Olympics 2022 live updates: USA wins first medal; high winds postpone Alpine skiing event – USA TODAY

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After being shut out of Saturday’s slate of events, the United States is finally on the medal board.

American Julia Marino took silver in women’s slopestyle snowboarding to win her first Olympic medal, four years after finishing 11th in the event at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand took gold while Australian Tess Coady took bronze.

“We all kind of put down our best tricks linked together in a slope run, which isn’t easy to do at all. I just think it’s insanely huge for the progression of women’s snowboarding, because we’re just learning day by day what we’re capable of. And we’re capable of a lot,” Marino, 24, said.

Sunday’s competition will feature four more medal events at the 2022 Beijing Olympics: Freestyle Skiing (Women’s Moguls), Luge (men’s singles), Ski Jumping (men’s normal hill individual) and Speed Skating (men’s 5000m).

Team USA women’s hockey will also be back in action against Switzerland after winning their first two matchups against the Russia Olympic Committee and Finland. 

There was good news on the COVID front, as well, as bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor was cleared to leave isolation after two negative tests.

DAY 1 SHUTOUT: Americans have nothing to show for first full day in Beijing

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ROC takes medals lead, wins gold and silver in cross-country skiing

There’s a new medals leader as of Sunday evening, as the Russian Olympic Committee added gold and silver medals in the men’s 15km + 15km skiathlon. 

Alexander Bolshunov, took home gold with a time of 1:16:09. Four years after falling short of winning a medal in the event in Pyeongchang, Denis Spitsov redeemed himself by finishing in second at 1:17:20, embraced by Bolshunov as he crossed the finish line. Iivo Niskanen of Finland took bronze with a time of 1:18:10.

Team USA’s Scott Patterson finished in 11th with a time of 1:20:10 and Gus Schumacher finished 39th in 1:25:14.

With the two medals, the ROC now has the most medals of this year’s Games so far, with a total of four (one gold, two silvers and one bronze). Norway still has the most gold medals with two. 

— Jordan Mendoza 

Men’s downhill postponed after multiple delays due to high winds

BEIJING — The weather wasted no time wreaking havoc with the Alpine skiing schedule at the Beijing Olympics.

The men’s downhill was postponed Sunday because of high winds, which add an unacceptable level of risk to a race in which skiers are already navigating jumps, turns and uneven terrain at speeds of up to 90 mph. A make-up date was not immediately given.

“We want the race to be fair. We want the best ski racer to be able to win on race day. I’m glad the organizing committee recognizes that,” said Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who would have been the 10th skier, and second American, on the course.

With the Olympics already running on a tight schedule, weather issues can be particularly ruinous in Alpine skiing. There are other races each of the next five days, beginning with the women’s giant slalom Monday, and officials will have to decide whether to double up or wait for a break in the schedule later in the Games.

But that carries its own risk because there’s no guarantee there won’t be delays in other events. The postponement of the downhill race followed the cancellation Saturday of the third and final training run, also because of high winds in the middle section of the course.

There is an added complication in Beijing in that both the speed and technical events are being held at the same venue. So if winds make it impossible to race on one course, it’s a good bet conditions will be similar on the other.

In Pyeongchang, the speed and technical events took place at different resorts about 30 minutes apart.

“We want to race, but it is what it is,” Cochran-Siegle said. “You can’t control the wind.”

— Nancy Armour

Slip-ups drop USA to second in team figure skating

BEIJING — Team USA is now all but certain to earn a medal in the team figure skating competition, but its slim hopes of winning gold likely died Sunday.

After Karen Chen fell in the women’s short program, Vincent Zhou had a shaky showing of his own in the men’s free skate, an event he was favored to win. Zhou bailed on a planned quad flip attempt and finished third behind Japan and Russia with a score of 171.44.

Together, the slip-ups by Chen and Zhou leave the U.S. in second place in the standings with 42 points, sandwiched between the Russian Olympic Committee (45) and Japan (39). They entered Sunday in first.

The other two teams remaining in the competition are Canada and China, though it appears neither would be able to climb back into podium position, even with wins in all of the remaining events.

The team competition will conclude Monday with the free dance, pairs’ free skate and women’s free skate.

— Tom Schad

Marino wins USA’s first medal in Beijing

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — America is on the board with its first medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Julia Marino used a huge second run Sunday to win silver in women’s snowboard slopestyle, giving the United States its first medal overall of these 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Zoi Sadowski Synnott of New Zealand won the gold and Tess Coady of Australia took the bronze.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson crashed in training and qualified fifth. She finished ninth overall Sunday.

— Rachel Axon

Russians overtake USA for lead in team figure skating

BEIJING — The U.S. slipped to second place in the team figure skating event after the women’s short program when Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee dazzled and American Karen Chen took a hard fall.

Chen, 22, skated a clean first part of her short program but slammed into the ice on a planned triple loop jump toward the end. She ended up fifth with a score of 65.20, easing ROC’s path to the top of the standings.

The Russians entered the week as the heavy favorites to win team gold, and they are in position to do so at the midway point of the competition. ROC is first with 36 team points, followed by the U.S. (34), Japan (29), Canada (24) and China (22).

The competition will now shift to the long programs, starting with the men’s free skate later Sunday. Vincent Zhou is slated to skate for the U.S.

— Tom Schad

Ratings for opening ceremony plummet

NBC’s broadcast of the opening ceremony from Beijing drew an all-time low Friday, averaging just 16 million viewers from the U.S. audience, according to the network. The number includes viewership on its entire menu of networks and streaming services, per the early projections.

