What a night for Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Figure skater Nathan Chen built on a near flawless world-record-setting short program performance (113.97 points) to earn his first Olympic gold medal in the men's free skate.
Chen's win came on the heels of snowboarder Chloe Kim's historic showing. Kim grabbed gold with an outstanding first run in the women's halfpipe finals. With Kim's victory, she became the first woman in Olympic history to win back-to-back gold medals in the event.
U.S. men's hockey gets going
Team USA opened the Beijing Olympics men's ice hockey tournament with an 8-0 win over China on Thursday, turning a close game into a blowout thanks to impressive offensive skill from their collection of young players.
Forward Sean Farrell had a five-point game, scoring a hat trick and adding two assists. The Harvard University player, who also played for the USHL Chicago Steel, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2020.
"It's awesome to get our first game under our belts. We've been working really hard in practice and coming together as a group off the ice," said Farrell. "We don't really know what we've got until we step on the ice for the first game. It was a great start for us." -- Greg Wyshynski
Nathan Chen fulfills his Olympic destiny
Nathan Chen did it! After four long years, he finally earned his Olympic crown -- and he had fun doing it. Chen nailed his five quad jumps, boogied to Elton John and would have brought down the house had there been a crowd. His total score was an unbelievable 332.60 points.
Japan's Yuma Kagiyama, 18, won silver with a huge total score of 310.05, beating out countryman Shoma Uno, the 2018 silver medalist.
Despite finishing eighth in the short program after an uncharacteristic mistake, Yuzuru Hanyu missed the podium by only one spot. He attempted a quad axel in his free skate but did not land it. American Jason Brown finished in sixth. -- Elaine Teng
That's two-time gold medalist Chloe Kim, to you ...
Chloe Kim placed her hands on her ears, screaming at the end of her first run. She had two more runs left to go, but she already knew that run could very well make her the two-time Olympic champion. A frontside 1080. A cab 900. A switch backside 540. A cab 1080. There was nobody in the competition who could outperform that run.
And, defend her gold medal it did.
The scoreboard read 94.00.
94.00.— Team USA (@TeamUSA) February 10, 2022
CHLOE KIM. pic.twitter.com/LEaxoNsDkx
Kim fell in her second and third run, trying to compete with her own score, but it didn't matter. Her score from her first run stuck, and the 21-year-old is now a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Spain's Queralt Castellet took silver, and Japan's Sena Tomita took bronze. -- Aishwarya Kumar
LOVE YOU @ChloeKim ❤️❤️❤️— Adam Rippon (@AdamRippon) February 10, 2022
Chloe Kim!!! 👏🏽 Maybe I should start eating churros before competition too? 😂— Gabby Thomas (@ItsGabrielleT) February 10, 2022
I just ate churros to celebrate @ChloeKim!!!— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) February 10, 2022
New event, new gold
Team USA won the gold medal in the first-ever mixed team aerials skiing competition.
Blaming the mustache
Athletes are a superstitious bunch, and Canadian skier Jack Crawford decided the difference between potentially breaking the family curse of near-podium misses and winning an Olympic medal lay in his wispy brown mustache.
Crawford had already come in fourth in the downhill race and sixth in the super-G, so he decided to shave off his mustache ahead of Thursday's Alpine combined and ended up taking the bronze medal.
"I've been searching for a podium so long," he said. "I kept feeling it was right around the corner."
When asked by reporters in Beijing whether his new fresh-faced appearance was perhaps the secret behind his elevation to bronze, he said, "I honestly shaved it because I felt it wasn't getting me on the podium. It was a little bit of a juju thing. Maybe it was the reason, maybe not. I definitely look a lot younger."
The Crawford family has a proud history of skiing. His older sister Candace Crawford finished ninth in the mixed team parallel slalom at Pyeongchang in 2018, while his aunt Judy Crawford Rawley finished fourth in the slalom at the 1972 Olympics. -- Tom Hamilton
Shiffrin's support system for the win
It's no secret it has been a rough Olympic Games thus far for Mikaela Shiffrin. The 26-year-old arrived in Beijing with sky-high expectations but has recorded two DNF results in her first two races. After a good practice on Thursday, it was announced Shiffrin will compete in Friday's super-G competition.
But thankfully for Shiffrin, she has a great support system -- starting with her boyfriend and fellow skier, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde. Also in Beijing and having won the bronze medal earlier this week in the super-G competition, Kilde took to Instagram after Shiffrin's disappointing slalom performance.
The pressure we all put on individuals in the sports are enormous, so let's give the same amount of support back," Kilde wrote in part. "It's all about the balance and we are just normal human beings!! I love you Kaela."
And, as if that wasn't sweet enough, Shiffrin responded with a tweet of her own about what Kilde means to her. You might want to get the tissues ready because this is truly just the best. -- D'Arcy Maine
Disqualifications rock mixed ski jump's Olympic debut
The mixed ski jump team event was thrust into the limelight Wednesday, and not for the obvious reasons (its Olympic debut). Five women ski jumpers -- all of whom were medal contenders -- were disqualified after officials announced that their suits were "too big and offered an aerodynamic advantage," TODAY reported. The athletes and their teams (Germany, Norway, Austria and Japan) responded strongly: Some were reduced to tears, while others expressed outrage.
🇸🇮 Slovenia won the mixed team #skijumping gold but the big talking point of the event's first appearance at the #Olympics was a series of disqualifications that hit the favorites and meant world champions Germany failed to make the final https://t.co/hWR66nNZB5 pic.twitter.com/0whUb5aZSn— Reuters (@Reuters) February 8, 2022
Germany's Katharina Althaus, one of the disqualified athletes who won silver in the individual ski jumping event just days before, told Agence France-Presse that her suit has been checked innumerable times in her 11-year career and that she has always been compliant.
"We were looking forward to the second competition at the Olympics. FIS destroyed that with this action -- they destroyed women's ski jumping," Althaus told reporters. "Our names are now [out] there, and we just pulled the crap card. That is how you destroy nations, development and the entire sport." -- Aishwarya Kumar