Live Updates

Day 1 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

'Didn't see ourselves represented': This figure skating pair is ditching the gender norms rooted in their sport
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What we covered here

  • The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are underway, with the first gold of the Games won by Norway’s Therese Johaug. The first full day of competition included freestyle skiing events, speed skating and slopestyle qualifying heats.
  • The Games will run until Feb. 20 as Beijing becomes the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
  • This is the second Olympics to be hosted during the pandemic — but this time, athletes are confined to a “closed loop” far stricter than Tokyo 2020’s bubble.
  • Political tensions have dominated the buildup to the Games, with several countries including the US imposing diplomatic boycotts in protest of China’s alleged human rights abuses.

Our live coverage has ended for the day. Read up on the latest out of Beijing below.

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What's coming up for the Winter Olympics on Sunday

Day two of the 2022 Winter Olympics will include events in ski jumping, curling, ice hockey, snowboarding, luge and figure skating, to name a few.

These are some key moments to look out for:

Can Norway remain on the up with the men’s downhill?

Norway’s in-form Aleksander Aamodt Kilde laid down a marker by setting the fastest time on Friday in the wind-affected second training run for the men’s downhill.

The 29-year-old set the pace on the new course, dubbed “The Rock.” With no test events held at the newly designed slope because of the pandemic, it is arguably the fairest downhill race in history as everyone is new to the course.

There will also be a fresh winner crowned, as Aksel Lund Svindal, who has since retired, won in PyeongChang four years ago — the first time Norway claimed top spot in the marquee event. 

Figure skating: A long way to go with the short program at the team event

Nathan Chen, considered the gold-medal favorite in figure skating’s men’s singles event, finished in first place last Friday in the men’s short program of the team event, giving the US team an edge to win an early medal in Beijing.

On Sunday, it is the turn for the women to take to the ice in the short program, so it should mean a first Olympic look at 15-year-old Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee. Valieva has already broken world records — and look out for her quad jumps. The team skating event format is almost like a mini-Olympics: Every team enters a man, a woman, a pairs team and a set of ice dancers, and the five best-scoring countries advance to a free skate on Monday, where the team with the most points after all the events are completed wins. 

Podium predictions

  • Snowboard: All eyes will be on New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott as she tries to hold off the double Olympic champion Jamie Anderson of Team USA in women’s slopestyle. No snowboarder has won three golds in a row at the Olympic Games, as Anderson aims for history. 
  • Cross-country skiing: Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo leads the field in the men’s 15km + 15km skiathlon final.  
  • Freestyle skiing: The women’s moguls takes place under the lights with a likely duel between Perrine Laffont of France and Jakara Anthony of Australia.   
  • Speed skating: Nine-time Olympic medalist Sven Kramer of the Netherlands goes for his 10th in the men’s 5000m. 

US bobsledder cleared to compete in Olympics after negative Covid-19 tests

Elana Meyers Taylor has been cleared to compete after testing negative twice for Covid-19.

American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor has been given the green light to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games after testing negative for Covid-19, according to the official Olympics site.

Two days after arriving in the Chinese capital, she tested positive and has been self-isolating.

“I’ll be leaving tonight, which is the morning for you guys, and headed to another hotel, so I can start the process of getting back into training and getting everything ready to race,” she told NBC’s Today Show this morning.

Meyers Taylor was put into self-isolation after testing positive, where she continued to train during the week, while awaiting to be cleared. 

Meyers Taylor, who won two silver medals and a bronze at previous Olympics, is a two-time women’s bobsled world and overall World Cup champion. She is scheduled to compete in the women’s monobob and two-woman bobsled events.

She traveled to Beijing with her nearly 2-year-old son, Nico, and her husband, Nic Taylor, who is an alternate bobsledder for Team USA.

When she found out about her positive test, she wrote on Instagram:

“I am asymptomatic and currently at an isolation hotel- and yes I am completely isolated. Getting to the Olympics is never easy, and this time, as a new mom, it has been the most challenging, but also, incredibly rewarding, to be able to show that it can still be done. So many people, especially other moms from all walks of life, have been so supportive of my efforts to get back to the Olympics. It’s been an incredible wave of positivity that I’ve been riding to a while so I’m going to continue to do that. This is just the latest obstacle that my family and I have faced on this journey, so I’m remaining optimistic that I’ll be able to recover quickly and still have the opportunity to compete.”

