed, the last world record set in the Olympic 10,000m race was by Jochem Uytdehaage of the Netherlands, back in 2002.

 

Previously, five other speed skaters had set world records while winning 10,000m Olympic golds.

Van der Poel is the 23rd different winner of the event in the Olympics - it is the event held most at the Games without an athlete winning on more than one occasion.

Remarkably, there was even time for a slip-up in Van der Poel's record-setting run.

"With eight laps to go I felt like 'OK, I've got the gold within control, now I just need to not f**k it up,' which I almost did with two-and-a-half laps to go," Van der Poel said.

"I put my right blade really straight out, I stumbled a little for sure.

"With four laps to go it was like, 'OK, now I can also go for the world record'. I felt like, 'Yeah, I have this in my body on a good day,' and it played out that way."

This was the sixth gold medal for Sweden in the event, but the first since 1988. Sweden's six gold medals trail only the Netherlands (seven).

Roest became the third speed skater representing the Netherlands to win an Olympic medal in four different events, after Ireen Wust (five) and Rintje Ritsma (four).

However, Van der Poel's margin of victory was the largest since Johan Olav Koss triumphed by 18.70 seconds in 1994.

A Ukrainian skeleton star defied demands for politics to be kept out of the Winter Olympics by holding up a "NO WAR IN UKRAINE" sign to television cameras on Friday.

Vladyslav Heraskevych, 23, is competing at his second Games and was in 17th place after the third run of four in the men's event.

Immediately after getting off his sled, Heraskevych walked towards the cameras and revealed his small banner, with its message set against a background of the Ukraine national flag.

It remains to be seen what action, if any, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) takes against Heraskevych.

His political statement comes at a time when tens of thousands of Russian troops are said to have gathered on the Ukrainian border, amid concern of conflict and a possible invasion.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday: "This is a dangerous moment for European security. The number of Russian forces is going up. The warning time for a possible attack is going down."

The IOC is clear on its apolitical standing, however, and rule 50.2 states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Those who breach the rule "may be subject to the IOC's disciplinary proceedings", the IOC said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin was among the world leaders who attended the Beijing 2022 opening ceremony.

Shaun White paid tribute to the new generation of snowboarding stars – those he considers his "legacy" in the sport – after his final run at the Winter Olympics.

The American great finished in fourth place in the men's halfpipe final on Friday after falling on his third run at Genting Snow Park.

It was the last competition at the Games for White, a pioneering figure in the sport for more than 15 years who helped to bring snowboarding into the mainstream.

A five-time Olympian, White won three gold medals in the halfpipe, but he could not match Ayumu Hirano on Friday as the Japanese finally won gold after silvers in 2014 and 2018.

Now 35, White holds the record for X-Games gold medals and golds won by a snowboarder at the Olympics. He never finished lower than fourth at the Games.

Speaking after the competition, White said problems with his leg caught up with him as he tried for a final push for a medal, but he could not be prouder than to see the standard of competition he helped to inspire.

"Over the last few months, it's been wild," White said. "Pushing to give it everything I have, but then realising I am human. I've spent an entire career not being human and doing what people thought was impossible. And then to have my ankle go and then my knee, and I had surgery before the season started.

"All these things wearing and tearing, so to put it down and to even get here, I was so thrilled. What a time of my life to be with those competitors and feel the joy of winning and riding.

"The thought I keep having is, 'Wow, this is the last time I'll be here doing this specific thing. This is the last time I'll be at a competition, stressed out about what points I'm going to get, or is today the day I might really hurt myself trying to push the envelope', you know? It's hard to wake up every day since you were a kid and go, 'Wow, I'm going to do something really scary today and hope I'm okay'.

"Honestly, I keep saying, if I got third, I would have wanted second. And if I had gotten second, I would have wanted more. This is just the competitor in me, but I am happy. I am happy to come back here and ride the pipe and have some fun and be a part of this sport. I think I've earned that.

"I knew my leg wasn't holding, but I knew I had to do something to push the score up. I hadn't landed one of those in practice and thought maybe – hey, I'm pretty lucky – maybe I'll hit it during the run and put it together. I barely made the first one, and so I knew going into that one it was all willpower to make it happen.

