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Defending Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin will not repeat in the women’s giant slalom. Shiffrin’s first of five potential events in Beijing ended in disappointment Monday when she wiped out on her opening run.
(Looking for coverage from Sunday’s events? Here’s everything you need to know.)
Two American women each won silver medals in their respective competitions on Sunday: Julia Marino in women’s slopestyle snowboarding and Jaelin Kauf in women’s moguls. Elsewhere, the women’s hockey team dominated Switzerland and now will close group play against its fierce rival, Canada.
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WINTER OLYMPICS 2022: Answering 10 major questions for the Beijing Games
Mikaela Shiffrin’s first race ended almost as soon as it started.
After looking tentative through her first few gates in the first run of the giant slalom, the defending Olympic champion appeared to get too far over on her edges and fell over. After skiing off to the side, Shiffrin stood for several seconds, looking at the area where her hopes for gold ended.
Shiffrin has said she hopes to do all five individual events at the Beijing Olympics. Her next race will come Wednesday, in the slalom. She won gold there in 2018, making her the youngest champion in that event.
— Nancy Armour
BEIJING – Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai told a French newspaper that her long-planned dinner with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has already occurred.
In a story published Monday by L’Equipe, Peng said the two met for dinner Saturday. She also once again denied having accused anyone of sexual assault, after alleging in a social-media post in November that she had been assaulted by Zhang Gaoli, a former high-ranking Chinese government official.
Peng’s post was later scrubbed from Chinese social media, and she disappeared from public view for several weeks. She also disagreed with that characterization.
“I never disappeared, everyone could see me,” Peng told L’Equipe.
Activists have expressed concern that Peng’s movements and statements have been monitored or influenced by the Chinese government in the wake of her allegation.
IOC spokesperson Mark Adams confirmed that Bach and Peng had dinner Saturday night. When asked Sunday about the dinner, he said he had no update.
— Tom Schad
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Cupping, dry needling, ice, pressure and some kind of brush for her face — all day, every day, every hour, for the last several days. This was Kai Owens’ entire existence.
With a lot of persistence and medical treatment, the Chinese-born, American raised freeskier was able to compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics Sunday night, finishing in 10th place in the women’s moguls. Australia’s Jakara Anthony led the field with a gold medal performance of 83.09. American Jaelin Kauf won the silver with a score of 80.28, and Anastasiia Smirnova of Russia took bronze.
Her ability to get to this night came down to the wire. Owens, 17, missed the opening qualifying round several days earlier, last Tuesday night, when her eye was swollen shut from a crash during a practice run on the same day. Owens, who also had a concussion earlier in the season, was held out by coaches.
“The first day I couldn’t even move my arm,” said Owens. “I was in a sling because of my rotator cuff. And then I couldn’t see out of my eye.”
By Sunday night, her eye was still visibly injured, but remarkably healed given how bad it was a few days earlier.
“I’m just so thankful to be here,” said Owens. “I owe a huge ‘thanks’ to our Team USA staff, U.S. ski and snowboard staff. They helped get me out here tonight.”
— Lori Nickel
For Mikaela Shiffrin, Olympic medals are not more important than values
After her father’s sudden passing, Mikaela Shiffrin has learned how to refocus through healing. The Beijing Olympics will be Shiffrin’s third Games.
Hank Farr, USA TODAY
BEIJING — In what could be the first of five races at the Beijing Olympics, and perhaps as many medals, Mikaela Shiffrin competes Monday in the giant slalom. She is the reigning Olympic champion in GS and is currently third in the World Cup standings, with two wins and a second-place finish in five races this season.
The GS will be followed Wednesday by the slalom, where she became the youngest Olympic champion in the event in 2014. Shiffrin also has a silver, from the Alpine combined in Pyeongchang.
Shiffrin won the season-opening GS race in October in Soelden, Austria. But she didn’t race GS again until December – she won one race and finished second in the other – and her training time throughout the season has been limited.
In fact, she said Friday that she has spent more time training GS since coming to Beijing than she has the rest of the season.
“That’s not ideal,” she said.
Despite that, Shiffrin said she feels she’s in a “pretty good place,” both in GS and overall.
“There’s a lot of potential there,” she said. “What are the odds on a day where all the variables are controlled? My odds aren’t bad. I’m just going to have to see where the chips fall.”
— Nancy Armour
BEIJING – Everywhere you turn at these Olympic Games, friendly staff members and volunteers are impeccably dressed in uniforms depicting white snow peaks and blue Chinese skies. As the competitions get underway in full force, we will see hundreds of technical officials wearing similarly attractive grey and white gear with red accents on their sleeves.
But it’s the logo over the right breast that your eyes should be drawn to.
The nondescript symbol, which looks vaguely like the silhouette of an impala’s head or perhaps a pickaxe, represents Anta Sports, a Chinese sporting goods giant that endorses several NBA players, including Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward. It is also the parent company of a subsidiary that owns legacy American brands like Wilson and Louisville Slugger. The founder of Lululemon, Canadian billionaire Chip Wilson, is heavily invested in the company.
In China, the world’s second-largest economy, Anta is a very big deal. It’s also at the center of arguably the biggest political controversy surrounding these Olympics involving alleged genocide and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China.
— Dan Wolken
Ocala, Florida, is a town of about 60,000 people located between Gainesville and Orlando. Palm trees dot downtown. Temperatures last week touched 80 degrees.
It’s not the kind of place you’d expect to produce Winter Olympians.
But in a strange twist – and with the almost inadvertent help of a Florida grandmother – that is exactly what’s happened.
Three of the top U.S. speedskaters at the 2022 Winter Olympics – Brittany Bowe, Erin Jackson and Joey Mantia – all hail from Ocala, which does not even have a year-round ice rink. All three are legitimate medal contenders. And all three started out as inline skaters on a team that is now called Ocala Speed, coached by the same woman, Renee Hildebrand.
— Tom Schad
BEIJING – After Day 1 of the Olympic figure skating team competition, U.S. athletes talked about skating with intensity and building momentum for an improbable gold-medal run against the Russians.
On Day 2, the conversation turned, sharply. Thoughts of momentum were replaced by concerns about “picking each other up.” High-fives and fist bumps were gone. Hugs and kind words showed up in their place.
That’s because, given the chance to rise to the occasion, both Karen Chen and Vincent Zhou turned in flat, lackluster performances, leaving the United States likely settling for the team silver medal and wondering what might have been had Chen and Zhou been able to skate cleanly – or how things would have been different had U.S. Figure Skating officials chosen other skaters in their place.
— Christine Brennan