Another shocking mistake has taken American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin out of contention for a gold medal in her second consecutive event at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
(Looking for a recap of Tuesday’s events? We’ve got you covered.)
Shiffrin, who wiped out in the giant slalom on Monday, was one of the favorites in an event where she claimed the gold eight years ago in Sochi. But she skied out after the third gate in her opening run and was eliminated.
Meanwhile, Shaun White and Chloe Kim will make their 2022 debuts in the men’s and women’s halfpipe. White, a three-time gold medalist in the event, is competing in his final Olympics.
We’ll also get another good look at those decommissioned cooling towers in the background of the freestyle skiing venue, where Chinese-American Eileen Gu won gold in the women’s Big Air competition. The men’s final is coming up today with three Americans in the field.
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Shocking disappointment for Mikaela Shiffrin in women’s slalom
BEIJING – Mikaela Shiffrin’s second race ended even sooner than her first.
The two-time Olympic champion skied out after the third gate in the first run of the slalom Wednesday. She had appeared to slip around the second gate, but kept her balance, only to ski off the course after the next gate.
Afterward, she sat in the snow and took a long look at the course.
The DNF comes two days after she skied out after the fifth gate in the first run of the giant slalom. Shiffrin called that a “huge disappointment” and said she would never get over it, but would have to put it to the side because she still had races left at the Beijing Olympics. Clearly, though, she wasn’t unable to get past it, and now the pressure on Shiffrin, who was predicted to win multiple medals here, will only grow.
Mikaela Shiffrin seeks redemption in women’s slalom
Despite wiping out in her first event in Beijing, Mikaela Shiffrin still needs just one more Olympic gold to put her all alone among American alpine skiers. She currently has two gold medals, tying Americans Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence.
Her journey, however, has been anything but smooth. From a back injury late last year to a COVID-19 diagnosis, to Monday’s disappointment, Shiffrin has experienced a wealth of emotions.
As USA TODAY’s Nancy Armor writes, Shiffrin can’t let her earlier mistake carry over into the other races on her Olympic schedule.
Chloe Kim defending 2018 Olympic title in women’s halfpipe
Chloe Kim the first athlete to hold snowboarding titles from all four major events: the Olympics, World Championships, X Games, and Youth Olympics. She is also the only athlete in X Games history to win three gold medals before the age of 16.
She’ll compete in the women’s snowboarding halfpipe in Beijing, with qualifying already underway.
Since halfpipe snowboarding debuted in the Olympics in 1998, no woman has won two gold medals. But Kim isn’t just aiming for a medal. She’s trying for three new tricks.
Though she hasn’t said what they are, it’s safe to guess they would progress the sport since she is already doing some of the hardest tricks in halfpipe snowboarding.
–Analis Bailey, Rachel Axon
Shaun White’s last Olympics and chance for gold
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be Shaun White’s final ride.
One of the most recognizable figures in Team USA history, thanks to his flowing red hair and podium success, the legendary snowboarder said on Dec. 15 these Olympics – his fifth – will be his last.
By now, the sport has caught up to White, and he would be the first to say so. That won’t stop him from seeking a fourth gold medal in the men’s halfpipe in Beijing to add to his legacy.
Outside of the Olympics, White has 15 Winter X Games golds, in addition to five Summer X Games medals in skateboarding.
Another Russian women’s hockey player out due to positive COVID test
BEIJING – Confusion and controversy surrounding the Russian women’s hockey team’s COVID-19 situation took another turn Tuesday in Beijing.
A day after Russia’s game against Canada was delayed an hour as the teams awaited that morning’s test results, another Russian player – forward Polina Bolgareva — tested positive for the virus, coach Yevgeni Bobariko told state news agency RIA Novosti, according to The Associated Press and Reuters.
That brings the total number of Russian players out due to COVID isolation – meaning they’ve tested positive and have not received two negative tests more than 24 hours apart – to eight, per the AP.
Canada and Russia played their game, a 6-1 Canadian victory, with KN95 masks on their faces. Russia removed the masks prior to the third period because the test results came back, they said afterward. Canada left the masks on.
“Everybody saw how we played against Canada with masks and took them off after the second period, when we received the results of our tests. They were all negative,” Bobariko told the state news agency, per Reuters.
But Bolgareva’s results “turned positive” upon returning to the Olympic Village after the game, the coach said.
“I don’t understand how this is happening,” he added.
Bolgareva played 17:39 against the US on Saturday, a 5-0 US win.
The International Ice Hockey Federation attributed Monday’s delay, officially, to “health and safety issues.”
Regarding Bolgareva’s reported positive, the IIHF referred USA TODAY Sports to the International Olympic Committee, which still has not commented on Monday’s events.
Canada forward Emily Clark, who was infected with the virus in December and whose results came back inconclusive on Monday, did not play against Russia. She played 19:39 against the US in the Canadians’ 4-2 win Tuesday.
What’s with all those stuffed pandas at the medal ceremonies?
If you’ve been keeping up with the Winter Olympics in Beijing, you might have noticed Olympians from countries around the world posing with a plush toy panda after they compete.
But why are some of the winning athletes posing with the toy after their events instead of immediately receiving their medals?
After some of the competitions, the champions receive the panda mascot of the games, Bing Dwen Dwen, and are given their medals later at a special ceremony.
The Bing Dwen Dwen toys come stuffed inside a plastic shell that represents ice and is decorated with a gold wreath. Bing means “ice” in Mandarin Chinese, though it also symbolizes purity and strength. Dwen Dwen means robust and lively and it also represents children.
— Marina Pitofsky
Women ski jumpers disqualified for baggy uniforms
Five female competitors were disqualified from the mixed team ski jump final in the Beijing Winter Olympics over uniform violations.
Their jumpsuits were allegedly deemed too large, which could give a skier a leg up during the event, according to multiple reports.
Katharina Althaus of Germany told reporters after she was disqualified, “We were looking forward to the second competition at the Olympics. [The International Ski Federation] destroyed that with this action – they destroyed women’s ski jumping.
“Our names are now (out) there and we just pulled the crap card. That is how you destroy nations, development and the entire sport,” she added, Reuters reported.
This year marked the first time the mixed team ski jumping event was included at a Winter Olympics. All of the competitors who were disqualified are women.
— Marina Pitofsky
Nathan Chen in great position to win skating gold
BEIJING – Nathan Chen’s four-year quest now has less than 48 hours to go.
With a massive fist pump following some of the most beautiful jumps ever landed under the unforgiving spotlight of the Olympic Games, Chen exorcized the demons from Olympic short programs past to skate a world-record-breaking men’s short and put himself in position to win the gold medal in Thursday’s long program.
Chen, 22, received more points from the judges than any man ever has – 113.97 – for his soaring quadruple jumps and exquisite artistry to “La Boheme” to take an almost six-point lead over his closest challenger, Japanese 18-year-old Yuma Kagiyama.
NOTE: USA Network replays Chen and the other top skaters’ short programs starting at 6:30 pm ET.