"You know, sliding on my back, thinking, 'This isn't how I wanted it to go'. You don't always get what you want, but I have to be thankful for everything I do have and what I have gotten in my career. I've got to be happy for these guys."

Asked about the current state of snowboarding, White added: "Oh my god. It makes me proud. It makes me pretty emotional, you know.

"Everybody was asking me what my legacy in this sport has been, and, I'm like, 'You're watching it'. These younger riders, they have been on my heels every step of the way. To see them finally surpass me is, I think, deep down what I always wanted, you know – to be beaten!"

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva failed a drugs test in December, the International Testing Agency (ITA) has confirmed.

The 15-year-old helped the Russian Olympic Committee to team figure skating gold on Monday at the Winter Olympics. The medals for that event were not awarded due to a "legal issue".

Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a medication that is used to prevent angina attacks but is on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list because it improves blood flow to the heart, from a sample taken on Christmas Day during Russia's national championships.

The positive result was confirmed on Tuesday, a day after her team performance in Beijing, leaving her participation for the rest of the Games in doubt.

A provisional suspension was lifted by RUSADA – Russia's Anti-Doping Agency – on February 9, thus allowing her to continue competing in the Chinese capital, on the grounds of what the ITA labelled a "reasoned decision" that has not yet been disclosed.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the ITA has appealed against that ruling, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is now set to make a swift ruling on the case, with Valieva's next scheduled appearance due to be in Tuesday's individual event.

The case has been complicated by Valieva's age, as a WADA ruling means competitors under 16 are "protected persons", and athletes concerned remain anonymous.

However, the ITA explained why it decided to make the news public, with a statement reading: "Seeing that some in the media did not grant her the same protection and have reported widely on the basis of unofficial information following the postponement of the medal ceremony of the figure skating Team Event at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the ITA acknowledges the necessity for official information due to heightened public interest."

Valieva, who was the first female skater to land a quadruple jump in competition, is the overwhelming favourite for gold in the individual event.

Mikaela Shiffrin has two ugly DNF marks by her name so far at the Winter Olympics, but it could be third time lucky for the American on Friday.

The 26-year-old took home one gold medal from both the 2014 Sochi Games and 2018 in Pyeongchang, and came to Beijing with high hopes of adding to that haul.

Ester Ledecka is among the rivals who will also be targeting the super-G podium, while other multiple champions in action elsewhere on Friday include Shaun White and Dario Cologna.

Here, Stats Perform previews each of the day's medal events. 

Alpine skiing

Shiffrin took super-G gold at the 2019 World Championships, so she cannot be counted out here, providing she cuts out the errors and finishes the course.

Italians Federica Brignone, Elena Curtoni and Sofia Goggia are 1-2-3 in the World Cup standings, so should be factors, while Czech star Ledecka is chasing a second extraordinary double. She took snowboard parallel giant slalom gold earlier in the Games, and after winning both that and the super-G in 2018, she cannot be ruled out.

Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami won the world title last year and sits fifth in the World Cup standings, but a reigning world champion has never won gold in the women's Olympic super-G.

Biathlon

Can Norway's Marte Olsbu Roeiseland upgrade from silver four years ago in the women's 7.5km sprint? Her World Cup form has been good, with two wins in the sprints, so gold is a realistic aim. She already has one gold from Beijing, in the team relay, and a bronze from the 15km individual.

Norway's Tiril Eckhoff has not shown her best form in the World Cup this year, but Roeiseland's compatriot is the reigning world champion, a two-time Olympic relay gold medallist, and could come into the equation.

Cross-country skiing

Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo won gold in the sprint and should again be a factor in Friday's men's 15km classic, but the Norwegian says Finland's Iivo Niskanen is the hottest prospect for top of the podium. 

"He's definitely the favourite I would say, together with [Alexander] Bolshunov," said Klaebo. "All of us need to have the best day we can have, and it will be tough but we're just going to give it all and hopefully manage to have a good day and to have good skis and everything and then for sure it's possible."

Swiss veteran Cologna has won this event in the last three Olympics, but a four-peat seems an unlikely prospect.

