This article titled “Winter Olympics day one: curling, ice hockey, freestyle skiing and more – live!” was written by Martin Belam (now), Niall McVeigh and Jonathan Horn (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 5th February 2022 14.06 UTC
China win their first gold medal of Beijing 2022 in the short track skating mixed team relay
It is confirmed! A first gold for China. Italy took silver, with Hungary in bronze. It was a huge mess of thrills and spills. In the end China were judged to have won it by 0.016 seconds!
The mixed team relay in the speedskating just happened, and as I had hoped, it was absolutely delightful chaos. There were people falling all over the place, but I believe China have just won their first gold medal. But we have to wait for the official result, it was very, very close, and is under review.
If you are feeling anxious about where that leaves Team GB in terms of reaching the curling semi-finals, their next match is an eminently winnable tie against hosts China. That is at a somewhat unsociable 1.05am UK time tonight. Get your Ovaltine ready. After that, there next game would appear to be a very crucial one against a Norway pairing who will still harbour hopes they can sneak into the semi-finals. I’ll be covering that tomorrow on the live blog from noon UK time.
Italy beat Team GB in the curling to remain unbeaten
It has ended up a 7-5 victory for Italy in the curling mixed doubles against the British pair leaving the Italians unbeated and six for six at the top of the table. There are final results in the other two preliminary matches that were still going on too. Norway beat China 9-6, and after being closely tied for half of the match, eventually Canada got the better of the US 7-2.
Where does that leave the round robin standings, I hear you ask. Good question. I make the top six this. Remember the top four pairings progress to the semi-final stage.
🇮🇹 Italy Won 6 – Lost 0
🇸🇪 Sweden 5 – 1
🇨🇦 Canada 4 – 2
🇬🇧 Great Britain 4 – 2
🇳🇴 Norway 3 – 3
🇺🇸 US 3 – 3
The first period has ended in the ice hockey, and the US still lead the Russian athletes by 1-0, courtesy of that goal from Savannah Harmon.
I must say one of the things I do enjoy about both the Summer and Winter Games is the brilliant photography that comes out of them. Paul Bellsham over on our picture desk has been running his eye over the best images coming out of Beijing today, and has put together this gallery for your enjoyment.
The seventh end has just finished between Italy and GB in the curling with a judge taking approximately 1,057 minutes trying to measure which was the closest of two stones. It is a tense match but the fiasco seemed to spark a little bit of laughter between the two teams. The end result is that they will go into the final end with Italy holding a potentially decisive 7-4 lead. It is going to be a tough ask for Jen Dodds and Bruce Mouat to haul that back.
The trial in Greece of activists who protested against Beijing holding the Winter Olympics has been postponed amid accusations that proceedings were delayed to avoid embarrassing China on the eve of the Games.
The highly anticipated hearing had been due to take place on Thursday in the town of Pyrgos, with human rights lawyers travelling from the UK and Athens to attend. The activists, who included a Briton, an American and a Tibetan-Canadian, were arrested when they briefly disrupted the Olympic flame lighting ceremony in October.
“Our pleas to the court for the case to be heard fell on deaf ears,” said Michael Polak at the legal aid group Justice Abroad, who had flown in from London on behalf of the defendants. “They pushed it into the long grass so as not to have to deliver a decision before the Beijing Olympics.”
Prior to rescheduling the trial for 1 December 2022, the three-member court’s presiding judge, Vassiliki Reppa, had instead focused on cases concerning boundary infringements and other minor disputes.
“We made an express plea to bring the case forward, as it was towards the end of the listed hearings, but the bench strongly refused to do so,” said Antonio Bachouros, a local lawyer also defending the activists. “They could have prioritised the case, given its sensitivity and the seriousness of the accusations, but chose not to.”
Two very quick updates: Switzerland have thrashed the Czech Republic in a “Stop! Stop! He’s already dead!” fashion 11-3 in the curling, and the US have just opened the scoring against the Russians in the ice hockey. It is 1-0 there with seven minutes left in the first period. Savannah Harmon got the goal.
That Italy-GB match in the curling is very delicately poised at 4-4 as they are going into the 7th and (possibly) penultimate end.