Taylor said she hopes to stand on the podium with her son in her arms.

She had also been chosen as Team USA’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony, but speed skater Brittany Bowe was selected to walk on her behalf.

CNN’s Homero DeLaFuente contributed to this post.

Figure skating pair Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc chart their own path

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc skate during the US Figure Skating Championships on January 6, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Competing in a discipline with synergy at its heart, figure skating pair Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc have found a winning formula on their way to qualifying for the Winter Olympics.

“Dad jokes and puns, mostly,” is what LeDec quips as being key to the duo’s success. “And a lot of hard work … we can work super hard and push ourselves beyond what we knew was possible.”

The American pair say their bond off the ice influences how they perform on it, propelling them to new heights in their skating careers.

After winning their second national title last month, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc are now preparing to compete in their first Winter Olympics in Beijing.

It will be a landmark moment regardless of how they perform in the pairs events with LeDuc, who identifies as gay, set to become the first out, nonbinary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics, according to Team USA.

For the duo, who have been competing together since 2016 and have both taken breaks from competitive pairs skating, the build-up to the Games has been a chance to reflect on their own journeys.

Frequently, they say, they have found themselves at odds with skating’s norms and expectations during the course of their careers.

“For a long time, Timothy and I didn’t see ourselves represented, and so we didn’t quite feel like we belonged,” Cain-Gribble tells CNN Sport.
“And for a long time, people had things to say about us. Even when we teamed up, they had a lot of things to say about my body, or about Timothy’s sexuality. People still will make those comments.”

Cain-Gribble, who at five-foot-six is taller than most women who compete in pairs skating, has previously spoken about how body shaming almost forced her to retire from the sport.

She adds: “I think for us, it’s about leading with authenticity, being our true selves out there and creating a very inclusive environment.”

Read the full story here:

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Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc: How US figure skaters forged their own paths in a sport where stereotypes run deep

Gone-but-not-forgotten sports of the Olympics: Skijoring, speed skiing and sled dog racing

French skier Michael Prufer competes in speed skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.

At the 1928 Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, demonstration sports — not part of the official program — were included for the first time.

With demonstration events ceasing to exist after 1992, CNN Sports explored some of these “lost sports” of the Winter Games.

Skijoring:

Exhibited at St. Moritz in 1928, skijoring holds the honor of being the first ever demonstration sport at a Winter Olympics.

It has taken many forms over the years. It began with skiers being pulled by reindeer in Lapland, before trying their hand behind horses, dogs and — popularized in the 1950s — behind motorcycles and cars.

The central difference to the European version of skijoring is that in the US, the horse has a rider. While in Switzerland, many competitors grow up on horse ranches and ski, in the US, most are either very accomplished horsemen or very accomplished skiers.

The sport has enjoyed a golden age over the last decade in the US. Some 23 races are slated for 2022, with two more potentially to come in Canada.

Speed skiing:

There are humans hurtling down the sides of mountains faster than an F1 car. Blink and you’ll miss them, some of the fastest non-motorized humans on the planet: speed skiers.

In 2016, Italy’s Ivan Origone flashed down a run of the La Forêt Blanche resort in France, clocking an average of 254.958 kmph (158.42 mph) across his last 100 meters to set a new world record.

For perspective, the World Air Sports Federation states that the terminal speed of the human body free-falling in a stable, head down position is between 240 and 290 kmph (149.13 and 180.2 mph) — speed skiers are effectively plummeting through the sky.

The sport has made just one appearance at the Winter Olympics as a men’s and women’s demonstration event at Albertville in 1992.

Sled dog racing:

Debuting as a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, 90 years later, the sport is still alive and barking as dogs pull their harnessed drivers, or mushers, around courses across the globe.

Most popular in the Arctic regions of North America and Europe, any mention of sledding and the breeds of dogs involved — huskies, malamutes and similar Nordic breeds — always come with the association of snow.

Now, 10 years shy of the 100th anniversary of sled dog racing at the Winter Olympics as a demonstration sport, talk continues to swirl of the sport one day making a return to the Games.

Watch more here:

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Forgotten Winter Olympic sports: Sled dog racing

Norway takes home the gold as China wins big on Saturday

Tarjei Boe, Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway celebrate after winning the biathlon mixed relay 4x6km on Saturday.

Having arrived in China as the most successful country in Winter Olympics history, Norway was quickly into the groove on day one of Beijing 2022.

