American-born skier Eileen Gu made history Tuesday at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with a gold medal win for China in the debut of the women’s freestyle big air competition.
The 18-year-old Gu landed a 1620 — four-and-a-half full spins in midair — on her final jump of the competition, earning a 94.50 score in big air. It was the first time the event has been staged at the Winter Olympics, which requires athletes to throw their biggest tricks off a single, large jump.
Gu has become a sensation in China, her mother’s homeland, drawing millions of followers on China’s social media website Weibo.
Among those in attendance for her performance was Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, a day after denying she had accused a former Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her in a post on Weibo last November.
Taking home the silver medal is France’s Tess Ledeux, who finished with an overall score of 187.50, compared to Gu’s 188.25. Ledeux was overcome with emotion after her final jump when she realized she would not win gold, prompting Gu and Switzerland's Mathilde Gremaud to rush to her side to comfort her. Gremaud took home the silver with a final score of 182.50.
Italy won its first curling medal when Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner edged Norway's Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten 8-5 to win the mixed doubles gold. Skaslien and Nedregotten, a married couple, won the silver medal and improved on their 2018 third-place finish in Pyeongchang, which they earned after Russian opponent Alexander Krushelnitsky tested positive for a banned substance.
Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the men’s 1,500 meters, the first speedskater to defend his Olympic title since 1994. Nuis edged teammate Thomas Krol, who broke the 20-year-old Olympic record in his 3 3/4 laps around the “Ice Ribbon” oval. In the very next pairing, Nuis crossed the line with an even faster time of 1 minute, 43.21 seconds. The bronze went to Kim Minseok of South Korea.
Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo defended his Olympic cross-country sprint title, leading the final for the entire race. Klaebo won the race in 2 minutes, 58.06 seconds. Italy’s Frederico Pellegrino captured the silver, while Russian skier Alexander Terenteva earned the bronze.
Jonna Sundling of Sweden won the women’s cross country sprint race in 3 minutes, 09.68 seconds, 2.88 seconds faster than teammate Maja Dahlqvist. Jessie Diggins of the U.S. won the bronze. Sundling is a first-time Olympian but has two world championship sprint titles, and team sprint titles along with Dahlqvist.
Austria’s Matthias Mayer won the gold medal in the men’s Super-G event with a time of 1 minute, 19.94 seconds, defending the gold medal he won at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. American Ryan Cochran-Siegle took home the silver medal with a time of 1 minute, 19.98 seconds, 50 years after his mother, Barbara Cochran, won gold in the women’s slalom in Sapporo, Japan. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway posted a time of 1 minute, 20.36 seconds to win the bronze medal.
Austria’s Benjamin Karl finally won his first Olympic gold medal after winning the men’s parallel giant slalom Tuesday, edging out Tim Mastnak of Slovenia who took the silver and bronze medalist Victor Wild of the Russian Olympic Committee. Karl finally won his first Olympic gold medal after winning silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games and the bronze medal in PyeongChang in 2018.
In women’s snowboarding, Ester Ledecka of Czechoslovakia successfully defended her title in the parallel giant slalom event she won four years ago in PyeongChang, with Austria’s Daniela Ulbing winning the silver medal and Gloria Kotnik taking home the bronze. Tuesday’s win marks the third Olympic gold medal for Ledecka, who also won the alpine skiing Super-G event in PyeongChang.
Men’s figure skating
American figure skater Nathan Chen appears to be on his way to winning his first Olympic gold medal after posting a world-record score of 113.97 in Tuesday’s men’s short program. Chen’s performance broke the previous record set by two-time Japanese gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, who finished in eighth place after an underwhelming performance.
Two Japanese skaters finished second and third behind Chen — Yuma Kagiyama, who scored 108.12 points in Tuesday’s short program to finish in second place, and Shoma Uno, who scored 105.90 points. Kagiyama and Uno will be Chen’s main competition in Thursday’s free skate program that will decide the gold, silver and bronze medalists.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press Reuters, Agence France-Presse.