Short track speed skating

Netherlands' Suzanne Schulting competes in the women's 1,000m, looking to defend the title, which has not been achieved since Lee-kyung Chun did so in 1998. South Korea and China have won 16 of the 21 medals in this event since its Olympic debut in 1994.

Skeleton

Christopher Grotheer was star of the show as the men's skeleton began on Thursday, leading by 0.70 seconds after two runs. That is a significant gap, with the German's closest rival being his compatriot Alex Jungk.

World champion Grotheer said: "The first run was brilliant, and the second run was also really good. I have a really good first day and I hope [on Friday] I can show this performance too."

Snowboard

American White heads into the halfpipe knowing this will be his career swan song, having decided to retire. Three times a gold medallist, the 35-year-old is bidding to become the first man to win individual gold medals at four Winter Olympics.

White was fourth in qualifying, with Japan's Ayumu Hirano leading the way.

Speed skating

Sweden's Nils van der Poel has made his mark on and off the rink in Beijing, winning gold in the men's 5,000m before making a raft of accusations, claiming the dominant Netherlands team have unduly influenced racing conditions. He goes again on Friday in the men's 10,000m and is the likely champion.

The United States are finally on the move at the Winter Olympics, soaring from 10th to fourth place on the medal table after three golden moments on Thursday.

There were triumphs for Nathan Chen in figure skating, Chloe Kim in the snowboard halfpipe, and the freeski mixed team aerials trio, hoisting Team USA to four golds in China and 10 medals overall.

Historically, only Norway have won more gold medals than the USA at the Winter Olympics.

Germany continue to top the medal table after landing luge team relay gold late on in Thursday's programme, with Norway in second and Austria third.

Chen produced a mesmerising display in a routine to Elton John's 'Rocket Man' as he delivered on the ice, and he said afterwards: "Historically I skated to pretty slower-paced, more classical pieces, so bringing in this faster-pace, very exciting, very happy programme was something I wasn't totally adjusted to from the beginning.

"But as we started working on it, it was something that totally made sense, and was just so much fun to skate to. This programme, no matter what, is always fun for me to skate.

"It means the world. I'm just so happy. It's a whirlwind right now. I had a blast out there."

Kim savoured her success at Genting Snow Park, but the 21-year-old, competing in her second Games after also striking gold in Pyeongchang, is making no promises she will be back for more at Milano Cortina 2026.

She told reporters: "I genuinely don't know how many more Olympics I'm going to do, it's all about how am I feeling mentally and physically.

"What you guys need to understand is this isn't an easy sport. It's really hard. And all the ladies make it look really easy, but I promise you, if any of you tried to do half the things they did, it wouldn't end very well."

Christopher Lillis and the power couple of Ashley Caldwell and Justin Schoenefeld delivered the aerials gold.

Caldwell, who made her Winter Olympics debut as a 16-year-old in 2010, said: "I couldn't be more excited. This is my fourth Games, and I've been in the hunt for a gold medal my entire career.

"To do it with these guys is incredible. Chris has been like a brother to me forever, and Justin is the love of my life, so that really helps."

Medal table:

1. Germany (G6 S3 B0, Total: 9)
2. Norway (G5 S3 B4, Total: 12)
3. Austria (G4 S5 B4, Total: 13)
4. United States (G4 S5 B1, Total: 10)
5. Netherlands (G4 S3 B1, Total: 8)
6. Sweden (G4 S1 B2, Total: 7)
7. China (G3 S3 B0, Total: 6)
8. Italy (G2 S4 B2, Total: 8)
9. Russian Olympic Committee (G2 S3 B6, Total: 11)
10. Slovenia (G2 S1 B2, Total: 5)

Another day, another speed-skating gold medal for the Netherlands at the Winter Olympics.

The Dutch are dominating at the National Speed Skating Oval, winning four of five titles so far, and Irene Schouten is now a double champion in Beijing after adding the 5,000 metres to her 3,000m gold. She became the fifth woman in history to pull off that double.

So far, the Netherlands have totted up four gold medals, two silver and a bronze in speed skating, drawing the ire of Sweden's Nils van der Poel.

Van der Poel, who won the men's 5,000m on Sunday, claimed subsequently that the Dutch are being allowed to bring undue influence to the ice conditions, describing that as "corruption" and "the biggest scandal in our sport".

