Another stunning mistake has taken American skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin out of contention for a 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 women’s giant slalom on Monday, was one of the favorites in the slalom — an event where she claimed the gold eight years ago in Sochi. But she skied out after the fifth gate in her opening run and was eliminated.
Team USA did add its fifth silver medal of the games when freeskier Colby Stevenson soared onto the podium in the men’s big air competition.
Meanwhile, Shaun White and Chloe Kim advanced to the finals of the men’s and women’s halfpipe competitions. White, a three-time gold medalist in the event, is competing in his final Olympics.
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Lindsey Jacobellis among four Americans to advance to snowboard cross quarters
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — All four Americans have advanced to the women’s snowboard cross quarterfinals by placing in the top two of their respective heats (of four riders) on Tuesday.
That includes 2006 silver-medalist Lindsey Jacobellis, who is competing in her fifth Games. She won her heat by more than one second. Meghan Tierney entered the round in 16th and held onto the final spot in the quarterfinals by outlasting Lara Casanova of Switzerland despite the two bumping while coming around the second-to-last bend.
Stacy Gaskill also won her heat handily, and Faye Gulini’s victory made it a clean sweep for the U.S.
Sixteen riders remain in the competition.
— Chris Bumbaca
Shaun White leads trio of Americans who qualify for halfpipe final
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Shaun White will have one more competition in the halfpipe, only a few runs remaining between him and the end of a competitive snowboarding career.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist advanced to Friday’s final at the Beijing Olympics, qualifying fourth at Genting Snow Park.
Fellow Americans Taylor Gold and Chase Josey also qualified for the final, ranking seventh and 12th, respectively. Lucas Foster had a hard fall on his second run and finished in 17th. Only the top 12 advance to the final.
White, 35, is competing in his final Olympics and last snowboarding competition. It’s a fitting place to end for a rider whose three Olympic golds made him famous and elevated his sport.
— Rachel Axon
Olympic medals in team figure skating delayed by legal issue
BEIJING – An ongoing legal issue that could affect the medalists in the team figure skating competition at the Beijing Olympics has caused the award ceremony to be delayed, the IOC said Wednesday.
The ceremony to award the Russian team the gold medals, the United States silver and Japan bronze was pulled from its scheduled slot late Tuesday.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the reason was a “legal consultation” required with the governing body of skating. Details of the case were not specified.
“We have athletes that have won medals involved,” Adams said at the daily news briefing.
In a one-line statement, the International Skating Union also cited ongoing legal talks.
If any athlete and team were disqualified, an appeal would likely follow to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Canada placed fourth and would be in line to be upgraded.
Some skaters in the men’s competition are due to finish their events Thursday and leave China soon after.
“Everyone is doing absolutely everything that the situation can be resolved as soon as possible,” Adams said.
However, he cautioned “as you know, legal issues can sometimes drag on.”
— The Associated Press
Mikaela Shiffrin on Beijing disappointment: ‘It feels like everything, but it’s not’
BEIJING – Two races, 10 gates.
That’s the sum total of Mikaela Shiffrin’s performance so far at the Beijing Olympics, a Games where she was expected to contend for multiple medals. Two days after skiing out in the first run of the giant slalom, Shiffrin did the same in the first run of the slalom Wednesday.
Afterward, she sat in the snow for several minutes, crying and looking despondent. These were her two best events, races in which she has won gold medals, and she didn’t even get through the first run. It’s the first time she has failed to finish back-to-back technical races since December 2011, when she was 16 years old.
“We came all this way. We’re not done yet but GS and slalom, those were my biggest focuses, so it really feels like a lot of work for nothing,” Shiffrin said afterward, still appearing shell-shocked. “(People) will try to say, `This happens’ and `It’s OK’ and `Don’t be too hard on yourself’ and all of that, but it is a lot of work for a grand total of five gates in the GS and five gates in the slalom. So that is not lost on me.
“It feels like everything,” she added, “but it’s not.”
There are still three races left: the super-G, the Alpine combined and the downhill. While Shiffrin didn’t rule out competing in all three, she didn’t rule it in, either, saying the U.S. team has others who are just as capable.
— Nancy Armour
Freeskier Colby Stevenson adds another silver to USA’s collection
BEIJING – American Colby Stevenson took home the silver medal in the big air men’s freeskiing final, putting down two monster runs after crashing on his first attempt.
Stevenson’s impressive switch left 1800 on his last run – five full rotations in the air – launched him onto the podium but he had to survive seven skiers with an opportunity to pass him. In the end, none of them did, including teammate Alexander Hall.
Stevenson, 24, nearly died in a car crash six years ago that left him with a fractured skull and multiple other injuries.
— Dan Wolken
Stunned Mikaela Shiffrin still ‘processing’ after slalom exit
Mikaela Shiffrin said she’s “second guessing the last 15 years” of her skiing career after falling in women’s slalom, the second consecutive race she did not finish at the Beijing Olympics.
During an emotional interview with NBC following the race on Wednesday, the two-time Olympic champion said she’s questioning “everything I thought I knew about my own skiing and slalom and racing mentality.”
Shiffrin said she’s still “processing” what happened on the mountain after she skied out after the fifth gate in the first run of the slalom Wednesday. The DNF comes two days after she skied out after the fifth gate in the first run of the giant slalom.
— Cydney Henderson
Chloe Kim eyes another gold in halfpipe
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Chloe Kim is in position to claim gold again.
The Olympic champion in Pyeongchang four years ago, Kim easily advanced in qualifying on Wednesday at Genting Snow Park. That gives her the opportunity to become the first woman to win two gold medals when she competes in the final on Thursday.
Kim moved on to the final with a mellow, for her, first run that included two 720s and a 900. She’ll be expected to do tricks with 1080 degrees of rotation, and possibly higher, in the final.
“I was really nervous my first run because we’re at the Olympics, but I’m so happy I put one down,” Kim told NBC after qualifying. She did not take questions from print media after the competition.
— Rachel Axon
Triple corks could make – or break – halfpipe hopefuls
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Perhaps it was Shaun White toying with the triple cork in the halfpipe that made this day inevitable.
Maybe it was the march of progression as snowboarders attempted and mastered difficult double corks. Perhaps it was having the right riders to push it there.
Whatever the causes, the triple cork in the halfpipe is here – and it’s very likely to play a role in the Olympic final. (Qualifying begins Wednesday in Beijing, late Tuesday in the U.S.)
The trick requires three off-axis flips with varying degrees of rotation.
“If you’re a strategist, you’re going save that in your arsenal and use it if you need to,” said NBC snowboarding analyst Todd Richards. “That trick could take you out for the day.”
— Rachel Axon
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 fifth 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 shortly afterward.
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.
— Nancy Armour
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 Armour 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 alread 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 U.S. on Saturday, a 5-0 U.S. 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 U.S. in the Canadians’ 4-2 win Tuesday.
— Chris Bumbaca
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 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 p.m. ET.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism