A Final (Not So) Little Roundup of Highlights From These Winter Olympics
As one noted veteran Olympic marketer notes, the heart of every Olympic Games comes from the athletes. I couldn't agree more! Let's take a look some of the headline accomplishments that we can celebrate from across the Beijing Winter Olympics.
At age 41, Johan Clarey became the oldest Alpine skier to medal at an Olympics, with a silver in the downhill, and after a steady late-career improvement.
With his super-G win, Matthias Mayer became the first man to win an Alpine skiing gold in three consecutive Olympics...and he's now in a four-way tie for most Alpine skiing medals by an Austrian, and ties Toni Sailer with three gold.
In that same race, Ryan Cochran-Siegle's silver medal follows his mother's own Olympic medal (gold), 50 years earlier in Sapporo 1972's slalom. Later, Johannes Strolz's gold in the Alpine combined follows his father's same gold in Calgary 1988.
In the women's super-G, Lara Gut-Behrami became the first-ever Swiss skier to win the Winter event, and the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold.
The men's giant slalom saw the participation of Haitian Richardson Viano and Saudi Arabian Fayik Abdi, both the first representatives of their nations at any Winter Olympics, in any sport. And, Joan Verdu Sanchez's ninth-place finish is the best Winter Games result for Andorra (and ties the best at any Games).
Corinne Suter's downhill gold meant that four separate skiers from one nation (Switzerland) won an Olympic title in one Games for the first time.
Barnabas Szollos was the only skier to compete (and finish!) in all five individual Alpine events. And, he matched Israel's highest-ever Winter Olympic finish with sixth in the Alpine combined.
In the women's individual 15-kilometer event, Deedra Irwin scored the highest-ever finish in an individual competition by a Team USA athlete with seventh place.
Quentin Fillon Maillet became the first biathlete to win five medals in one Games.
After winning a relay team silver four years ago, brothers Johannes Thingnes and Tarjei Boe shared a podium for the first time with gold and bronze, respectively, in the 10km sprint event.
In that mass start, Tiril Eckhoff became the first woman to make three straight podiums in that event.
In the men's mass start, winner Johannes Thingnes Boe would join Roeiseland and Fillot Maillet as five-time medalists in just one Winter Games. It's an exclusive club of 14 athletes.
In the inaugural monobob competition, Kaillie Humphries became the first woman to win three bobsled Olympic gold medals, while silver-medalist Elana Meyers Taylor joins her as overall four-time medalists. p.s. that margin of victory in the monobob was the largest in a bobsled event in 42 years. And...with that race, Meyers Taylor became the oldest-ever U.S. female Winter Olympic medalist.
Germany's sweep of the podium in the two-man event was the first by any nation. That result also gave them a historic seven sliding golds in one Games, and a record 12 sliding medals overall. In that same two-man race, Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain gave Monaco its best Olympic finish ever, with sixth.
Meyers Taylor's brakewoman, Sylvia Hoffman becomes the first medalist of the "The Next Olympic Hopeful" reality TV search for Team USA stars.
The gold medalist of the two-woman event, Laura Nolte is the youngest bobsled gold medal winner since 1932, at age 23.
Pilot Francesco Friedrich became the first to win a double-double: gold in both the two-man and four-man, in consecutive Olympics (Pyeonchang 2018 and now Beijing 2022).
After famously leading Team USA to its first-ever medal four years ago, Jessie Diggins won Team USA's first medal in an individual cross-country event with a bronze in the individual sprint. And, then her silver in the 30km meant she's the first non-European to medal in the event, and the only two-time medalist in the sport for the U.S. She also finishes Beijing 2022 as the only woman to finish in the top eight of each of the six events.
Thomas Maloney Westgaard's 14th place finish in the sprint classic represented Ireland's best-ever finish in the sport.
Therese Johaug's 10km win wasn't just her second gold of Beijing 2022...it was Norway's 50th overall Olympic title in cross-country skiing - a record across any Winter Games sport. Johaug would add another gold in the 30k, for her third of the Games.
The United States placed all four of its women in the top 20 of the 30km event - the only nation to do so.
