The 2022 Winter Olympics officially began Friday with the opening ceremony at the famed “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing, the first city to ever host a Winter and Summer (2008) Games.
And now it’s time to really focus on the competitions.
Women’s slopestyle snowboarding qualifying, women’s hockey and men’s ski jumping qualifying highlight the action Friday night in the U.S. (on USA Network). And the first medals of the 2022 Olympics will be handed out on Saturday in Beijing, beginning with cross-country skiing.
Sixty-five women from 24 nations will compete in the skiathlon, beginning at 2:45 a.m. ET. The skiathlon is a 15-kilometer race, with 7.5 kilometers run in classic style cross-country skiing and the other half in freestyle.
Team USA will have four athletes in the race: 2018 gold medalist Jessie Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Hailey Swirbul and Julia Kern.
There will be five other medal events on Saturday: women’s 3000 meters (long track speed skating), men’s moguls (freestyle skiing), biathlon mixed relay, short track speed skating mixed relay and women’s normal hill individual ski jumping. There are 109 medal events at the 2022 Beijing Games.
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WINTER OLYMPICS 2022: Why Beijing? Who will be the stars? 10 questions you want answers to
How does scoring work in freeskiing and snowboarding?
In freeskiing and snowboarding, scores mean nothing – well, almost. Rather, the numbers are more of a proxy for athletes’ ranking and less tied to specific tricks in their run, for example, than their overall performance.
Judging for both sports is mostly done by a panel of six international judges, with the highest and lowest scores being dropped.
Unlike other sports, such as gymnastics, there are not component scores. A certain trick does not have a set value. Judges are scoring out of 100 based on overall impression and basically ranking from there.
Warrior mom inspires Olympian Jamie Anderson to fly high
Beijing Winter Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson says her warrior mom is the inspiration behind her gold medal challenge.
Humankind, USA Today
Execution is critical and can include several things, such as how cleanly athletes are landing tricks, how long they hold their grabs or how long they ride a rail. Difficulty can help an athlete stand out, especially by doing tricks that are harder than their competitors or that have never been done before.
Often runs including tricks with more flips or a higher degree of rotation will be scored higher. Judges will also consider progression, and variety matters too.
Freeskiing and snowboarding have been among the United States’ most successful sports in recent Olympics.
— Rachel Axon
ZHANGJIAKOU – Snowboarder Jamie Anderson went back and forth on whether or not to come to these Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The pandemic, the restrictions, the COVID testing – it just piled on the pressure of someone who already feels it as the USA’s two-time Olympic gold medalist in women’s slopestyle snowboarding.
“It’s definitely a more complicated Olympics. Going to the Olympics is very stressful and you have so much on your plate,” Anderson said at a news conference in the Olympic Village. “And this year it has been an absolute nightmare. Just everything from getting here, I think all of us in the last few months – I was really struggling with everything it took to get here.
But all it took was the very first day on the snow Wednesday for practice runs to reassure her that she made the right decision.
The slopestyle course is massive, and Anderson, 31, said it reminds her of her first Olympics in Sochi where everything was gigantic and intimidating.
“It’s pretty gnarly,” Anderson said. “What’s cool about the Olympics compared to any other event is it’s always on a completely new mountain and completely new setup.”
Anderson will make her first runs on the slopestyle course when women’s qualifying begins at 9:45 p.m. ET (USA Network).
— Lori Nickel
BEIJING – Neither a raging global pandemic nor worldwide concern over China’s awful human rights abuses could stop Beijing from throwing itself a party Friday night at its “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium.
Compared to the last time Beijing gave us an opening ceremony, 14 years ago for the Summer Olympics, it was a muted effort with far fewer spectators, athletes and diplomats. It also was about 70 degrees colder than that sweltering night in August 2008, when the air was so heavy with Beijing’s gritty smog that black residue could be scraped off the skin. This time, it was just bitter cold.
So, for the second Olympics in a row, Beijing organizers created a grand illusion. They sure know how to put on a light show on a stadium floor. If only they were as good at things like freedom of speech and avoiding genocide.