The women’s ice hockey match between the US and the Russian Olympic Committee match has got underway. It is currently still 0-0 but the US have a power-play. Now, personal opinion, I can’t really get engaged with these Group A matches knowing that all five teams are guaranteed a quarter-final spot. These just seem like glorified friendlies.
Surely it would have been better to have two groups of five and the top four from each group qualify? You’d still guarantee that all the big names would be going through, but there would be a massive incentive for the weaker teams in the group to beat each other and minimise how many they conceded?
Having said that, given how bad I am at standing upright on ice skates, and how bad I am at trying to hit fast moving objects with a stick, let alone do both at the same time, maybe I should just keep my ice hockey thoughts to myself.
This was one of the less savoury elements of the Opening Ceremony last night. A Dutch reporter in the middle of a live broadcast was dragged away by a Chinese security official. Footage from Dutch public broadcaster NOS showed several security officials surround Sjoerd den Daas before one of them forcefully grabbed him as he stood not far away from the Bird’s Nest stadium in the Chinese capital. “Unfortunately, this is increasingly the daily reality for journalists in China,” the Dutch outlet later tweeted, adding that Den Daas “is fine and could fortunately finish his story a few minutes later”.
Germany’s Johannes Ludwig was leading the luge after the first run in the men’s singles. He is now leading the luge after his second run. There’s still about another 25 men yet to hurtle down the ice.
You want to know the latest scores in the curling, right? Italy are edging out Great Britain 3-2, the US and Canada still can’t be separated at 2-2, and Norway are beating China 4-1. Switzerland, meanwhile, are absolutely grinding the Czech Republic into the ice and I feel like I need to break out the old vidiprinter stylings. They lead 9 (NINE) – 0. The matches are about halfway through now.
Gold for Walter Wallberg of Sweden in the men’s freestyle skiing moguls
A dominant final run from pre-tournament favourite Mikael Kingsbury of Canada looked to have secured him his second consecutive Olympic gold medal, but Walter Wallberg of Sweden had qualified first and made the last run of the final, and did enough to pip him to the post. Ikuma Horishima of Japan took bronze. It was Wallberg’s second Olympics.
The other final positions were Benjamin Cavet (France) in fourth, with Nick Page of the US finishing fifth, and Australia’s Cooper Woods in sixth.
Roman Repilov of the Russian Olympic Committee has just got the second run of the men’s single luge underway. He was around half-a-second behind the leader and finished in eighth place. He seemed to make a couple of mistakes early in the track and has finished a second behind the fastest time from the first run.
Some quotes here via Reuters from Johannes Thingnes Boe, who anchored that final leg for Norway in the mixed Biathlon relay earlier. Boe has been isolated from his team as a suspected close contact of a positive Covid case, but the time spent alone doesn’t seem to have dampened his apparent enthusiasm for himself. He told reporters in the mixed zone:
I knew it was going to end up this way, and I have been prepared for this. Since I came here on Monday I’ve seen what to do and my preparation for the last week, I already did it in my head a hundred times. I maintained my third place after the last shooting and I gained nine seconds quite fast, and I would have killed myself if I went in front in that wind. My feeling is that to anchor Norway to gold, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Gold for Urša Bogataj of Slovenia in the women’s normal hill ski jumping
Urša Bogataj has claimed Slovenia’s first medal of the Games with victory on the women’s normal hill ski jumping. Silver has gone to Germany’s Katharina Althaus, with bronze being taken by Slovenia’s Nika Križnar.
The men’s moguls second run has just finished. That has whittled the field down to the six people who will ski again for the medals later on. Sweden’s Walter Wallberg, Japan’s Ikuma Horishima, France’s Benjamin Cavet, Australia’s Cooper Woods and Nick Page of the US will join the favourite Mikael Kingsbury of Canada in the final six. Japan’s Kousuke Sugimoto promising second run was scuppered by him breaking a pole on the way down. What a time for an equipment failure. Australia’s Brodie Summers finished tenth of the twelve.