Norway got off to a golden start on Saturday, with the Nordic country claiming two top medals to take its all-time gold tally to 134. That’s 29 more than the United States, which sits in second on 105.

Norwegian Therese Johaug won the first gold of Beijing 2022 with a dominant victory in the 15-kilometer cross-country skiing race in the women’s skiathlon, cruising to her first individual Olympic title in 44 minutes and 13.7 seconds.

The 33-year-old is competing in her third Games, but missed PyeongChang 2018 due to a positive drug test in 2016.

“I’ve been training a lot for this for many, many years,” Johaug told reporters. “It’s been a special week for us.”

Johaug finished just over 30 seconds ahead of the ROC’s Natalia Nepryaeva, who won silver in a time of 44:43.9.

Austria’s Teresa Stadlober completed the podium, securing bronze with a 44:44.2 finish.

Medal tally for Feb. 5:

  • Biathlon: Mixed relay 4x6km (women’s and men’s): Norway
  • Cross-country skiing: Women’s 7.5km + 7.5km skiathlon: Therese Johaug, Norway
  • Freestyle Skiing: Men’s moguls: Walter Wallberg, Sweden
  • Short Track Speed Skating: Mixed team relay: China
  • Ski Jumping: Women’s normal hill individual: Ursa Bogataj, Slovenia
  • Speed Skating: Women’s 3000m: Irene Schouten, Netherlands

Read more here.

China claims first gold medal at Winter Olympics

China's Wu Dajing, left, narrowly beats out Italy's Pietro Sighel to win the short track mixed relay on Saturday.

China claimed its first gold medal of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, after placing first in the short track mixed relay speed skating event on Saturday. 

The host nation narrowly beat out second-place Italy by 0.016 seconds to claim their first-ever short track mixed relay gold, to a huge roar of the crowd.

China finished with a time of 2:37.348, while Italy notched a time of 2:37.364 for second place. Hungary came in third with a time of 2:40.900.

Monobob? Meet the 7 new Olympic events

Canadian Kaillie Humphries, competing in the monobob for the USA during the World Cup, in Altenberg, Germany.

The 2022 Olympic Games are underway from Beijing, China, and along with the international pageantry also comes the traditional events fans have grown to know and love; hockey, curling, and figure skating, to name a few.

However, this year’s games will introduce the world to seven brand-new events.

Here they are, along with some details on each:

Women’s monobob

As the name suggests, this event features a single, female participant tasked with quickly navigating a sled down the windy, icy track all by her lonesome.

The event joins the pre-existing, traditional bobsled events: four-man, two-man, and two-woman. As such, the Beijing Games mark the first time female bobsledders have had two medal opportunities, bringing them even with men.

In the women’s monobob event, each competitor’s sled is identical, removing any potential design advantages.

Men and women’s big air skiing (two separate events)

For the true daredevils out there, freeskiers will take to the Beijing air in an event dedicated to wowing the crowd — and the judges — with their most creative, challenging, heart-in-your-throat tricks. In events for both men and women, Olympic competitors launch themselves off of a ramp, aiming to execute a single, impressive trick on each run before landing cleanly.

The skiers begin atop a run that stands 50 meters high, and will be judged on five factors:

  • difficulty
  • execution
  • amplitude
  • landing
  • progression

In the Olympic final, competitors will make three runs, with their overall score coming from the two best attempts.

The max score for each run is 100 points.

Mixed team relay in short-track speedskating

Think of a lightning-quick, coed, relay race. Now put it on ice. That’s essentially what this new speedskating event is, as teams of four (two men and two women) race one another over the course of 2,000 meters (18 laps).

The Olympics have already featured a men’s (5,000 meters) and a women’s (3,000 meters) speedskating relay; this year’s Games, however, will be the first time a mixed-gender event is offered.

The competition begins with each female skater racing for two-and-a-half laps, followed by each male skater covering the same distance. That brings us to 10 laps. The teams’ female skaters go again, each for two laps. Now we’re at 14. Finally, each teams’ male skaters sprint it out for two laps apiece, bringing the total laps covered to 18.

The first team to the finish wins, with medal positions expected to be decided by mere fractions of seconds.

Mixed team ski jumping

It began with men’s ski jumping, back in 1988.

Women ski jumpers joined the fun 20 years later at the 2018 Olympic Games.

Now a third medal-earning opportunity has been added to the discipline, as teams of four — two men, two women — compete on ski jumps that feature a 98-meter takeoff.

