The U.S. grabbed more shiny hardware Saturday at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Lindsey Jacobellis, 36, won her second gold medal of these Games, finishing first alongside American teammate Nick Baumgartner in the debut of mixed-gender team snowboardcross. The Americans were the oldest team in the field with a combined age of 76.
For Baumgartner, 40, who was heartbroken after failing to advance to the men’s individual final, it was a second chance to earn his first Olympic medal in what was likely his fourth and final Olympic Games.
(Looking for a recap of Friday’s events? We’ve got you covered.)
In men’s hockey, the USA defeated Canada 4-2 in a game that will play a big role in determining who wins their pool and gets a bye to the quarterfinals.
Competition resumes in figure skating following Nathan’s Chen’s dazzling gold-medal performance as ice dancing takes center stage with the Rhythm Dance. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who took fourth in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who finished ninth, lead the U.S. contingent.
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Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to appear in court
BEIJING — The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced Saturday that it has set a time and date for the hearing on Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s case.
CAS said it has scheduled the hearing for 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, with the expectation that it will issue a ruling at some point Monday.
Valieva, 15, tested positive for a banned heart medication that can improve endurance and blood flow. She was informed of the positive test, which was obtained Dec. 25, earlier this week.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency initially suspended Valieva but then lifted that suspension after she appealed, prompting the International Olympic Committee, among other governing bodies, to seek a ruling from CAS on the issue.
— Tom Schad
Falling for the panda mascot of Beijing 2022
BEIJING — Beijing 2022’s panda mascot is garnering love from supporters everywhere, with Wu Rourou waiting 11 hours in line to purchase her own Bing Dwen Dwen stuffed animal. Stores and online China’s consumers are buying collectible stuffed-animal versions of the mascot whose name translates into English as a combination of “ice” and “chubby” in droves.
“It’s so lovely, and really cute, and oh, I don’t know, because it’s a panda,” gushed Wu Rourou, as she explained in a text message to USA TODAY why she stood in line for 11 hours overnight in sub-zero temperatures in Nanjing, in southern China, for a chance to buy Games-related souvenirs of the bear native to mountain ranges in central China.
— Kim Hjelmgaard
While you were sleeping
Jordan Stolz finishes 13th in 500m in Olympic debut
BEIJING — In his Olympic debut, Jordan Stolz finished 13th in the men’s 500 meters.
The 17-year-old from Kewaskum, Wisconsin, the youngest skater in the race, finished in 34.85 seconds. Skating in the fifth pair, he was the fastest through 10 skaters but was quickly surpassed by China’s Gao Tingyu, who finished in an Olympic record time of 34.32, and Damian Zurek (34.73) of Poland, skating in the seventh pair.
Racing on home ice at the National Speed Skating Oval, Gao’s time would be the fastest of the day, earning him Olympic gold to go along with the bronze he won at this distance in 2018.
South Korea’s Min Kyu Cha won silver in 34.39 and Japan’s Wataru Morishige took the bronze in 34.49.
— Lori Nickel
Shaun White to attend Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Shaun White’s next big contest — the Super Bowl.
Less than 24 hours after snowboarding’s global icon took his final competitive halfpipe ride at the Olympics, he was bound for the airport. The destination: Los Angeles to watch his first Super Bowl in person.
White said his girlfriend, actress Nina Dobrev, has been suggesting he get busy making a list of things he wants to do in retirement “so I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs.”
— Associated Press
US finishes sixth in women’s cross country 4x5k relay
BEIJING — Saving American cross-country stalwart Jessie Diggins for the anchor leg in the 4x5k relay race was probably the right strategy on paper. But unfortunately for Diggins, her teammates couldn’t stay close enough in the first three legs for it to matter.
In an event where Team USA hoped to win its first-ever medal, Diggins couldn’t pull off a miracle and had to settle for a sixth-place finish.
The Russian team took the gold medal, pulling away from Germany in the final two kilometers. Sweden edged Finland for the bronze.
The American team realistically lost all chance at a medal toward the end of the second leg when Rosie Brennan, who had been part of the chase group behind Russia and Germany for most of her run, faded toward the end and lost touch with the pack. Novie McCabe, the 20-year-old making her Olympic debut, had no one to draft with and could not get back into the chase group on the third leg. By the time she handed off to Diggins, who won gold in the team sprint in 2018 and bronze this year in the individual sprint, the U.S. team was almost 43 seconds outside of medal contention.
