With that, I will bid you, and Beijing 2022, farewell. I want to thank Sean Ingle and Bryan Armen Graham who have done such an amazing job of reporting from the ground in Beijing in very difficult circumstances in the “closed loop”.
And I want to thank a myriad of colleagues, many of whose names you don’t see – picture editors, sub editors, production staff, interactive developers, technical staff – who make it all possible for us to cover the Games behind the scenes.
And I want to thank you for reading it all. It is a real honour to be able to cover sporting events like this, and I’ve had such lovely emails from people over the last couple of weeks, so thank you very much.
I love the Olympic ideal, but to me it said everything about this edition that of the two medal ceremonies that took place during the closing ceremony, one featured an athlete who has previously missed an Olympics serving a doping ban, and one featured a country whose national anthem is banned due to systematic doping, who appear to have paid no heed to that and gone on to have an athlete involved in the biggest and most unsettling Olympic doping scandal for years.
And the president of the IOC chose to say absolutely nothing in his speech about wanting or needing clean competition for the Olympics to remain credible.
All that feels like it has totally overshadowed what has been two weeks of – mostly – fantastic competition and huge sporting achievements. There have been some incredible multi-medal performances from the likes of Johannes Thingnes Bø, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Irene Schouten and Suzanne Schulting, as well as break-out stars like Eileen Gu. Ah well, until Milano Cortina in 2026 I guess.
Before that the Paralympics start in Beijing with their opening ceremony on Friday 4 March, and you’ll be able to find coverage on our website. Until then take care and stay safe.
Team GB only had one set of gold medallists in the end from Beijing – and here they are in their own words, Eve Muirhead saying they “did it the tough way.”
The British Olympic Association wants a harsher ban imposed on Russia if it can be proved that its sporting system deliberately doped the 15-year-old skater Kamila Valieva.
Speaking at the end of the Beijing Games, which ended with a gold medal at last for Britain in the women’s curling, the BOA chief executive Andy Anson described Valieva’s treatment as “horrific” and revealed it had lobbied the International Olympic Committee to investigate the skater’s entourage one or two days before the IOC decided to act.
Russia was officially banned from the Winter Olympics, although it was allowed to compete under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee. But Anson indicated that his organisation would back a stiffer punishment if a wider investigation proved Russia wrongdoing.
“The Valieva stuff is horrific,” said Anson. “I don’t think we can pretend that it’s anything other than that. The investigation into everyone around her needs to be thorough and go as deep as it possibly can because what happened there was just completely unacceptable.”
Here are a few images just coming through of the very end of that closing ceremony.
Where after Milano Cortina 2026 I hear you idly wonder? The IOC has gradually moved away from massive bidding processes in favour of having targeted dialogues with potential venues for both the Summer and Winter Games. That is how both Paris and Los Angeles expressing an interest in 2024 led to Paris getting 2024 and Los Angeles getting 2028 for the Summer Games. Brisbane is currently the IOC’s preferred candidate for the Summer Games in 2032.
On the Winter Olympics front, for 2030 there are three venues in the running: Vancouver in Canada, Sapporo in Japan, and an intriguing cross-border bid in the Pyrenees based around Barcelona, Andorra and a couple of venues in France. Vancouver is currently considered the front-runner as it is offering a very eco-friendly bid, not least of which because all of the infrastructure they built for hosting the 2010 Games is still just sitting there.
The choir finished with a brief solo from one child which reminded me of the miming “scandal” from the 2008 Opening Ceremony. The Olympic rings have been raised into the air, the snowflake has been lowered, the flame has been extinguished. Snowflakes are being projected rising up into the air. Fireworks are going up spelling “One world”. They are signing something along to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. And that is a wrap. Just the four years to wait for the next one then.
We’ve had a video montage now of people from all around China, including kids with snowmen, and a dog, and the Games’ cute panda mascot waving goodbye. We are about to see the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, accompanied by a children’s choir.