After two ends in the curling, Jen Dodds and Bruce Mouat of Team GB have pulled it back to 1-1 against Italy’s Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner. Elsewhere the US and Canada are tied at 1-1, Norway are 2-1 ahead of hosts China, and the Swiss pair are giving the Czech Republic a 4-0 drubbing at the moment.
Any hope of the controversies that have dogged the Beijing Winter Games fading into a feelgood blur of medals once the torch was lit was quickly swept aside on Saturday as the first gold of these Olympics went to a convicted doper.
Therese Johaug, the decorated Norwegian cross-country skier who was barred from competing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics while serving an 18-month suspension for a positive drugs test she blamed on tainted lip balm, obliterated the field to win the 7.5km+7.5km skiathlon on a windblown afternoon in the tiny village of Taizicheng in the mountains roughly 120km northwest of Beijing.
The Norwegian was forced out of the 2018 Olympics due a lengthy suspension after testing positive for the anabolic steroid clostebol, which she claimed was the result of a lip ointment purchased by team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen on short notice to treat sunburn during high-altitude training in Italy.
Her explanation was deemed implausible by skiing’s international governing body – not least because the cream in question included a doping warning label on the box – which appealed the 13-month suspension initially handed down by Norwegian anti-doping authorities. The court of arbitration for sport subsequently tacked on five months to the punishment, acknowledging Johaug’s “otherwise clean anti-doping record” but citing her negligence in missing a clear warning label and ruling one of the sport’s biggest stars out of Pyeongchang.
Irma Makhinia of the Russian Olympic Committee has just gone into the lead in the women’s normal hill ski jump.
It is all go at the moment. The delayed final run in the women’s normal hill ski jumping is underway. The men are just about to start the moguls in the freestyle sking – Australia’s Brodie Summers has just started. And Italy have just gone 1-0 up against Team GB after the first end of their curling showdown.
In the Luge, Team GB’s Rupert Staudinger has just had his run. He finished in 21st place, 1.668 sec off the pace. On his helmet he was bearing the message “RIP AJ” as a tribute to his friend, the former British luger AJ Rosen. He died from cancer in December.
The Georgian Saba Kumaritashvili has also made his first run, ending up 3.148 behind leader Johannes Ludwig. He is competing at Beijing in the event which cost his cousin, Nodar, his life at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Bryan Armen Graham wrote this great piece about him the other day.
Hi, Martin Belam here, the last leg of our live blog relay team today. I’ve been watching from London since the early hours, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far today. In particular the ending of that biathlon relay was something to behold. There should be three more gold medals before the day is out. Here’s the daily briefing I wrote earlier.
The men’s moguls final is under way, and the top 30 are preparing for their second runs in the women’s normal hill ski jumping. Coming up: curling aplenty, with Great Britain v Italy and USA v Canada, short-track finals and USA v Not Russia in the women’s ice hockey.
With that, time to hand you over to Martin Belam for the rest of the day one action.
The luge continues at speed – I’ve just been watching Alexander Ferlazzo flying down the ice. He hails from Townsville, Queensland – not exactly a winter sports hotspot. He’s in 17th place; Germany’s Johannes Ludwig is the current leader on a first run that’s seen plenty of skids and spills.
Martin Belam will be taking over this blog shortly, having already posted his peerless daily briefing – and it’s not even lunchtime.
Ski jumping: Katharina Althaus, silver medallist in Pyeongchang, is last to go – and takes the lead with a 121.1 score. The German’s jump was 3m shorter than Bogataj, but she got extra style points to lead after the first run. Bogataj is second, her Slovenian compatriot Nika Kriznar is third. The top 30 all progress to the final run, which will begin shortly.
Bad news for Niall Treacy, who tries to find a way past the leading pair – South Korea’s Park Jang-hyuk and USA’s Andrew Heo – but loses his footing just before the final turn. His brother Farrell doesn’t fare any better, struggling to get in position to challenge the leaders and coming home in fourth.
Sara Takanashi took the lead with a fine 108.7 effort in the ski jumping, but has been overtaken by three Slovenians, with Ursa Bogataj the new leader with a 118.0 score.
In short-track speed skating, there was bitter disappointment for Team GB’s Kathryn Thompson in the 500m heats as she crashed out early. Next up, it’s the men’s 1,000m heats with Niall Treacy among the first skaters up. His brother, Farrell, goes in heat two.