The event follows a woman-man-woman-man format, with the athletes being individually judged on elements including style and distance. Each skier’s score is added up to produce the team total. Look. Out. Below.

Mixed team snowboard cross

In a modern-day version of “last one to the bottom is a rotten egg,” this event features teams of two, one woman, one man, racing from a starting gate atop a mountain, to the finish line down below.

It’s pure speed, with various obstacles and tests of aptitude — drops, turns, jumps — sprinkled in throughout the course.

The man begins, and only when he reaches the bottom can the starting gate re-open, allowing his female teammate to begin her descent. The team whose woman reaches the finishes line fastest earns victory and is thus, most certainly, NOT a rotten egg.

Mixed team aerial freestyle skiing

Never before has aerial freestyle skiing been a team event. That all changes this year in Beijing, as teams of three combine forces to reach new heights and land upon the medal stand.

Athletes propel off a jump and soar into the sky, where they will engage in a collection of twists and turns, flips and spins, before ultimately, and hopefully, sticking the landing at the slope’s bottom.

Each three-person team must have at least one male and one female, and the combined marks of the skiers will produce the team’s total score.

Norway wins second gold medal of the Games

From left, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tiril Eckhoff and Tarjei Boe celebrate during the medal ceremony on Saturday.

Norway has clinched its second gold medal in the Games so far, this time in the biathlon mixed relay 4x6km.

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Tiril Eckhoff, Tarjei Boe and Johannes Thingnes Boe took the gold medal with a time of 1:06:45.6, according to the official Olympics site.

It was the first Olympic gold for Roeiseland, who told reporters she was “super happy” with the result.

Eckhoff added:

“It was an amazing relay. It was so much up and down, and I had a really tough leg, but I had amazing teammates who made it possible. I don’t know about you guys, but I think this was one of the relays with the most excitement ever, so it was very fun for us,” she said.

When asked if he thought he could close a gap in the final meters, Boe said: “I saw early I gained some seconds, and then I believed I can catch them.”

“With the two-kilometer course here, I knew it was going to end up a sprint and I’ve been prepared since I came here on Monday. I trained what to do and did my best performance and my preparation for last week, I already did it in my head 100 times,” he added.

The Norwegian team is the reigning world champion in this event, according to the Olympics website.

Medal winning athletes at Beijing 2022 get to take home panda souvenir

Athletes that make the podium in Beijing will have more than just a medal to take home.

All medal-winning athletes will receive a special souvenir for their achievements – featuring panda mascot Bing Dwen Dwen and a golden garland of pine, bamboo and plum flower, a traditional Chinese art motif known as the “three friends of winter.”

The trio is known as such because they do not wither in winter, embodying “steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience.”

According to the official Olympic website, “Bing” has several meanings in Mandarin Chinese, though the most common is ice. The word also symbolises purity and strength.

“Dwen Dwen” means robust and lively, and also represents children.

The Bing Dwen Dwen design – created by Cao Xue – was chosen from over 5,800 submissions from China and 35 countries around the world as part of a global competition arranged by the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, added the official Olympic website.

Dutch speed skater aiming for gold after suffering severe burns in wood-burning stove accident

Sjinkie Knegt competes at the ISU World Cup in Dordrecth, Netherlands, in November 2021.

Dutch speed skater Sjinkie Knegt competes on Saturday at Beijing 2022, yet the fact he is taking part at the Winter Olympics is an achievement in itself.

The 32-year-old was hospitalized with severe burns for seven weeks after burning wood fell onto a bottle of thinner which exploded as he lit the wood-burning stove at his home in January 2019.

Knegt suffered burns to his face, chest, legs and feet after his clothes caught fire, with his recovery complicated by a leg injury he had sustained a month prior following a forklift truck accident.

His story was the subject of “Sjinkie: Playing with Fire,” a documentary by Dutch broadcaster NOS.

“I knew the images were there, but they really shocked me,” said Knegt, who admitted that he found the program difficult to watch.

“The first time I saw it, it was hard to swallow. Knowing that I made it this far after all that, is something I can only be proud of.

“I sometimes downplayed it all and spoke about it as if everything would be alright, but when I heard the doctors speak about it in the documentary, it was pretty heavy to take,” added Knegt.

The 2015 short track speed skating world champion watched the documentary “four, five times” before it was officially released.