IOC president uses closing ceremony speech to call for Covid vaccine equality
This speech by IOC president Thomas Bach is a diplomatic test given the controversy surrounding the Games.
Addressing the athletes he said: “You embraced each other even if your countries are divided by conflict. You overcame these divisions. In this Olympic community we are all equal. We are all equal regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe in.”
He notably did not say “or who we love” there.
“You give peace a chance,” he said, echoing a theme he spoke of in the opening ceremony. “May the political leaders around the world be inspired by your example of solidarity and peace.”
Of the pandemic he said “it breaks our hearts” that some athletes could not make it because of Covid, reassuring them they will always belong to the Olympic community.
“If we are to overcome this pandemic,” he said, using the phrases from the Olympic motto, “we must be fast, we must aim higher, we must be stronger, we must stand together.”
He then made an explicit call for equal access to vaccines for everybody around the world.
In praise of China, he said the Chinese people “set the stage” in an excellent and safe way. He said this experience was only because of “our gracious hosts, the Chinese people,” and he said “the positive legacy of this Olympic Games is ensured” with improved participation in Winter sports in China.
“With a truly exceptional Olympic Winter Games, Beijing 2022, we welcome China as a winter sports country.”
He then declared the Games closed. He made no reference – not even obliquely – to any of the controversies that have dogged this Games.
It is speeches time, first up the chair of the organising committee, Cai Qi. He starts by wishing gratitude to athletes, coaches, journalists (air-punch!) and volunteers who made it possible, and praises the “unrelenting pursuit of excellence”
He says all competitions have been well organised, and thanks to the professionalism and dedication of the media every moment was captured. He obviously didn’t see me doing it at 6am in my PJs from home.
He also praised the people who worked on the Covid response, and says everyone has “worked wonders” for the Games.
I jinxed it. I much preferred the Paris handover segment. What we’ve got here is a sort of Jean Michel-Jarre-esque techno number with two dancers, and a lot of work on the screens that are underneath their feet.
Then a video insert which is brilliantly showing off the scenery and people of Italy, while also featuring a couple of old guys delivering what to my ears seemed a somewhat awkward phonetically-learned message of greeting in Chinese.
And now we come to the handover section. I must confess that the Paris bit of Tokyo’s Olympic closing ceremony was easily the best bit that day, so there’s some pressure – from me mostly – on Milano-Cortina 2026 to deliver here.
It has started with two kids rolling a giant Earth around the stadium cracking ice underneath them to demonstrate the fragile state of the world. A big part of the Milano-Cortina bid was using existing infrastructure – which is great from an ecological footprint point of view, but does mean it will be one of the most geographically spread Games of all time.
The pass-the-parcel of the Olympic flag here goes from the mayor of Beijing Chen Jining to IOC president Thomas Bach, to the mayors of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, who I believe are Giuseppe Sala and Gianpietro Ghedina. And now we get the national anthem of Italy. Truly one of the absolute bangers of national anthems, but inexplicably being done in a breathy John Lewis Xmas advert style here. If it ain’t broke …
The Greek flag has been raised and national anthem raised in honour of the Olympic movements debt to the Greeks in founding the concept. That is being followed by the Olympic anthem being sung by children, in a reprise of the same slightly disorganised swaying that we saw in the opening ceremony. The Olympic flag is being lowered to prepare for its formal handover.
We’ve had another montage of highlights, and now we are having a sequence of remembrance which is themed around the willow tree, which is a symbol of sorrow and loss in China.
365 ordinary people are carrying willow branches around the arena, which represent remembering lost loved ones 365 days of the year.
A pillar of light has then built in the middle of the arena as spring arrives. It is accompanied by a very maudlin piece of music for a small strings ensemble.
There has also been a video montage of athletes totally overcome with their emotions during the Games – and a lot of slow motion close-ups of tears. I can’t comment about whether you would be able to film a similar slow motion close-up of tears at my desk yet.