That was too much ground for Diggins to make up to reach the group of Norway, Finland and Sweden that was battling it out for third place for most of the race. The U.S. team finished the race in 55:09.2, about 67 seconds out of the podium.
— Dan Wolken
Kamila Valieva returns to practice rink
BEIJING — Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva returned to the practice rink Saturday, as her future at the Olympics remains in limbo.
About 50 journalists and two dozen photographers lined the boards of the rink as Valieva took the ice for her scheduled practice, sporadically speaking with her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, throughout the session. The 15-year-old did not respond to questions from reporters as she walked through the mixed zone.
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication, on Dec. 25 but competed in the team competition earlier this week because the analysis of the sample had not yet been reported by the lab.
Valieva has since been provisionally suspended and later reinstated by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport is now set to rule on her status in the coming days.
“The conversation is unfortunate, because we’re at the Olympics, right?” said American Mariah Bell, who skated on the practice rink after Valieva. “I can’t do anything about it, obviously. I’m just here to focus on my own skating.”
— Tom Schad
Downhill remains a possibility for Mikaela Shiffrin
BEIJING — That went pretty well for Mikaela Shiffrin not having been on downhill skis for more than two months.
Shiffrin had the ninth-fastest time, and best of the U.S. women, in the first downhill training run Saturday. More importantly, she felt good enough that she’s still planning on doing Tuesday’s downhill race at the Beijing Olympics, as well as the Alpine combined Thursday.
“Today gives me a little bit more positivity,” she said. “We’re going to have to see how things go as the days progress.”
The combined is one run each of downhill and slalom, so Shiffrin would do the training runs regardless. But she has said multiple times that she hoped to do the downhill race, too, depending on how she felt in training.
— Nancy Armour
Team USA surges past Canada in game featuring future NHL stars
It appears to be in good hands, but the veterans provided the difference as the U.S. men’s hockey team defeated Canada 4-2 in a fast-paced contest Saturday at National Indoor Stadium.
Four of the top five picks in the 2021 NHL draft played in the game (three for Canada). Team USA improved to 2-0 in Beijing; they defeated China 8-0 on Thursday.
The U.S. will finish group play Sunday night (8:10 a.m. ET) against Germany, the defending silver medalists.
— Chris Bumbaca
Team USA men’s hockey clinging to goal lead vs. Canada
BEIJING — The U.S. clings to a one-goal lead entering the third period against Canada, 3-2.
Brendan Brisson scored his second goal in two games after Canada goaltender Eddie Paquale mishandled a puck behind his own net. Nathan Smith provided the pressure, and Nick Shore wound up with the puck. All Shore had to do was pass it to a wide-open Brisson.
But disaster stuck for the U.S. on a power play later in the period. Canada’s Daniel Winnik found Corban Knight on a 2-on-1. Knight beat Mann stick-side, and the Canadians controlled play, ending it on a power play the Americans will have to kill for 18 more seconds to open the third. Josh Ho-Tsang missed an open net on a rebound in a lucky break for the U.S.
The U.S. holds a slight advantage in shots on net, 22-20.
— Chris Bumbaca
Jessie Diggins will be going for her second medal – and Team USA’s second medal overall in cross-country skiing – when the women’s 4-5k relay event takes place at 2 a.m. ET (streaming live on Peacock, and NBCOlympics.com).
On Tuesday, Diggins won the first ever women’s individual medal in U.S. cross country skiing history when she earned the bronze medal in the sprint event.
On Saturday, Diggins will be joined by Hailey Swirbul, Rosie Brennan and Novie McCabe for the 4x5k cross-country relay.
The U.S. finished fifth in the competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Norway are the reigning Olympic champions.
USA holds 2-1 lead over Canada in men’s hockey after first period
BEIJING — A fast-paced first period between the U.S. men’s hockey team and Canada ended with the Americans on top 2-1.
Canada got on the board first when Mat Robinson’s shot from the right boards squeaked through traffic and then by U.S. goaltender Strauss Mann. Other than that mistake, Mann had a solid first period in net and saved the next 10 shots that came his way (11 saves total).
Seventy seconds after Canada took the lead, American captain Andy Miele took a pass at the blue line, streaked up the ice, and tied the game with a backhander that went top shelf.
With 1:16 to go in the first, Jake Sanderson – who missed the first game of the tournament while clearing COVID-19 protocols – passed to Ben Meyers in front of the net. Meyers sent the puck backward to Sean Farrell, coming off a five-point hattrick in the opener against China, who then dished it back to Meyers for an point-blank shot to make it 2-1.