Since the documentary aired, Knegt has received plenty of supportive responses, which have helped motivate him following his return to competition in February 2020.

Claiming silver in the 1500m at the Dordrecht World Cup event in November 2021 was another “a nice boost” for Knegt.

“It was such a relief … after all I have been through,” said the 32-year-old skater as he reflected on being selected for his fourth Games.

“I’m prouder than ever, and I am super happy to be able to compete for the medals again.”

Knegt kicks off his Beijing journey in the mixed team relay at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Saturday, his first of four chances at a medal at the Games.

“Of course, I would love to win a medal individually, but if I win one with the relay I would be more than happy too,” said Knegt, who won bronze at Sochi in 2014 and silver at PyeongChang four years later.

“Although I prefer the gold, I’m happy to win a medal of any color.” 

Dutch speed skater Schouten wins women's 3000m gold in Olympic record time

Netherlands' Irene Schouten won women's 3000m speed skating on February 5.

Irene Schouten of the Netherlands set a new Olympic record en route to gold in the women’s 3000m speed skating event.

Schouten pipped Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida in a thrilling race to win with a new Olympic record time of 3:56.93.

Isabelle Weidemann took bronze to round out the podium, securing Canada’s 200th Winter Olympics medal.

“There was a lot of pressure for myself and for the Netherlands and I’m so happy I made it,” said Schouten.

“I was in the last pair and you see all the girls race in front of you, and they raced really fast.

“Four years ago I did not qualify, so I wanted this one. When I was young I had a big dream to win Olympic gold and now I have it.”

Schouten’s blistering time topped a 20-year-old existing Olympic record set at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

That year, the gold medal was won by Germany’s Claudia Pechstein. Two decades later in Beijing, Pechstein competed in the race that saw the record change hands – finishing 20th in a time of 04:17.16.

Oldest competitor in Beijing: Claudia Pechstein, 49, competes at record eighth Games

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein celebrates after competing in the 3000m event on February 5, becoming the first woman to participate in eight Olympic Winter Games.

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein is the oldest competitor – male or female – in Beijing this month.

And after competing in the women’s 3000m gold medal race on Saturday, the 49-year-old Pechstein now shares the record for most Winter Olympic appearances with legendary Japanese skier Noriaki Kasai having already competed in seven previous Games.

Pechstein’s first Winter Games came in Albertville, France in 1992.

The 49-year-old, who was a flagbearer for Team Germany at Friday’s Opening Ceremony, has a wealth of experience on her side and has won nine Olympic medals during her lengthy and controversial career, including five gold medals.

READ: The youngest and oldest Winter Olympians competing at Beijing 2022

Pechstein was given a two-year doping ban after she returned irregular tests in 2009 but has consistently denied taking performance enhancing drugs – the Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed her suspension.

She may not be at her peak anymore, but an eighth Winter Games is something to note and no other woman has managed the feat.

Pechstein finished last in Saturday’s gold medal race, but she celebrated with a double fist pump and smile.

“I was not too fast, but I smiled because today I got my goal to race in my eighth Olympic Games. This was important for me,” said Pechstein.

“Yesterday I carried the flag. It was an amazing moment, a top moment in my career.

“The result of today was not so important, it was just to race and to be here. I am super proud.”

South Korea angry over 'stealing of culture' during Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony

Team South Korea at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 4.

South Korea’s political parties have accused China of cultural appropriation after a woman appeared to be wearing a traditional Korean dress during the Opening Ceremony.

South Koreans have long been irked by what they deem to be China passing off South Korean culture as their own, including the traditional Korean dress called the hanbok.

Koreans are one of China’s 56 officially recognized ethnic groups.

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party released a statement on Saturday criticizing China and demanding it stops “stealing” its “culture.”

“China has been using its Korean ethnic minority since June 2001 to appropriate the history of the North East region (where Korea traces its roots),” it read.

“China’s brazen stealing of culture at a time like the Olympic Games which draws the world’s attention cannot be ignored.

“We express deep regret that China showed Korean traditional dress as Chinese traditional dress at the Beijing Olympic Games and we demand that China stop the stealing of culture.”

South Korea’s main opposition party, the People’s Power Party, also released a statement which read: “How soft (China) must think South Korea is to flagrantly display cultural stealing at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics where the world is watching.

Adding: “The government must lodge a clear protest and receive an apology and a guarantee that it won’t be repeated.”

