Thursday, February 2

Winter Paralympics: USA men win ice hockey on final day of Beijing Games | Winter Paralympics 2022


The United States men’s team continued their dominance of para ice hockey on the final day of the 2022 Winter Paralympics with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Canada. It was a repeat of the 2018 final, which was a much closer affair decided in overtime, and marks the fourth consecutive time that the US have struck gold in the event. Just over 1,000 people watched the match at the Beijing National Indoor Stadium, seeing Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal score two goals each with Josh Paulsgetting one.

There was also a US gold in the cross-country relay. A stunning final leg by Jake Adicoff saw the American team move up from fourth to first place, with China taking silver and Canada securing bronze. It means that Ukrainian-born US athlete Oksana Masters finishes the Games with seven medals, having ended up on the podium in every event in which she competed. Ukraine had gone into the race as favourites, but could only finish fourth.

There was another gold for Ukraine, though, at the National Biathlon Center in Zhangjiakou, a record 11th for them. Anatoliy Kovalevskyi anchored the 4×2.5km cross-country relay team, finishing just over 25 seconds ahead of the team from France, with Norway taking the bronze.

The Ukraine relay team with their country’s 11th victory of these Games. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Veteran Brian McKeever, in his last race at a Winter Paralympics, missed the chance to become the most successful male Winter Paralympian of all time as Canada could only finish 6th, and he finishes his career with 16 gold medals.

On the slopes of the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre, Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli successfully defending his 2018 men’s vision impaired slalom title, preventing Austrian teen sensation Johannes Aigner claiming a third gold by just 0.28 seconds.

In the men’s standing slalom, France’s Arthur Bauchet added a third gold of Games, with China’s Liang Jingyi 2.66 seconds behind him. Defending champion Adam Hall of New Zealand finished third in what he described as “challenging conditions”.

Afterwards Hall said “the snow conditions have changed quite a lot over the last couple of days. But we’re trained in every condition and every scenario possible so it was just a matter of getting down the best that I could.”

The event had been moved around the schedule due to the warm weather conditions, and Hall said “You do get sick of waiting a little bit, you just want it to be over and done, which can kind of play with the nerves. I’m just happy to get up here and get the business done.”

Adam Hall of New Zealand in action during his first run on Sunday morning.
Adam Hall of New Zealand in action during his first run on Sunday morning. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters

The final gold of the Games went to Norway’s Jesper Pedersen; the Alpine skiing course became increasingly difficult, leading to his expected main rival, Jeroen Kampschreur of the Netherlands, crashing out. With a number of athletes experiencing difficulty, Niels de Langen of the Netherlands moved up from fifth to take silver on the second run, and Italy’s Rene De Silvestro won bronze.

Perhaps the most popular medal of the last couple of days has been awarded to Riley, the guide dog of Austria’s Carina Edlinger. The dog has become a star away from the sport with his appearances in the Paralympic village and on the podium. The 23-year-old Edlinger, who has between 1.5 and 2 per cent vision, said she would not have been able to compete in Beijing without Riley accompanying her.

Presenting the medal to him, Edlinger joked “He’s not really aware of what’s going on, but I think he’ll kind of realize the moment later – just like every medallist.” Riley has also been given a stuffed toy of Paralympics mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon, although most dog owners will suspect that gift will have a limited shelf-life.

China have topped the medal table at the last five consecutive summer Paralympics, but with the sport concluded, the hosts have now finished top for the first time at a Winter Paralympics. They finished with 61 medals in total, including 18 golds. Ukraine’s recorded their highest-ever medal-total of 29, and their 11 golds place them second in the final standings. Canada were third, France fourth and the US fifth. Great Britain finished with one gold, one silver and four bronze.

The last action of the day in Beijing will be the closing ceremony at the Bird’s Nest stadium, when the Paralympics flag will be formally handed over to the next hosts – the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. The closing ceremony starts at 8pm in Beijing, which is noon UK time.


www.theguardian.com

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