A group representing the volunteers are being gifted traditional Chinese lanterns as a thank you. In the meantime, here are your 30km mass start women’s medallists
There is a video montage now of volunteers and behind the scenes workers from Beijing 2022, with lots of Covid precautions in evidence. We had a gallery on a similar theme yesterday:
The Russian Olympic Committee athletes at these Games have won more medals in total than any previous Soviet Union, Russian, Unified Team or Olympic Athletes of Russia team. The 32 is two more than their previous best. I would wager that at least one of those 32 medals is going somewhere else though, so maybe hold fire on updating your record books.
Here are a few more pictures of the athletes in the stadium while the medal ceremony continues with the Norwegian national anthem being played for the sixteenth time in Beijing.
The next medal ceremony is for the truncated men’s 30km mass start cross-country. It was a third gold for Alexander Bolshunov representing the Russian Olympic Committee at these Games.
As a reminder, due to a worldwide set of sanctions as a punishment for covering up a massive state-sponsored doping programme, we will not be seeing the Russian flag or hearing the Russian national anthem. Instead we get Tchaikovsky‘s Piano Concerto No 1.
The initial four year ban was halved by the court of arbitration for sport, and at the time the British Olympic gold medal cyclist Callum Skinner said the ruling meant “the biggest doping scandal in history had gone unpunished”.
There’s an interlude now while we have a medal ceremony. It is the medals from the women’s 30km mass start free which was held earlier today and which was won by Norway’s Therese Johaug. It is nice for these athletes to get their award in the stadium in front of all their peers.
We’ve gone to a video montage highlights package of clips from the Games. Things I suspect they won’t include: Kamila Valieva’s coach Eteri Tutberidze giving her a hard time after she fell, Remi Lindholm’s frozen penis [see 11.48am], and events due to be held on synthetic snow being postponed because there was suddenly too much real snow.
In an otherwise very tightly controlled Games there’s been a little bit of anarchy here as an announcer keeps politely asking the athletes to leave the stage and go to their seats, and the athletes just keep on dancing and partying as Beethoven’s Ode To Joy goes round on a loop.
The hosts have easily got the biggest contingent in the stadium. They also had their best ever Winter Olympics medal haul.
Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis, Nielsen Gracenote again here, pointing out that they maybe didn’t expect quite the host bounce that other people have:
China did not increase its medal total by as much as most of the recent host nations have, winning only 67% more than in the year prior to hosting. However, gold medals improved from one to nine and were 80% higher than China’s previous best of five. The only hosts since 1988 which have improved their highest number of Winter Olympic gold medals by more than China’s 80% are Japan (1998) and Canada (2010) whose best gold totals went up by 400% and 100% respectively. On total medals, China was the first host nation to finish outside the top-10 medal winners since Canada at Calgary 1988.
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but before I came onto the live blog I was putting the finishing touches to my last daily Beijing briefing of these Game, and it is a jolly good read today, so while the athletes are wandering around the stadium, why not give it a glance?
Bruce Mouat of the men’s curling team is carrying the flag for Team GB. He told the BBC earlier what an honour it was, saying:
They actually told us as a five, and that was an incredible moment, just having all the boys kind of congratulate me as well. I think that kind of gave me goosebumps. Silver medal and the announcement the flag-bearer in the same day. I’ll take that, yeah. It was a good day.
Norway are one of the teams coming into the stadium now and they have absolutely bossed it at these Games. Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis, Nielsen Gracenote had this to say about their performance:
Norway finished at the top of the Beijing Winter Olympics medal table, just as they did four years ago at Pyeongchang 2018. The Norwegian team won two fewer medals than their Olympic record total of 39 achieved in 2018 but broke the Olympic gold medal record by winning 16. Norway won medals in nine of the 15 sports at Beijing 2022.
Norway extended its lead at the top of the all-time medal table for the Winter Olympics. In Beijing, Norway became the first nation to win 400 Winter Olympic medals when the Norwegian nordic combined team won gold on day 13. The Norwegian team finished the 2022 Winter Games on 408 medals, including 148 gold.