Artist Ai Weiwei helped create the iconic Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. He now regrets how it's being used

As the Beijing Winter Olympics get underway, artist Ai Weiwei is once again criticizing China’s ruling Communist Party — and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which he said is “ignoring” the safety of the country’s athletes by prioritizing business and “standing next to the authoritarians.”

Dissident in exile: The world-renowned Chinese dissident and rights activist made the comments to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview from Portugal, where he has been living in self-exile since 2021.

Fearing for his safety were he to return to China, where he was once detained for 81 days for “inciting the subversion of state power,” Ai has resided around Europe for almost seven years.

Beijing’s iconic stadium: Years prior to his departure from his home country, Ai famously consulted on the design of the venue hosting Friday night’s Opening Ceremony: the Beijing National Stadium, or “Bird’s Nest.”

But the artist distanced himself from the project and criticized China’s hosting of the Olympics ahead of the Opening Ceremony, believing it to be a propaganda tool at odds with what he felt were the oppressive realities of life in the country.

“Unfortunately, as an architect, you cannot control how the building is being used,” Ai told CNN in an interview. “For me, it’s a big disappointment, not only in how it’s being used but also in the directions China (has taken) in past decades.”

Read the full story here.

Snowboarding legend Shaun White to retire after Beijing 2022

American snowboarder Shaun White is calling time on his Olympic career after Beijing 2022.

American snowboarder Shaun White has announced he will retire after the Beijing Games, calling time on an illustrious career.

The 35-year-old has won three halfpipe Olympic gold medals since his Games debut at Torino 2006, adding 13 titles at the Winter X Games to become one of the sport’s most iconic figures.

“It will be my last competition, which is pretty special,” White told the media in Zhangjiakou, China, on Saturday.

“Everything’s got this extra excitement to it. The last time I’ll be doing this [pre-race press conference], the last time sitting with you guys [his USA teammates], the last Opening Ceremony, all these things.

“So it’s pretty, pretty heavy, but I’m enjoying it.”

White took gold in his maiden Games in Italy before adding his second at Vancouver four years later.

A nasty training crash in 2017 — which left White requiring 62 stitches — looked to have endangered the American’s hopes at the PyeongChang Games in 2018, but he made a swift recovery to win his third gold with the “performance of his life” just four months later.

In doing so, he avenged the pain of narrowly missing out on a medal at Sochi four years prior.

As he prepares to compete at his fifth and final Games, White reflected on his journey, an “incredible” Opening Ceremony and his legacy.

“I’ve been giving it my all. There have been ups and downs to get here, but through it all, I’ve gotten stronger and better the whole way and I’m excited to be here,” White said.

“The Opening Ceremony and venue were incredible. In terms of legacy, I’ve done so much in the sport — I hope that my riding speaks to that. I’m always trying to ride and progress and pick up on trends in sport and stay ahead of the competition.”

White is set to begin practice on Sunday, and the American shared his excitement at the prospect of competing at the “beautiful” Genting Snow Park.

Though competitive retirement beckons, White does not believe he will be leaving the sport “anytime soon.”

“I think the beautiful part about snowboarding is there’s still a life to be had than the sport outside of competition with so many names that you know you don’t see in the limelight,” White said.

“All these people within an industry that ride backcountry and pipes. I’m just too excited for the next chapter.”

'Dangerous' high winds cause training session to be canceled for men's downhill skiers

Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde takes part in the men's downhill third training session on February 5, before high winds canceled the rest of the runs.

Referee Markus Waldner says “dangerous” and “unpredictable” gusts of wind caused the cancelation of the third training session for the men’s downhill on Saturday.

Waldner says his team had initially hoped conditions were good enough but that the weather suddenly changed.

“Two hours before we started […] it was good enough to go, similar to yesterday. Also during the forerun — we had five forerunners — it was good enough to go. Safe,” Waldner says.

“But then, suddenly, suddenly these wind gusts were coming, especially on the ‘sugar jump,’ also up above the women’s start.

“This is dangerous. It’s unpredictable. We cannot handle this. These wind gusts are coming so fast.”

Waldner says the outlook for Sunday’s race is more promising and that competition should go ahead if winds stay at a more consistent level.

All skiers have had at least two training runs and three managed to sneak in a third before the decision was made to cancel Saturday’s session.