Speaking of terrifying sports, it’s time for the luge, where competitors fly down an ice-lined chute on a tiny sled, hitting speeds of 80mph plus. As my dad would always ask: how do you find out you’re good at it?
Anyway, the first run of the men’s competition is under way. There’ll be four runs in total, with the winner crowned on Sunday.
Back to the ski jumping, arguably the most terrifying of all sports. Sweden’s Frida Westman delays her plunge down the hill as her goggles have steamed up. For a minute she looks like going Full Corrigan, but resets and posts an 80.9m jump.
She’s in fifth place, with ROC’s Irina Avvakumova the current leader, but the big players – including Germany’s Katharina Althaus and Japan’s Sara Takanashi – are still to take their first run.
“Any idea why the Dutch are so smashing at the old speed skating?” asks Andrew Norton. “Seems a bit odd really.”
It’s an interesting question, and one without a single answer – although tradition, facilities and private investment all play a part. Andy Bull’s read from 2018 is worth your time:
More on Shaun White’s announcement that he will retire after the Beijing Games:
A brief interlude …
The main event going on right now is in ski jumping – the women’s individual normal hill final. There are a fair few spectators watching on in the Zhangjiakou Zone, 140 miles northwest of Beijing.
The temperature at the popular ski resort is currently ranging between zero and -14 Celsius, with harsh winds making life tough for many competitors. “It sucks,” said US snowboarder Jamie Anderson.
“It’s hard to keep your core temperature warm, and then doing tricks feels a little bit more intimidating. You’re just, like, a little bit stiff. But we can do it.”
A couple of women’s ice hockey results from Pool B: Japan have beaten Denmark 6-2, and Czech Republic edged out Sweden 3-1. That group, which also includes the hosts, are playing for three quarter-final spots.
Over in Pool A, the top five teams in the world are jostling for the best seeding in the knockouts. Earlier, Canada routed Finland 11-1; later on, the USA face ROC, with Vladimir Putin reportedly due to attend.
Shaun White to retire after Olympics
Shaun White, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and one of snowboarding’s biggest names, has said he will retire from the sport after the Beijing Games.
“I think this will be my last competition too, which is pretty special,” the 35-year-old told a news conference. White had already revealed this Olympics, his fifth, would be his last.
White, who won halfpipe golds at the 2006, 2010 and 2018 Games, said knee and back issues had played a part and that his decision came during a quiet moment on a chairlift.
“I was watching … the sun go down and it just hit me,” he said. “It was very sad and a surreal moment but really joyous as well,” said White.
The men’s moguls qualifiers are in full swing – this is the knee-shaking event where riders barrel down an uneven slope, throwing in flips and tricks on ramps on their way down.
Canada’s Mikaël Kingsbury is the man to beat, having won gold in 2014 and 2018. He topped the first qualification run; we’re currently on the second, with 10 more places available. GB’s Will Feneley finished in 17th and misses out.
Norway won the game’s first gold a couple of hours ago, but Therese Johaug’s win is likely to spark controversy. The cross-country skier missed the 2018 Games due to an 18-month doping ban after testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid clostebol.
Johaug argued that she had unintentionally taken the steroid having used a lotion that had been approved by the team to treat sunburned lips. Her initial 13-month suspension was extended by Cas following an appeal from the International Ski Federation.
Take a look at this excellent gallery of pictures and posters from the very first Winter Olympics, held in Chamonix back in 1924:
Germany: isolation facilities ‘unacceptable’
The German multiple Olympic champion Eric Frenzel’s isolation room at the Beijing Winter Games is “unacceptable”, Germany’s team chief Dirk Schimmelpfennig said on Saturday, demanding immediate improvement.
Frenzel, a Nordic combined skier who has won three Olympic golds, tested positive for Covid-19 along with team mate Terence Weber. Both have been isolated since Friday.
The conditions do not meet the standards of the athlete and the team, Schimmelpfennig told reporters, with cleanliness, the quality of food and WiFi a problem.