Children and other dancers are now pushing around stylised bobsleighs in the shapes of the different animals from the Chinese zodiac, which are glowing bright icy blue, and making virtual ice tracks across the stadium floor.
The flags of all the countries who competed are being brought into the stadium now by flag-bearers from each country. There aren’t as many athletes as usual as Covid protocols dictated that they left within 48 hours of competing.
We are getting the introduction of the dignitaries now. There will be an intense about of scrutiny on the words that IOC president Thomas Bach will say. It is time for the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China.
The closing ceremony is again directed by film director and producer Zhang Yimou, who did the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, and who also did the opening ceremony which we watched just a couple of weeks ago. I’m reliably informed this is going to be a low-key affair again. It has opened with a routine of children carrying snowflake lanterns, and as a very tired parent who has been covering the Winter Olympics non-stop for days I’m already getting a lip wobble.
Hello, Martin Belam here in London. If you were reading the live blog yesterday you’ll know I got a bit emotionally overcome by the figure skating. I expect much the same today.
I am genuinely fascinated how Olympics opening and closing ceremonies have become an arts genre in their own right, and often find them very moving. I’m quite torn this time – I think both Gus Kenworthy and Nils van der Poel have been very eloquent about the issues surrounding the IOC granting China the right to host these Games. Kenworthy said “When there’s human rights and the country’s stance on LGBT, those issues should be taken into consideration by the IOC.”
Van der Poel said “The Olympic Village was very nice, the Chinese people I met were absolutely amazing. The Olympics is a lot, it’s a fantastic sporting event where you unite the world and nations meet. But so did Hitler before invading Poland, and so did Russia before invading Ukraine. I think it is extremely irresponsible to give it to a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing.”
And the saga around the figure skating has really tarnished these Games for me. And yet … and yet … there’s still something incredible about all these athletes coming together to celebrate what they have collectively achieved, and the prospect of a show like no other.
I’m handing over to Martin Belam, who will guide you through the Beijing 2022 closing ceremony. Thanks for reading, emailing and tweeting over the past couple of weeks – it’s been emotional, and I guess it can be summed up by two contrasting narratives.
The brilliance of the remarkable Eileen Gu:
And the sorry story of the lavishly talented Kamila Valieva:
Bye for now.
A non-Winter Olympics newsflash as the Queen tests positive for Covid-19:
Via Reuters this morning – not a headline you see every day:
Lindholm suffers frozen penis in mass start race
The men’s 50km mass start race at the Beijing Games was shortened to 30km but that did little to help Finland’s Remi Lindholm, who needed a heat pack at the end of the race to thaw out a particularly sensitive body part. Lindholm spent just under an hour and 16 minutes traversing the course in howling, freezing winds, leading to his penis becoming frozen for the second time in a cross-country skiing race following a similar incident in Ruka, Finland last year.
“You can guess which body part was a little bit frozen when I finished (the men’s Olympic 50km race) ... it was one of the worst competitions I’ve been in. It was just about battling through,” he said.
With organisers worried about frostbite during Saturday’s race, it was delayed by an hour and shortened by 20km. The thin suits and under-layers worn by racers offered little protection. Lindholm explained that he used a heat pack to try to thaw out his appendage once the race was over. “When the body parts started to warm up after the finish, the pain was unbearable,” he said.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has tweeted congratulations to Eve Muirhead and co. for winning curling gold:
One of my favourite images of the Games. Mikaela Shiffrin skiing off the course after missing a gate in the slalom in the Alpine Combined event.
Shiffrin didn’t win a medal, but she was still brilliant, not least in the way she was willing to discuss and articulate her experience in Beijing.
It’s 10 days since Nathan Chen of the USA won figure skating gold. That will feature highly on the video montages we’ll be seeing on the telly over the next hours and days. Bryan Armen Graham witnessed it for the Guardian:
“Nathan Chen left no doubt, making good on his long-held promise to finally take hold of figure skating’s ultimate prize.