Closing Ceremony preparations have begun

Filmmaker Zhang Yimou is the director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The Winter Olympics have only just gotten underway, but work has already begun on the Closing Ceremony in Beijing.

The Games were opened with a spectacular curtain-raiser at the Bird’s Nest — Beijing’s National Stadium — featuring the athletes parade through the “Gate of China” before the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

Opening Ceremony director Zhang Yimou said: “Last night, we started the transition for the Closing Ceremony immediately.

“The Bird’s Nest is not a competition venue, which is good for me. We are here to serve the athletes, we hope they feel joy.” 

See the Opening Ceremony in pictures here

Audience cheers rippled through the National Stadium throughout, with Chinese social media buzzing with positive comments.

Zhang, however, was reluctant to score the ceremony.

“You always want me to score my work,” Zhang said.

“As a creator, I am strict to my work and won’t give it a high score, but I will give 100 points to the performers and to my team.

“The biggest feature of the ceremony was innovation.”

Arguably the most innovative feature of the ceremony was the cauldron itself, which saw the lighting of a snowflake with a “micro-flame” instead of the customary large cauldron and large fire.

Formed of 91 small flakes, the snowflake represented the 91 competing nations and regions.

Zhang said that the small flame was intended to “showcase the concept of low carbon, and of Chinese aesthetics”.

“Lighting up the world with one small flame. It is a romantic and surprising way of presenting the cauldron,” Zhang added.

Athletes note impact of climate change at Beijing 2022

Snowmaking machines in action at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou. 

Competition is already underway at the National Cross-Country Skiing Centre but some athletes have been noting the impact of climate change on their sport.

Like many tracks around the world, Beijing 2022 will be reliant on man-made snow and US athlete Gus Schumacher is worried about what will happen with the world getting warmer.

“I think climate change will have the biggest impact on our sport in the years to come,” the skier said.

“There’s a lot of stuff that changes in skiing, but that’s the one that’s going to make it not possible.

“It’s already changing it; there’s less race security, fewer warm-up tracks, fewer places to ski and so fewer people that are interested in doing it.”

While artificial snow is expensive for organizers, athletes have also noticed that the tracks at this year’s Games are slower than normal – in part due to the lack of real snow.

“The course is super, super slow,” said British skier James Clugnet. “It’s so cold, and it’s a bit like a desert next to the track, so when it’s windy, the sand comes into the track.

“You have to reach a certain speed and then you’re all right, but when you’re going slowly, it feels like you’re standing still.

“I’m glad I’m not doing the distance races because I think it’ll be hard. If you get tired, suddenly you’ll go so much slower.

“The strongest athletes will win, but even more so on this course.”

First medals won at Beijing 2022 Games, first gold to Norway

Norway's Therese Johaug celebrates after winning the women's skiathlon 2x7.5km event on February 5 at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Centre. 

The first medals have been earned at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and they come in cross-country skiing in women’s skiathlon.

The gold medal in the 15-kilometer race went to Therese Johaug of Norway, her first individual Olympic gold medal in her career, with a time of 44 minutes and 13.7 seconds. Johaug, 33, is competing in her third Olympics, but she missed PyeongChang 2018 because of a positive drug test in 2016. This is her fourth Olympic medal all time and second gold.

Natalia Nepryaeva of the ROC won silver in a time of 44:43.9, holding off Austria’s Teresa Stadlober, who won bronze in a time of 44:44.2.

American Jessie Diggins, considered a contender for a medal heading into the event, finished sixth.

One of the final torchbearers who lit the cauldron, Dinigeer Yilamujiang of Xinjiang province, was among the starters in this race.

The first gold medal event of the Olympics has begun

Athletes compete at the start of the women's skiathlon 2x7.5km event on February 5 at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Centre.

The first medal event of the Olympics has begun, with the cross-country women’s 15km skiathlon kicking off at 3:45 p.m. local time (2:45 a.m. ET)

Though other competitions took place earlier today, and even earlier in the week before the Opening Ceremony, those were qualifiers that decided which athletes advance to the finals.

At the skiathlon, competitors will have to ski 7.5 kilometers (about 4.6 miles) in the “classical style,” and the other 7.5 kilometers freestyle.

  • In the classical style, the athlete’s skis move back and forth in a parallel motion inside parallel grooves of snow, according to the official Olympics site.
  • The freestyle technique is faster, allowing the skier to move their skis side to side in a movement more like ice skating or roller blading.