— Chris Bumbaca
USA Hockey has been reported to Congress for potential interference in an investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to a report. SafeSport investigates reports of sexual misconduct and other abuses within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee jurisdiction.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to USA Hockey about the alleged violation. According to the Athletic, the letter was addressed to USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher – who is currently in Beijing – and president Mike Trimboli. Grassley’s letter referenced a law that required SafeSport to report to Congress within 72 hours “any attempt to interfere in or influence the outcome of an investigation” by a national governing body, per the Athletic, and that SafeSport’s report came earlier this week.
Reached for comment, a U.S. Center for SafeSport spokesperson said via email “we do not comment on matters to protect the integrity of the process.”
The U.S. Center for SafeSport investigated former USA Hockey president Jim Smith due to allegations he mishandled accusations of sexual abuse against a minor in Illinois. USA Hockey is a co-defendant in a May 2021 lawsuit in the case. In 2010, USA Hockey hired Brad Aldrich – the former Chicago Blackhawks video coach who allegedly raped then-prospect Kyle Beach – five months after his departure from the Blackhawks. The Athletic reported that USA Hockey did not check with the Blackhawks for references or to inquire about the nature of his departure.
— Chris Bumbaca
Team USA wins gold again in snowboardcross
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — American Lindsey Jacobellis is golden again.
The oldest pair in the competition used their experience on the course to win the event. On the first leg in the final, Baumgartner gave Jacobellis a .04 second advantage going into the last leg.
After Jacobellis moved from third to second in her final heat, a crash behind her left it down to a race with Italy’s Michela Moioli, who won women’s individual gold in the 2018 Olympics. Jacobellis took the lead on the late curve and held on to cross the line first.
The medal is the first for Baumgartner, 40, in his fourth Games. Jacobellis, 36, now has three Olympic medals. She won silver in Torino in 2006.
— Rachel Axon
Ukranian skeleton racer makes plea for peace at Olympics
BEIJING – The International Olympic Committee said that when Ukrainian skeleton athlete Vladyslav Heraskevych flashed a small sign to cameras that read “No War In Ukraine” after he finished competing on Friday night it did not violate Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.
Rule 50 says “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
The Games’ governing body described Heraskevych’s gesture as “general call for peace” and said no further action would be taken.
Russian and Ukrainian athletes in Beijing have generally been eyeing each warily, from a distance, as concerns grow that Moscow could be preparing to invade Ukraine over what it claims are security concerns connected to NATO expansion.
— Kim Hjelmgaard
Uhlaender lost a medal to Russian doping, but skeleton racer perseveres
BEIJING – There is an inherent contradiction in the way American skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender loves being at the Olympics and the lack of faith she has in the organizations tasked with keeping the competition clean and fair.
It is part of what she calls the “duality” of being human, knowing she was cheated out of a bronze medal at the Sochi Games in 2014 while also respecting the competitor who beat her by .04 seconds but was later implicated in Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal. It explains why she keeps coming back – this is her fifth time now – despite wondering if the system that’s supposed to protect athletes like her will ever work.
“It just shows there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that exists at the same time of the Olympics being so amazing and inspirational,” she said.
It would be a remarkable, full-circle moment for Uhlaender if she could pull off something special Saturday and win the medal that was taken from her for good when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned Elena Nikitina’s lifetime ban in February of 2018 and let her keep the bronze from Sochi. Nikitina was one of 28 Russian athletes for whom the CAS ruled there was insufficient evidence to establish anti-doping violations.
That wrong may never be righted in Uhlaender’s mind, but a medal in Beijing is not out of her reach. Halfway through the women’s skeleton race, she sits in eighth place, half a second behind the leader Jaclyn Narracott of Australia, but only three-tenths out of third place on a tightly bunched leaderboard heading into the final two runs.
— Dan Wolken
US snowboard launches investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – U.S. Ski & Snowboard confirmed Friday that it opened an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior within the U.S. snowboardcross team, including some that have been levied against its current head coach.
Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, a member of the 2010 Olympic team, said in a series of Instagram posts that the coach, Peter Foley, has “taken naked photos of female athletes for over a decade” and made an explicit comment to her about another woman’s appearance in 2014.
“I cannot watch another Olympic Games without saying this publicly,” she wrote in one Instagram post.