— Christine Brennan
The 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony aired lived in the United States early Friday morning, but NBC knows not everyone is an early bird. The network will re-broadcast the Beijing opening ceremony beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The ceremony opened with fireworks, a lights show and ended with ice hockey players breaking a block of ice to reveal the Olympic rings. Snowflakes with the names of participating countries were held high in front of the large Olympic Rings.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and IOC President Thomas Bach were in the stands alongside a smaller-than-usual crowd restricted due to COVID-19 regulations.
As is tradition, home country dignitaries and Games organizers will give speeches prior to The Delegations Parade. The first nation to enter the stadium will be Greece, followed by all other delegations in the IOC Protocol order, alphabetically by the language of the host country. Italy (as the next Winter Olympic Games host nation) and the host country China will enter last. The U.S. delegation is No. 56, after Bulgaria.
Make no mistake: Mikaela Shiffrin wants to win.
For Shiffrin, though, winning is the byproduct. Like the student who relishes the grind more than the grade, she is more interested in the things that go into making her one of the best ski racers of all time.
That that painstaking attention to the details – what others might consider drudgery — has resulted in Winter Olympic gold medals, world titles and international commercial appeal is just a bonus.
“The overarching thing that allows me to ski fast and be one of the best racers in the world and get all the titles and all of these things that feel really great and make you feel like you’re a hero and you’re on top of the world and all that, the thing that lets me do it is skiing well. And that’s the thing that I actually enjoy doing,” Shiffrin told USA TODAY.
Shiffrin will be making her Beijing Olympics debut on Monday, Feb. 7, in the women’s giant slalom, where she will seek to defend her 2018 gold medal.
— Nancy Armour
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – The U.S. freeski and snowboard teams will have a different look for the Beijing Olympics thanks to new uniform providers.
Since the 2018 Games, the teams have switched to Spyder and Volcom, respectively, from their longtime partners The North Face and Burton.
This year’s uniforms come with distinct looks for each, offering edgier patterns and multiple layering options that lean less into Americana themes than recent uniforms.
The freeskiing uniforms feature large white and blue color blocks with red accents. The uniforms include jackets, hoodies and reversible vests that allow the athletes to tailor their looks. Uniforms for both teams are created with tech fabrics designed to help athletes keep warm and perform in competition.
The snowboarding uniforms feature five different kits that allow for a layering and a variety of looks. They include a collage print that Volcom intends as a tribute “to the storied history of the legends who have made the Volcom brand what it is today,” and each includes a lucky faux rabbit foot for good luck.
— Rachel Axon
NBC is walking a tightrope at the Beijing Games. The network is covering sports on ice and snow — and news on human rights and genocide.
One of the athletes to light the flame at the opening ceremony is Uyghur, China’s Muslim ethnic minority who are victims of genocide, according to the United States; that is one of the reasons that the U.S. is boycotting these Games diplomatically.
Mike Tirico, NBC’s Olympics host, quickly noted the significance of the flame lighting during the live broadcast of the opening ceremony, which aired on Friday morning in the U.S., and which will repeat Friday evening. “Of course, those are the people from the region of Northwest China that have attracted so much attention in the conversation of human rights,” Tirico said, reporting from the scene.
– Erik Brady
Less than six months after the Summer Games in Tokyo ended, the Winter Games in Beijing open. Getting underway in full on Saturday, there’s a lot of questions surrounding these Olympics.
USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour broke down everything you need to know, from “why Beijing?” to all the must-watch Team USA stars:
Q: Are there new sports or events?
A: Yes! Seven of them. Monobob has been added for women’s bobsled, and there is men’s and women’s Big Air in freestyle skiing. There are four new mixed-team events, in snowboard cross, aerials, short-track speedskating and ski jumping.
The United States won the men’s short program and rhythm dance and are in first place after the day’s team competition. Nathan Chen hit a new personal record of 111.71 in the short program to pace the Americans. The Russian Olympic Committee sits in second place, and China is in third. The women’s short program is Sunday with the top five team advancing to the free skate competition after which medals will be awarded.