The world’s most dominant skater over the past 47 months roared to the Olympic men’s title on Thursday, winning by more than 22 points over a talent-stacked field of established champions and polished newcomers with a mesmerizing long program that included five quadruple jumps and a pair of triples.”
In screengrab form – the medal table top 10:
Norway, Germany, China on the podium, in that order.
Shaun White’s interview after his final Olympic event, in which he finished fourth, was a tear-jerker. He cracked up while thanking his competitors for their kind words on how he had inspired them to take up snowboarding – and to push the sport further than anyone could have imagined when White first came on the scene. I challenge you to watch White’s interview without a lump in your throat.
‘I’m happy. What a life, what a career, what a legacy to leave behind,” White said. “It’s not about today, it’s about a whole lifetime of this sport. I’ve got to thank the competitors for embracing me this whole way, for the kind words they said to me at the bottom, you know, that I had inspired them, and pushed them to get to this point. Thank you guys, thank you snowboarding. It’s been my life.”
What was your best moment of these Olympics? Feel free to let me know on email or tweet @LukeMcLaughlin
Let’s have a glance at the medal table. Estonia, Latvia and Poland are the three nations who won a single bronze. Spain and Ukraine both notched a single silver each.
Norway are in a league of their own at the top: 16 golds, eight silvers and 13 bronze medals for a total of 37. Germany second (12 golds, 10 silvers, five bronzes = 27), China third (nine golds, four silvers, two bronzes = 15).
Great Britain, of course, were nowhere to be seen on the medal table until the final weekend, when the men won curling silver, and the women won gold.
Finland’s men’s ice hockey team finally reached the top of the Olympic podium on Sunday by beating the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 2-1 to claim the final gold medal of the Beijing Winter Games. Ville Pokka and Hannes Bjorninen each had a goal while Harri Sateri was rock solid in net when called upon, facing 17 shots as the inspired Finns capped an unbeaten run to gold by overcoming the defending champions.
“This means a lot, first time we made history today, it feels great,” said the Finland forward Markus Granlund. “It was early game, fans probably woke up early, it’s a big thing for Finland.”
Finland have made regular appearances on the Olympic podium, returning home with a medal from five of the previous seven Games, but until Sunday had never reached the top step. Twice before the Finns had contested the final, at the 1988 Calgary Games and 2006 Turin Olympics, and come up short.
The last medal to be decided in Beijing - the men’s final - was supposed to provide a sporting crescendo to the Games with the world’s best battling for gold. But Beijing was denied that spectacle when the NHL opted out of Olympic participation after a Covid-19 surge through North American locker rooms forced the postponement of more than 100 games. Instead the players going for gold on Sunday were taken mostly from the Russian-based KHL and Finnish elite league teams.
“What a way to end it and on this day we’re the best hockey country in the world,” said Finnish forward Harry Pesonen. “There are so many good players, even if North American guys were not here. There were no easy games in this tournament.”
“I can’t even describe it, it was an emotional incredible moment,” said Sateri. “I don’t even realise yet it’s such a huge thing, just a huge thing. It’s been a dream since I was a kid. An Olympic gold medal is just unreal.”
“Incredible feeling to get a gold medal, thinking that everybody was up (back in Finland),” said Pokka. “I’m sure everyone in Finland is pretty excited even if it’s super early in the morning. But not too early to drink beer in Finland.” (Reuters)
Bruce Mouat has vowed to bounce back from the heartbreak of having to settle for a silver medal and emulate Eve Muirhead’s march to the top of an Olympic podium. Mouat was in the crowd at the Ice Cube to watch Muirhead’s women’s team defeat Japan 10-3 to claim Great Britain’s first curling gold medal since Rhona Martin’s triumph in 2002.
Muirhead’s success came less than 24 hours after Mouat and teammates Hammy McMillan, Grant Hardie and Bobby Lammie were snuffed out by the Swedish skip Niklas Edin in their own gold medal match.