That’s a massive 43% ratings drop from the 2018 opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, which drew 28.3 million viewers.

There are several reasons that could explain the weak numbers to start these Olympics.

Excitement around these Games has been muted in the U.S. due to the controversy surrounding host country China. The U.S. is one of several governments to stage a diplomatic boycott over human rights issues, including what they have called a genocide occurring against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities in the Xianjing region.

Another potential factor working against NBC is viewer fatigue. Because the Tokyo Games scheduled for 2020 were delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the second Olympics within six months.

It’s also likely that time zone issues have played a role. This is the third straight Olympics in Asia, which means live coverage mostly occurs either early in the morning or overnight for American audiences. The smaller audience for the Beijing opening ceremony was foreshadowed by what occurred in Tokyo, when NBC’s preliminary figures showed an audience of 17 million.

These are still large television audiences for Friday night primetime viewing windows in the U.S. but disappointing compared to previous Games. NBC paid $7.75 billion in 2014 to extend its exclusive broadcast rights of the Olympics until 2032.

— Dan Wolken

US tabs veterans on Day 2 of team figure skating

BEIJING — The U.S. entered Day 2 of the figure skating team event in first place. And it turned to a pair of experienced skaters in hopes that they’ll keep pace.

Veteran Karen Chen was selected to skate the women’s short program over first-time Olympians Mariah Bell and Alysa Liu. Chen, 22, placed 11th at the 2018 Olympics and fourth at the 2017 and 2021 world championships.

On the men’s side, Vincent Zhou was tapped to skate the long program and attempt to build on the performance of Nathan Chen, who set a personal best with his short program Friday morning. Zhou’s long program is set to music from the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

The team competition will conclude Monday.

— Tom Schad

US counting on Chen to stay close with Russia

BEIJING — Karen Chen doesn’t need to be spectacular when she skates in the figure skating team competition Sunday morning, she just needs to be steady. But spectacular wouldn’t be bad.

With the United States holding a surprising lead after the first day of the figure skating team competition, Chen will be the first American on the ice Day 2, competing in the women’s short program. Her goal is to stay as close as she possibly can to Russia’s Kamila Valieva in the team short program. Valieva will be expected to win this portion of the competition. How good are the Russians? Their three women are expected to sweep the medals in the individual competition later in the Olympics.

With the United States ahead of Russia, 28-26, if Chen were to finish in the top three, she would ensure that Team USA would still be at least tied with Russia. (First place is worth 10 points, second place 9, and so on.) A second-place finish and the USA would still be ahead going into the men’s long program, the other event Sunday.

The competition ends Monday with the pairs and women’s long programs and the free dance.

— Christine Brennan

White soaking up every moment of final Olympics

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Shaun White has been relishing the small parts — the last opening ceremony, the last time checking out the halfpipe and, soon, his last Olympic runs.

White affirmed what seemed likely: his fifth Winter Games will be his last snowboarding competition entirely, the last time anyone could see the three-time gold medalist on the stage that he had used to help grow his sport.

“For me, this has all had this amazing glow to every single decision, every single competition because this will be my last Olympics,” White said Saturday. “I’m just so excited about everything. Opening ceremony was incredible. The venue looks incredible. Just enjoying every single moment.”

White said the decision became evident while training in Austria in the lead-up to these Games. He had called off training because of a lingering ankle injury, had pain in his knee despite surgery to repair it and had tweaked his back working out.

— Rachel Axon

Olympic teams raise concerns over quarantine hotels

BEIJING — Not enough food. Inedible meals. No training equipment. Some Olympic athletes unlucky enough to test positive for the coronavirus at the Beijing Olympics feel their quarantine conditions are making a bad situation much worse.

“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired,” Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted on Instagram from one of Beijing’s so-called quarantine hotels.

Her problem wasn’t with any symptoms of the virus. It was the food.

Associated Press

Anderson seeks third consecutive gold in slopestyle snowboarding, two other Americans try for medals

BEIJING — Snowboarder Jamie Anderson is in fifth place after the snowboard slopestyle qualification, leading the way for the U.S. women. The two-time reigning and defending gold medalist scored a 74.35 on her first run, good for a second-place ranking. Her next run was clean until the final moments when she fell.

“I definitely was hoping to get that second run, but I’ll take what I can get,” Anderson told NBC. “I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Fellow American Julia Marino redeemed herself on her second run with a score of 71.78 and sixth place. Rounding out the Americans competing in the final is Hailey Langland in ninth after a clean second run that scored a 68.71. The top 12 advance.

Team USA’s Courtney Rummel finished 18th with a best score of 48.30 and will miss the final.

The final is scheduled to begin Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Alex Ptachick

US beats China in mixed doubles curling; Czech Republic and Switzerland up next

BEIJING — The U.S. mixed doubles curling team picked up another key win Saturday, defeating host China 7-5, roughly 24 hours after squeaking out a win over Sweden.

With those two victories, the team of Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys moved to 3-2 at the midway point of round-robin play. They are now sitting in a tie for fourth place out of 10 teams, with four matches to go. 

The top four teams advance to the semifinal round.

Persinger and Plys’ next match against Canada at 7:05 a.m. ET will be particularly pivotal, with the neighboring countries now tied for that fourth and final spot. The U.S. will then face the Czech Republic and Switzerland on Sunday, and Great Britain on Monday.

— Tom Schad