Norway strike second gold
It’s another gold for Norway, as they win the mixed relay biathlon event! Despite picking up three penalty loops, they won with a dramatic surge to the line from Johannes Thingnes Boe. France earn silver, the ROC bronze.
Dutch Superstar Schouten Breaks Olympic Record, Takes Gold
Dutchwoman Irene Schouten is chasing four gold medals at these Games and claimed her first in the 3000 metres, beating a 20 year old Olympic record. She beat Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida, who went out hard but was overwhelmed in the final metres.
3000m Speed Skating – Women’s
Canada’s Isobel Weidemann has broken the four-minute mark to guarantee herself a medal. The two big guns are still to go however and they’re up now.
Biathlon – Mixed Relay
As we hand over to the men, the French narrowly lead the Italians, but the Americans have come from the clouds to be in medal contention. Norway has thrown this away with poor shooting. It’s meant an extra 500m of skiing penalties.
Biathlon – Mixed Relay
We’re onto the shooting range on leg 2 and the Norwegians were well ahead, but their competitor had a stinker with the rifle, earning a hefty penalty and handing the Italians the lead. Its rotten rifle conditions out there.
Just harking back to the Women’s Skiathlon, it would remiss of me not to mention that the winner recently served an 18-month doping ban. Johaug argued unsuccessfully that the she had taken the steroid to treat her sunburnt lips.
Biathlon – Mixed Relay
We’re off in the teams event. Yet another lung buster is on the cards here. It’s windy and freezing – rotten conditions for anyone on the shooting range. There’s 20 countries competing, but the gold medal is expected to be fought between the Norwegians and French.
“A lovely concept”
The IOC’s Mark Adams has described the decision to use Uyghur cross country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiag to light the Olympic flame as “a lovely concept”.
Human rights groups beg to differ, describing it as “the most politically motivated move.”
China continues to deny allegations of genocide and the establishment of forced labour camps in the Xinjiang region.
Women’s 3000m Speed Skating
The Dutch have a mortgage on this event. They swept the podium in 2018 and indeed have won 15 of the 26 gold medals in speed skating at the past two Games. The smart money today is on Irene Schouten, the reigning world champion. She’ll be on the ice shortly.
Gold to Norway’s Johaug
And it’s the first gold of the Olympics to Therese Johaug in the women’s Skiathlon. It was a total rout. She’s won three world titles but this is her first individual Olympic gold. Most competitors are collapsing across the line, giving you some indication of what a brutal event it is.
The commentator says this event is 50 per cent nutrition, 40 per cent athletic ability and ten per cent mind games. Some extraordinary weighting towards nutrition there! But there’s no doubt it would be a calorie burner. A shout out to Australia’s Jess Yeaton, who’s currently in 42nd spot. Everyone who competes in this deserves some sort of medal.
Norway’s Johaug is romping this in. Give her the medal now. Five athletes are battling it out for silver and bronze, but the leader is in another race.
We’re past halfway mark and into the freestyle section of the race. To the uninitiated (me), things have sped up considerably. Our leader is Therase Johaug of Norway. Not surprisingly, she’s also an outstanding runner, with a best time of 32 mins for the 10,000. She won a gold medal in a team’s event in 2010, but this would be her first individual gold.
USA v Russia
It’s not quite the Miracle on Ice, or even Rocky 4, but with the world on tenterhooks right now, the Russia-USA clash in the women’s ice hockey should have some added intrigue. The Russian President is expected to attend. His region’s on the brink, but he’s handy on the rink…
On the menu
This is the first of six gold medals up for grabs today, with the women’s 3000m speed skating and mixed biathlon kicking off shortly. The women’s ski jump and men’s freestyle moguls will also be decided.
Cross Country Skiathlon
We’ve already had some falls, steep climbs and I can only assume, a lot of lactic acid. This 15km event combines classical and freestyle skiing, with the competitors switching techniques at the halfway point. I’m already exhausted watching them.
Cross Country Skiathlon
It’s almost gun time in this gruelling, intriguing event. It’s minus 12 degrees Celsius, which doesn’t even bear thinking about for an Australian. “Perfect conditions for cross country skiing”, according to the commentators.