“That gold medal looked very good on them and now it’s down to hard work from the boys so that we can be the ones putting one on in four years’ time,” said Mouat. “The loss yesterday is going to hurt for a while. The guys and I have got the same drive to get back in 2026 and fight hard for that gold medal. We came so close coming into an extra end with Niklas, but we’re going to give it our all. It’s been a dream of ours for a lifetime.”
Mouat, who missed out in a bronze medal play-off in the mixed doubles competition with Muirhead’s teammate Jennifer Dodds earlier in the Games, paid tribute to the skip’s remarkable resilience. The way Mouat’s men eased through to the semi-finals was in stark contrast to the struggles of Muirhead’s side, who relied on a stroke of fortune before finally finding their form in the last four.
“Eve has been a great ambassador for our sport for so long now,” said Mouat. “With the team that she’s got right now, what a resilient team that is. They’ve had to battle so hard over the last 12 months to get to this point and I’m over the moon for them. I managed to see Jen afterwards and I gave her the biggest hug ever. I can’t stop smiling for them.” (PA Media)
And here’s an Australia-focused gallery of that nation’s exploits at the Games:
Today’s closing ceremony is scheduled to begin in 90 minutes’ time.
This year’s opening ceremony, while a scaled-down affair in comparison with Beijing’s stunning curtain-raiser for the Summer Games in 2008, threw up some beautiful imagery:
Germany extended their historic sliding dominance at the Beijing Games with a one-two finish in the women’s bobsleigh to finish ahead of the United States’ Elana Meyers Taylor, who took bronze to become the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Games history in what may be her final race.
If you’re in the UK, BBC2 are currently replaying Japan v Great Britain in the women’s curling final. You probably know the result already, but if not, here is Sean Ingle’s report:
Thanks Jonathan. Hello everyone. What is my moment of the Games? Japan’s calamity in the women’s speed skating team pursuit springs to mind. Nana Tagaki crashed out on the final bend when the very impressive, incredibly well co-ordinated Japan team were a handful of seconds from glory ... but I only mention it because the overall story ended with happiness for Miho Tagaki (Nana’s sister), with an individual gold medal in the 1,000m. They’d rather have won gold rather than silver in the team pursuit, of course, but it was heartwarming to see Miho Tagaki subsequently get her hands on a gold medal in the individual event.
And before I hand over the baton to Luke in London... in these cynical times, with troops marshalling on the Ukraine border, here’s one for the Olympic romantics.
It was a remarkable few weeks for the Kiwis, with both gold medalists hailing from the town of Wanaka - population 10,000, with at least 5000 of those being registered bungee jumping practitioners.
The Chinese generally don’t go for this type of carry-on. Expect a more sober, low-key affair at this year’s Closing Ceremony, which is due to kick off in just over two hours.
In case you missed it earlier, Mikaela Shiffin’s woes were one of the most compelling storylines of these Games. Today was another excruciatingly near miss for the American, but she demonstrated extraordinary grace under duress.
From the sprint to the marathon, Jessie Diggins was one of the most versatile athletes of these Games.
Eve Muirhead on Britain’s Breakthrough Curling Gold
“This is a moment I dreamed of as a young child. Having lost two semi-finals then come through that great battle against Sweden, we knew this was an opportunity we might never get again.
“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster journey for the whole team. From not finishing the top six at the world championships, we had to come back and it was hard.
“There were times I wanted to throw my shoes in the cupboard and never get them out again. But we all came back and got this new team together and came through the Europeans and the qualifiers.
“There have been ups and downs, there have been a couple of positive tests, but here we are, five very healthy girls with gold medals around our necks.” From Mark Staniforth, PA Olympics Correspondent, Beijing
Lindsey Jacobellis on claiming the Gold that slipped through her grasp 16 years ago.
For many, Eileen Gu was THE star of the 2022 Games.
Even when all the medals have been handed out, Nathan Chen is still having a lend.