Stefania Constantini & Amos Mosaner won Italy's first Olympic curling medal after storming through the mixed doubles event undefeated.
Not only did Tahli Gill & Dean Hewitt debut Australia in Olympic curling, but the mixed doubles pair scored two wins to close out their competition and avoid a tournament shutout - after a heavy Covid-19 protocol scare.
That bronze by Sweden's women's team meant Sweden's women has now medalled in five straight Games - a record matched only by Canada, with similar streaks by both its men and women. Eve Muirhead's gold medal gave Great Britain - the birthplace of the sport - its first Olympic title in 20 years, and its second-ever.
Nathan Chen scored a best-ever men's short program total of 113.97.
Not only was Donovan Carillo the first Olympic skater for Mexico in 30 years, but the first to ever make a free skate portion.
At age 18, silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama is the youngest men's singles medalist since 1988 (and youngest in top two since 1960).
French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron set a new world record in a rhythm dance skate with a 90.83 score. And then they recorded the highest-ever combined score for gold.
In the team event, Sui Wenjing & Han Cong had set a pairs short program world record of 82.83. They then bettered that to 84.41 in the proper pairs competition itself, contributing to a record final total of 239.88.
In that pairs competition, Hailey Kops became the first Orthodox Jewish woman to compete in the Winter Games; finishing 15th with partner Evgeni Krasnopolski. And, Timothy LeDuc became the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Moguls-ist Jakara Anthony won Australia's first Winter Olympics gold since Vancouver 2010.
Walter Wallberg made Beijing 2022 the site of his first major global title since his World Cup start in 2015.
At 18 years and 158 days, Elieen Gu became the youngest Chinese Winter Olympic gold medalist with her big air win...and the youngest-ever Olympic freestyle skiing gold medalist...and the first Chinese freestyle Olympic medalist...and the first woman to 'spin dub 1440 (or higher) in competition'. All while debuting the big air event in the Games. And, two medals later...she is now the first athlete to win three freestyle skiing medals in one Games.
Colby Stevenson won silver in big air...six years after a near-fatal accident. "I'm still using that as a life lesson to just live and enjoy every moment."
Nick Goepper (slopestyle) and Mikael Kingsbury (moguls) join Kari Traa (moguls) as three-time career medalists in the same freestyle event.
Xu Mengtao's gold in aerials was the tenth overall Olympic medal for China in the discipline, but the first-ever gold. Qi Guangpu would make it double gold with his men's victory.
Team Denmark's women's team scored their nation's first-ever Olympic ice hockey win with a 3-2 round-robin victory over Czech Republic. Followed by...Team Denmark's men winning their first-ever Olympic game...over, yes, Czech Republic.
Team USA's men secured its first Olympic victory over Team Canada in 12 years, 4-2 in a preliminary round match-up.
Marie-Philip Poulin became the first ice hockey player to score at least one goal in four Olympic gold medal games, with two in this year's title game. Those goals helped lead Team Canada to victory, and the first time it's held both the World Championship and the Olympic title at the same time in 'nearly a decade'.
Slovakia won the bronze medal for its first-ever podium finish in Olympic ice hockey, inspiring fans back home along the way.
And, Finland won the final gold of Beijing 2022, with the men's ice hockey title. Its Finland's first Olympic title ever, since the sport's debut at Antwerp 1920. All six of its previous lesser medals have come since Calgary 1988.
Johannes Ludwig became the oldest man to win an Olympic luge singles title, at age 35.
Natalie Geisenberger - who had thought about not competing at all - is now the only woman to win a luge event in three consecutive Games.
Then, Tobias Arlt & Tobias Wendl joined Geisenberger as three-time winners with their doubles gold. With the team relay gold, Arlt & Tobias and Geisenberger are now co-record holders of the most career luge golds, to boot, with six each.
Was this the last men's only competition of the last Olympic sport to not have a women's event? It's time.
Meanwhile, Germany and Austria both extended their streak of at least one medal in Olympic Nordic combined in each Games since Salt Lake 2002. (Neither won one at Nagano 1998.) Side note: There's a commentary about breadth of national diversity in winter Olympic sports - e.g. Nordic combined, luge - that I'm still wrapping my head around...