Netherlands technical director Maurits Hendriks rejected the claims from Van der Poel, saying: "We are really disappointed that Sweden didn't reach out. We feel that before you make statements like this it is good to have a one-on-one chat. We have nothing to hide."

Schouten set an Olympic record of six minutes and 43.51 seconds to land her second gold of the Games on Thursday, with the team pursuit and mass start events still to come.

"Of course, I hope to win [gold] medals in those events as well," said Schouten, "but those are more difficult to win because you're depending on others."

Canadian silver medallist Isabelle Weidemann roared her approval for the champion, saying: "Schouten is incredible. I wanted to cheer for her. She takes the level up so much."

There were plenty of other stars breaking records and posting remarkable achievements, and Stats Perform looks here at the numbers behind their stories.


21 - American Chloe Kim followed her halfpipe title in Pyeongchang with more glory in Beijing, becoming the sixth snowboarder to defend an individual title, and only the third woman, after compatriot Jamie Anderson and Czech star Ester Ledecka. Kim, 21, also became the first United States competitor to win multiple gold medals at the Winter Olympics before turning 22 since Eric Heiden won five gold medals in speed skating in 1980 at Lake Placid. Heiden was also 21 at the time and later became a world-class cyclist, riding the 1986 Tour de France.

1988 - Johannes Strolz was born four years after his father, Hubert, triumphed in the men's Alpine combined at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. On Thursday, Austrian 29-year-old Strolz followed his dad into the Games history books, also winning the Alpine combined. It makes Johannes and Hubert the first parent and child to win the same individual event at the Winter Olympics.

50 - Norway now have 50 Olympic gold medals in cross-country skiing, the first national association to reach the landmark in a single sport at the Winter Games. That is because Therese Johaug won her second gold in Beijing, adding the 10km classic to her skiathlon success. Johaug, who also won women's relay gold at the 2010 Games, joins cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen (eight) and figure skater Sonja Henie (three) as the only Norwegian women to win at least three gold medals at the Winter Olympics.

8 - When it comes to men's figure skating, USA take some beating. Nathan Chen became the seventh US star to win gold in men's single skating. Dick Button began the run of success in 1948 and 1952, and the USA have eight gold medals and 16 medals overall in the event, putting them top of that particular all-time medal table. Eight golds in a single discipline is now also a US record for any event at the Winter Olympics, ahead of women's singles figure skating and men's 500m speed skating (both seven).

24 - The USA had not won a gold medal in freeski aerials since 1998, when they won the men's and women's individual events, but they ended a 24-year wait with glory in the inaugural mixed team aerials. Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld fended off China, with Lillis landing a quintuple twisting triple for a score of 135 points, the best yet of the Games on the aerials course.

Johannes Strolz was a surprise winner in the Alpine combined race on Thursday, as he repeated his father's Olympic achievement.

Hubert Strolz took gold in the same event at Calgary 1988 and his son made it something of a family tradition at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.

Strolz was half a second quicker than anyone else in the slalom and combined with his fourth-best time in the downhill run, it meant he edged out Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway by just over half a second.

It completes a fairytale for the unheralded Austrian, who seemed destined to miss out on the team heading to Beijing after he had his funding cut last year.

Strolz juggled training while working as a police officer to help keep up his income, yet the 29-year-old is now an Olympic champion.

He had a helping hand from compatriot Matthias Mayer, who is a three-time Olympic gold medallist having won the super-G earlier this week, as he lent Strolz some downhill skis to add further charm to a remarkable tale.

"I think I'm a good example of never giving up," said Strolz, who finished only three of 10 World Cup events last season. 

"If you believe in yourself, you have to take your chance and keep going."

Johaug, Schouten double up

Therese Johaug claimed the first gold of the Beijing Games and the Norwegian doubled her personal tally by coming out on top in the women's 10km classic at the National Cross-Country Skiing Centre.

Johaug – who missed the 2018 Games due to a doping ban – beat Finland's Kerttu Niskanen by just 0.4 seconds in an incredibly tight finish. Krista Paramoski, also of Finland, took bronze. 

