First time medalists
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott made history earlier in the Olympics by winning New Zealand’s first ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics. The gold medal came 70 years after their first medal at the Olympics, and 30 years after their first medal in Lillehammer.
New Zealand got their first gold in a way that most other drought breakers have – in the newer, less traditional sports.
Forty-one different nations (according to the IOC) have won gold at the Winter Olympics, with 16 of those coming in the last 30 years. The majority of these breakthroughs have occurred in the newer sports, such as snowboarding, freestyle skiing and short track speed skating. As the Winter Olympics pushes to diversify its offerings, more countries are being successful on the big stage.
Only Yugoslavia, Luxembourg, Denmark, Romania and DPR Korea have won medals without winning a gold medal currently. Argentina have competed in the most Winter Olympic Games without winning a medal, competing in 20 Olympics without finishing the top three. Their closest finish came in their first appearance in 1928, finishing in fourth and fifth in the bobsleigh.
The Medal Events
Figure Skating – Mixed Ice Dance (1215 AEST)
The one with the twizzles.
Ice dancing is more ballroom than gymnastics, with a lot of the throws and lifts from ice skating not part of the dancing event. Teams are judged on transitions, composition, and interpretation and close attention is paid to rhythm with the music. There are two routines, with the rhythm dancing was done yesterday and today concluding with the somewhat higher-scored free dance.
Sitting in the top spots are the defending silver medallist French pair of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron followed by the Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, then two American pairs.
The Germans dressed as Joker and Harley Quinn did not advance.
Watch Rating: 2.5/5
Bobsleigh – Women’s Monobob (1400 AEST)
Mono means one. Bob is short for bobsleigh. The brand new single person bobsleigh event is for women only, with no corresponding men’s event. It’s designed to add gender equity in a cost effective manner.
The monobob is unique amongst the sliding events as the equipment is uniform and produced by a single supplier. That means each rider is using more or less exactly the same gear, reducing the spending war that happens in other events.
This first Olympic Monobob event sees Australia’s Bree Walker sitting 7th after two of the four runs which make up the event. Kaillie Humphries is in the gold medal position by over a second and has one hand on that medal.
Humphries is the most successful athlete in the two-women bob, with two golds and a bronze to her name. But they all came for Canada, while in Beijing she will be representing the US after a clash with the Canadian federation.
Christine de Bruin is in second by a small margin and then it’s a steady procession of close splits back from there. With the bronze 0.77 seconds ahead, a podium finish may still be an outside change distance for Walker if everything breaks her way.
Watch Rating: 3/5
Freestyle Skiing – Women’s Aerials (2300 AEST)
The women’s aerials was the first discipline that the Australian sporting framework really targeted for success, and it has paid off in spades over the years. Australia has won two of the last five gold medals in the event, with Alisa Camplin and Lydia Lassila claiming famous victories in Salt Lake City and Vancouver respectively.
Aerials sees skiers point their skis directly downhill at a quarterpipe, launching themselves multiple stories in the air. The medalists will be shooting for triples – three full vertical rotations in the air. Form matters a lot, and the separation of skis and legs will be punished harshly. The athletes land on chopped up snow and pine needles, to distinguish the ground from the sky.
Australia’s Laura Peel is the current World Champion, and will be joined in the event by fellow countrywomen Danielle Scott and Gabi Ash. Strong competition will come from traditional powerhouses China (Xu Mengtao), Belarus (Hanna Huskova), USA (Ashley Caldwell) and Russia (Liubov Nikitina).
Watch rating: 3/5
Ski jumping – Men’s large hill team (2306 AEST)
The teams hit the hill in perhaps the most terrifying event of the Olympics. Jumpers will be looking to hit 140m off the jump, a ridiculous distance. It’s also the last dedicated ski jumping event at the Olympics, and the last chance for ski jumping fans to get their Olympic fix for four years.
Germany come in as favourites, placing two athletes in the top five of the individual final. Austria, Japan, Slovenia and Poland should also come into contention for the medals.
Watch rating: 1.5/5
Alternative Medal Tally
Some of the most iconic events of the Winter Olympic take place at the point where a metal blade meets a sheet of ice. Think of the chaos of the short track speed skating, the manic recklessness of the luge, and the precision of the figure skating. But what if these were the only events at the Winter Olympics?
In an Olympics On Ice, the Russians and Germans would be battling for supremacy, pretty much neck and neck across Olympic history. The canal-skating Netherlands would of course perform well, with the now ski-less Norwegians left far behind, the skating specialists South Korea even moving above them.
For its part, Australia would lose most of its Winter Olympics strengths.