And, Joergen Graabak became the first man to win two large hill/10km individual gold medals, after winning in 2022 and 2014.
Japan's bronze in the team event was its first team podium placement since 1994. Meanwhile, Norway's win gave them three all-time Olympic golds in the event - surpassing Japan and Austria at two each.
Five-time Olympian Arianna Fontana became the all-time medalist in short track speed skating with her ninth medal - a silver in the mixed team relay.
In defense of her Olympic title, Suzanne Schulting set a world record in 1,000 meters. Shaolin Sandor Liu set an Olympic record in the quarterfinals of the 1,500 meters, and Hwang Dae-heon did so in the 1,000 meters heats. In the end, a total of eight Olympic records were set, including Schulting's world.
Shaoang Liu's gold in the 500 meters is the first Winter Olympic individual gold for Hungary in any sport. (He was also part of the relay team that won Hungary's first-ever Winter gold of any kind four years ago).
Charles Hamelin closed his career in style: tied for both the most decorated Canadian Winter Olympian (six overall medals) and the most gold medals by a Canadian Olympian (four), and becoming co-most decorated male Canadian Olympian. He is the first male short track-er to medal in five different Games, and, finally, the oldest-ever short track medalist (37).
The 1-2 finish by Christopher Grotheer and Axel Jungk gave Germany its first medals in the men's event, deepening its dominance in Olympic sliding sports.
Germany continued with its first-ever gold in the women's event (Hannah Niese), in a race that also saw the first women's medalist from outside Europe or North America (Jaclyn Narracott with silver - also Australia's first sliding medal), and the first sliding sport medal for Netherlands (Kimberly Bos' bronze).
The sport saw the first-ever Olympic mixed team competition, in an event that saw a first-ever ski jumping medal for Canada.
Although it has the most Olympic titles in the large hill event (now eight), Marius Lindvik's gold this year was the first for Norway since 1964. And, it extended Norway's lead as all-time gold medal leader in the discipline, with 12 to Finland's 10.
The first-ever Winter Olympic gold for New Zealand went to Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, whose father made headlines, too.
Max Parrot won his second Olympic slopestyle medal - this one gold, and after 12 rounds of treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma after a late 2018 diagnosis.
Kaishu Hirano flew more than 24 feet into the air - a record - in the men's halfpipe.
Benjamin Karl became the oldest snowboarding gold medalist, at age 36, with his victory in the parallel giant slalom to match previous silver and bronze finishes in past Games...
...that is, until Lindsay Jacobellis put Torino 2006 demons to rest to win snowboard cross gold and claim the oldest title...
...and then Nick Baumgartner teamed with Jacobellis for a team snowboard cross gold, to make him the oldest snowboarding medalist at age 40. And, Jacobellis became the fist woman to win two snowboard golds in the same Games.
Canada's six snowboarding medals in these Games put it atop the sport's medal table...and meant the first time the United States wasn't on top since the sports debut at Nagano 1998. The positive spin? Global diversity!
Claudia Pechstein is now the oldest-ever female Winter Olympian at age 49. She also shares the record for most Winter Games participation, at eight since Albertville 1992, and was Team Germany's co-flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.
With victory in the 5,000 meters, Nils van der Poel earned Sweden's its first Olympic speed skating medal of any kind since 1988. He then followed up with a world record gold medal race in the 10,000 meters.
Ireen Wust's 1,500-meters gold gave her six individual Olympic titles across five separate Winter Games - cementing a record for most speed skating career Olympic medals (12), and for winning a medal in most consecutive Games. p.s. Wust ended up with 13 medals.
Gao Tingyu set an Olympic record of 34.41 seconds in the men's 500 meters ace to give China its fourth gold of their home Olympics. And, that race's podium was the first-ever in the event to feature three separate Asian nations.
Erin Jackson became the first Black woman to win an individual Winter Olympics gold in her 500 meters victory.
Meanwhile, Irene Schouten's mass start gold meant she became the second Dutch speed skater to win four medals in one Games. (Wust was the first).
Speed skating concluded with 13 Olympic records - counting Gao's and van der Peol's record noted above, and including six by five separate Dutch skaters.