"It was a close race with the Finnish girls but I was feeling really well at the end of the race. It's so much more fun to stand at the top of the podium when you know that you have won a big fight out there," Johaug said.

"It's a crazy feeling when you’re standing there and you realise it goes your way – 0.4, it's so close."

Irene Schouten, meanwhile, completed a clean sweep of the women's speed skating distance events, setting another Olympic record in the process.

The Dutchwoman triumphed in the 5,000m race, having previously won the 3,000m on Saturday, in which she set a record.

Her time of 6:43.51 on Thursday smashed the Olympic record previously set by Claudia Pechstein (6:46.91) in 2002.

"Schouten is incredible," said silver medallist Isabelle Weidemann. "Just watching her skate, she takes the level up so much. I hope in the future I can push her time and push the event even more. The faster more women can go, the better."

A golden day for Team USA

Nathan Chen capped off a fine day for the United States as he took gold in the men's single free skating.

"I never really felt I'd be able to make it this far in my career," Chen said.

"I'd always of course dream about making the Olympics and winning the Olympics, but I [thought], 'That's hard, I don't know if I can make that happen."

Chen endured a dreadful Olympic debut in 2018 but stormed to the gold medal this time around with a score of 332.60, winning by over 22 points ahead of Japanese duo Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno. 

Team USA's brilliant day began when Chloe Kim made history by becoming the first woman to win two Winter Olympics gold medals in the snowboard halfpipe event, while they also took gold in the freestyle skiing mixed team aerials final.

Their men's ice hockey team, meanwhile, hammered hosts China 8-0.

Iranian Alpine skier Hossein Saveh Shemshaki has been provisionally suspended after becoming the first athlete to return a positive doping test at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) confirmed on Wednesday that Shemshaki, who was due to compete in his third Games, tested positive for an anabolic steroid.

Shemshaki, 36, returned an "adverse analytical finding" in an out-of-contest test on Monday, the ITA said.

"The athlete is prevented from competing, training, coaching, or participating in any activity, during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022," the ITA added in a statement.

"The athlete has the right to challenge the imposition of the provisional suspension before the Court of Arbitration for Sport – Anti-Doping Division (CAS ADD). 

"The athlete also has the right to request the analysis of the B-sample."

Shemshaki was Iran's flag bearer at Sochi 2014, where he took part in the slalom and giant slalom events, as he did four years earlier in Vancouver.

Chloe Kim made history by becoming the first woman to win two Winter Olympics gold medals in the snowboard halfpipe event despite what she described as "the worst practice ever".

The American managed an incredible score of 94.00 on her opening run which ultimately proved enough to claim gold nearly four points clear of Spaniard Queralt Castellet (90.25), who claimed the silver, and nearly six ahead of Japan's Sena Tomita (88.25), who earned the bronze.

The 2018 gold-medallist looked to further etch her name into the history books in her second and third runs by attempting 1260s – a trick that has never been landed at a women's halfpipe event – but was unable to make it stick.

Kim, who became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding four years ago at the age of 17, explained that her first-run performance surprised her after a difficult practice session and that her high score granted her the freedom to try the 1260s.

"I was so proud of myself," Kim said. "I had the worst practice ever. I probably landed my run twice when I'm used to landing it eight times, normally, and so that puts you in a weird headspace. It felt so inconsistent.

"I didn't want to feel all that pressure of having to land my first safety run [in competition]. I overflowed with emotion when I was able to land it on the first go, and it opened up a lot of opportunity for me to go try something new.

"[Progression] is so important and after I put down the first run, I got two attempts at landing the cab 1260. I'm super proud of myself for going out and trying to do it.

"I'm looking forward to being able to land it at the next one. Now I'm so eager to see my family, my boyfriend, my dog. Then I will feel all the feelings and be proud of myself."

Kim spent 19 months away from snowboarding in 2019-20 but returned to the sport last year, claiming a sixth X-Games crown and a second World Championship gold.

The 21-year-old revealed that she was feeling the positive impact of sports therapy and felt in a stronger mental state for this year's Games and beyond.

"I am more prepared this time," Kim continued. "Luckily, it was a learning curve since the last time.

"Now that I've grown up a little more and I understand boundaries and I have an amazing therapist, so I think it will make the journey a lot more doable."

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