At the Beijing Olympic snow park, snowboarders glide by a Great Wall (no, not that one)

Japan's Miyabi Onitsuka competes in the snowboard women's slopestyle qualification run at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou on February 5.

Athletes competing at the Genting Snow Park in China’s Zhangjiakou, one of the three “zones” where Olympic sporting events are being held, might see some familiar Chinese motifs as they flip and jump through the air.

Some of the walls in the snow park – which contains rails and massive jumps for athletes to perform tricks – are built like the Great Wall of China, with its distinctive stone ridges on the top.

Another structure in the park looks like a traditional Chinese house with a sloped roof and wide eaves, like those commonly seen in Beijing’s iconic ancient hutongs – narrow alleyways that run alongside walled courtyards.

The snow park was designed by German company Schneestern, which wanted to bring some local flavor to the Games, according to state-run media China Daily.

“It’s great to have something connected to China and new to the world, which entertains people a little bit more. It’s not just about meeting technical requirements, it’s also a kind of art,” Schneestern CEO Dirk Scheumann told China Daily in 2018, when the snow park was still under development.

China accuses Canada of violating Olympic Charter over diplomatic boycott

China has fired back at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.  

In a statement Friday, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Canada said it had lodged “solemn representations” with Trudeau’s government over its alleged politicization of sport and “violation of the Olympic Charter, in particular the principle of the political neutrality of sport.” 

Some context: Ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday, Trudeau issued a statement promising his “full support” to Canadian athletes, while explaining his reasons for the diplomatic boycott. 

“On the international stage, Canada has been a consistently strong voice for protecting and advancing human rights, and we remain extremely concerned by reports of human rights violations in China, including the persecution of Uyghurs,” the statement said. 
“As a result, Canada is not sending any diplomatic representation to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. However, our Team Canada athletes have our full support as they compete on the world stage.” 

The allegations: Several nations including Canada, Australia and Britain have joined a US-led diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games, pointing to China’s alleged human rights violations of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in its north-western region of Xinjiang.

The US State Department estimates that up to two million people have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang since 2017. China says the camps are vocational training centers, aimed at combating terrorism and separatism, and has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses in the region.

China has denied it: The country has, in recent years, deployed an all-out propaganda effort to shift the narrative in Xinjiang that includes sending state media reporters to the region to supposedly “prove” there is no oppression there and targeting Beijing’s critics overseas.

What it's like to travel 100 miles by train inside Beijing’s Olympic bubble

Getting around Beijing’s Olympic closed-loop bubble is not straightforward but traveling 100 miles (160 kilometers) from central Beijing to Zhangjiakou is an experience of its own.

The journey starts with Covid testing right outside my hotel – a daily ritual of life inside the bubble.

My first destination is the main media center, which serves as a hub for the three-dozen bus lines running in central Beijing – one of three “zones” inside the Olympic closed loop where the sporting events take place.

The media center is the only place I can catch a bus to the train station located in the northwestern suburb of the city.

As the bus drives down the streets of Beijing, it becomes its own mobile mini-bubble, passing local residents going about their daily lives. The front of the bus is completely sealed off behind a thick transparent screen, intended to protect the driver against the spread of the virus.

Statues of the Beijing Olympic mascots at Taizicheng station in Zhangjiakou, China.
A thick partition separates the bus driver from the passengers inside the Olympic closed loop.

After arriving at the media center, I wait half an hour for the bus to the Qinghe railway station. Then the drive takes another 20 minutes.

The railway station is split into two parts: one inside the Olympics bubble and one outside. We enter via a special gate for Olympics personnel to our own waiting room, with the main departure hall for local travelers sealed off behind glass walls.

There is no paper train ticket, only a QR code obtained in advance on a phone app. The check-in process is all contactless – you just scan the code and walk through the gate.

The Qinghe railway station in Beijing.

On the platform, even the train itself is divided: carriages 1 to 5 are for those within the bubble, and carriages 6 to 8 are for travelers outside it. A string of barricades prevent us from boarding the wrong carriages.

Inside the train, everything appears brand new. The smell of disinfectant fills the air, pungent even through N-95 masks. Crew members all wear goggles or face shields, in addition to masks.

Boarding the high-speed rail from Beijing to Zhangjiakou inside the Olympic closed loop.

The train ride itself is very comfortable. As we head northwest, the city landscape gives way to open fields and rural villages, cradled by brown mountains in the distance. We