Foley denied the allegations when asked about them after the mixed team snowboardcross competition on Saturday. “I’m super surprised by the allegations and I vehemently deny the allegations,” Foley said.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard spokesman Tom Horrocks said the organization is “aware of the recent allegations” against Foley.
“We take these very serious and these are being investigated,” Horrocks wrote in an email, adding that the organization would not comment further.
Horrocks did not say who is investigating Chythlook-Sifsof’s statements.
— Rachel Axon and Tom Schad
The story of two snowboards that changed Shaun White’s life
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — The end caused Shaun White to reflect back on the beginning, and the story he told while choking back tears after his final halfpipe competition says as much about him as it does about snowboarding.
White recalled getting his first snowboard, running home from school for days to ask his mother whether it had arrived.
“And it wasn’t there. And then the next day, same thing. For like four days, I did that,” White said. “And then one day, she just burst into the classroom with a board in her hand, and I was like beside myself. She interrupted everyone just to give me my board, and from then on, it was just, I was on a mission.” (Read the full story)
— Rachel Axon
Rippon: Adults put Valieva ‘in this awful situation’
Valieva, the favorite to win individual gold at the Winter Olympics, tested positive for a banned substance yet Russian officials appealed her provisional suspension and she has been allowed to practice. A final decision on whether Valieva can skate in the women’s individual competition, which starts Tuesday, has not yet been reached.
The International Olympic Committee is pushing to have Valieva suspended, at which point the International Skating Union would likely disqualify the gold-medal-winning Russian Olympic Committee from the team skating competition and reward the United States with the gold medal.
“This entire situation is heartbreaking,” Rippon tweeted on Friday. “This young girl is just 15. She’s a minor. The adults around her have completely failed her. They’ve put her in this awful situation and should be punished.”
— Scott Gleeson
Saturday offers some good shots at Olympic gold
The U.S. enters Saturday sitting seventh in the medal standings with 10.
Medal possibilities on Saturday exist in mixed team snowboardcross, where gold medalist Lindsey Jacobellis returns to action, cross country skiing, with star U.S. star Jessie Diggins leading the women’s relay team, and long track speedskating, where 17-year-old Jordan Stolz will race in the 500 meters.
Norway and Austria top the overall medal standings with 14 apiece, but Germany, with 11 total medals, leads the race for gold with seven.
When will the Winter Olympics end?
Don’t worry, we still have more than a week’s worth of action to go at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The closing ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 20 starting at 7 a.m. ET.
Russian figure skating doping appeal heads to Court of Arbitration for Sport
BEIJING – Breaking its silence on the Russian figure skating doping fiasco, the IOC is appealing a Russian Anti-Doping Agency ruling that allowed star Kamila Valieva to continue practicing for Tuesday’s women’s short program. The appeal now sets the stage for a dramatic legal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
If the appeal is successful, the International Skating Union, the worldwide governing body for figure skating, would likely disqualify the gold-medal-winning Russian Olympic Committee from the team skating competition and reward the United States with the gold medal.
It’s hard to imagine something worse for the reputation of these already-controversial Games than having an Olympic drug cheat winning not one but two gold medals less than two months after she tested positive for a banned substance known to increase endurance and stamina.
That Valieva is a minor, only 15, is troubling, engendering plenty of deserved sympathy. It is the adults around her, those who encouraged her use of a banned substance, who truly deserve our scorn. But you can feel sorry for Valieva, the women’s gold-medal favorite and a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and still believe that she shouldn’t be allowed to step onto Olympic ice again. (Read Christine Brennan’s full column)
— Christine Brennan
Kessel leads U.S. women’s hockey after overcoming concussion
BEIJING – In her early 20s, U.S. women’s hockey forward Amanda Kessel had established herself as one of the best in the sport. She was named college hockey’s top player in 2013, and in 2014, she helped Team USA win a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics.
Kessel suffered a concussion during a scrimmage before those Olympics, and the concussion-like symptoms lingered after the Games, causing her to take a year off from school.
“There were some really dark times,” she told USA TODAY Sports. “I really thought my career might be over.” (Read the full story)
A referral to concussion expert Micky Collins at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center brought about a change to her treatment program and a return to elite status.
Kessel is now playing in her third Olympics.
During the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, she was part of the gold-medal squad. For Collins, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone who was “super sick,” like Kessel, hoist a gold medal.
“To see her get back to that level,” Collins said, “that’s what it’s all about.”
Kessel entered the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic leading the team in points with six (four assists, two goals) and is now tied for second as the Americans advanced to the semifinals.
— Chris Bumbaca