I think I have perforated eardrums from some of the exaltations – it’s a very vocal sport, and they certainly mic them up. Italy just blew the Aussies away with a three-point end, and now lead 7-3. Meanwhile, Great Britain have romped away to an 8-3 win over the Czechs – a cakewalk.
Cross Country Skiing – Women’s
We’re just 15 away from the start of the women’s cross country. The Swedes Frida Karlsson Charlotte Kalla are the hot pops, along with Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva and Norway’s Therese Johaug. These are some of the best endurance athletes in the world, and the sheer state of the competitors at the finish gives some indication as to what a lung buster it is.
Australia trail Italy 2-4 while Great Britain are well in control of the Czech Republic, up 6-2.
A right royal shoeing in the women’s ice hockey match between Canada and Finland, with Canada walloping them 11-1. Sarah Nurse and Brianne Jenner both scored hat-tricks for the winners.
Meanwhile, the Great Britain mixed doubles team are making easy work of the Czech Republic, while the United States are in a tight tussle with China.
The Aussies are down 1-3 against the unbeaten Italians and nearly square things up but over-curled, jammed things up, and split the points – leaving things delicately poised at 2-3. I think I vaguely got the lingo right there.
Aussie Jakara Anthony Goes Top
The Victorian unleashes a scintillating run to go top in qualifying for the Women’s Moguls. She even pipped the peerless Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont, a former gold medallist. Commentary, rather curiously, is being provided by former cricketer Dirk Nannes.
I already feel like I’ve ruptured about 6 ACLs watching this. It’s a brutal caper and the conditions look nasty. America’s Olivia Giaccio shot on to the early lead but 17-year-old Kumi Yamamiku just rocketed into first place with a blazing run. “Great absorption,” said the commentator, and The Guardian concurs wholeheartedly. Aussie Britteny Cox is currently fifth.
Things haven’t gone the way of Australia’s curlers thus far. It not exactly a sport the occupies centre stage in the public consciousness, but it’s attracting its usual cohort of the curious and the bewildered. The Aussies were well beaten by the husband and wife pair of Norwegians, but they’ve gone down by a solitary point in four other games, so they’re not far off the mark. They take on the Italian pair shortly.
Kiwi Qualifies in top spot
Young New Zealander Zoi Sadaowski-Synnott was the standout in the women’s Slowslope Snowboard qualifiers, with a top score of 86.75. The course is designed with Great Wall motifs, but proved the blustery conditions wrought havoc. Reigning double gold medallist Jamie Anderson struggled by her lofty standards, qualifying fifth. “I felt really pissed after my last run,” she said.
The remarkable talents of Nathan Chen, the three time world champion and hottest of favourites in the men’s figure skating.
a shoutout from Richard Woods, an expat living in China…
“Thanks for the coverage. I’m strapped in. I was really hoping to get to a day or two of the games, as I live only a short train journey away from Beijing, but work and the Covid-inspired rules about inter-provincial travel have put paid to that. Lackaday. Ah well – bring on the tea-trays, yard brushes and Jamaican bobsleighers!”
Aussies in Action
For our Australian readers, there’s several other locals in action on my watch, including Seve De Campo in the Cross Country skiathon and Dean Hewitt and Tahli Gill in the Mixed Doubles Curling. Several hours ago, they met their match against the Norwegians, who were bronze medallists four years ago, but back up again against Italy shortly.
The Opening Ceremony is done. It’s cold. The Bird’s Nest has been lit up. Political tensions are high. An Uyghur cross country skier lit the cauldron. With over 100,000 of his troops marshalling on the Ukraine border, Vladimir Putin, not a man to be trifled with, is in town. Beijing has become the first city to host both a summer and winter Olympics. The slogan of the 2022 Games is “together for a shared future”. Incidentally, that’s also the slogan of this Guardian live blog. It’s being presented, at least for this first shift, from Melbourne, Australia, not a city renowned for its snow sports, but an Olympic city nonetheless. Today we have curling, snowboarding, speed skating, cross country skiing and biathlon, among others. Strap yourselves in for the next five hours, as I endeavour to demonstrate a modicum of knowledge about the various sports on offer.
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