Apologies in advance
The Finns had won four Bronze medals in Olympic Hockey, and two Silvers. They’ve been thereabouts in all the big recent tournaments. They conceded an early goal, but scored in the opening seconds of the third period and then hung on for dear life in an excruciating final few minutes. They were Captained by Valtteri Filppula, the former Detroit Red Wing who won a Stanley Cup in 2008. He and his teammates are about to receive their Gold Medals, the last awarded at these Olympics.
Here are your winners, in slightly less euphoric times. There’s some mean looking cats in that lineup.
Hockey Gold to Finland!
Finland 2 - Russia 1
They’ve done it! Finland’s first ever Olympic Hockey Gold. It was a chaotic final few minutes but the Finns stonewalled and repelled and were worthy winners. All that’s missing here is a decent crowd. The Finns are going bonkers and plenty of tears form the Russian lads.
ROC 1-2 Finland, 3rd period
Russia’s goalie Ivan Fedotov is keeping his country in this one. The Finns have had 30 shots on goal to the Russians 16, but it’s still anyone’s Gold.
ROC 1-2 Finland, 3rd period
Russia’s coach Oleg Znarok seems to be in a highly agitated state, pacing around like a nervous groom. We’re nearing the end of the third period.
ROC 1-2 Finland, 3rd period
Thank you Sir. It was a cynical, scrappy, defensive first half but things have opened up noticeably. The Russians are peppering the goal, to no avail.
Goal! ROC 1-2 Finland (Bjorninen 40:31)
Less than 30 seconds into the third period, Marko Anttila shoots only a few feet from the blue line. It deflects in off Hannes Bjorninen, and now the ROC will need to find some offense.
Anttila, incidentally, is 36 years old and has spent most of his career in Finland.
And with that, after all my nights of live-blogging, I’m handing off to Jonathan Horn. Thanks as always for following along through one of the strangest but most exhilarating Olympics of our lifetimes.
My favorite moments of the Olympics? Glad you asked. In no particular order:
- Nathan Chen and Eileen Gu showing off their tremendous talent on the world’s stage.
- Lindsey Jacobellis claiming the gold that slipped through her grasp (or grab) in 2006.
- The scintillating men’s curling final, with Niklas Edin and Bruce Mouat trading amazing shots.
- Jessie Diggins taking two medals at two vastly different differences.
- Mikaela Shiffrin’s extraordinary grace.
- Erin Jackson winning gold, followed a few days later by Brittany Bowe, who gave her 500m berth to Jackson, taking bronze.
I’ll have to stop there because ...
How did Team GB take curling gold and silver in the Olympics? Sean Ingle has the story:
End 2nd period: ROC 1-1 Finland
We end with another ruck and some face mask-pushing between the two teams.
This is not a classic.
ROC 1-1 Finland, 2:29 2nd period
Hockey is the winter sport that loses the most without a crowd. Discuss.
I think Mikaela Shiffrin is practicing what they call “radical acceptance.”
ROC 1-1 Finland, 7:00 2nd period
Shot. Shot blocked. And again.
ROC 1-1 Finland, 10:15 2nd period
This is exactly like the USA-Canada women’s games. Finland keeps shooting. ROC defensemen keep blocking them.
Half-chance when the guy coming out of the box finds the puck on his own, but the Finnish defense scrambles into shape.
ROC 1-1 Finland, 12:29 2nd period
Finland is back on the power play. Last time, they generated a ton of shots and kept it in the ROC zone, but they didn’t manage a breakthrough.
Goal! ROC 1-1 Finland (Pokka 23:28)
Ville Pokka takes an opportunistic shot from the boards, and it looks like it takes a slight deflection through traffic and eludes Fedotov at the near post.
Pokka plays for Avangard Omsk in Russia and is facing three of his teammates. Because some leagues let their players go to the Olympics.
ROC 1-0 Finland, 17:01 2nd period
Long ruck (not a scrum, which is different) along the boards. An official keeps yelling at both teams to get the puck moving, like an MMA ref yelling a fighter to defend himself. Do they all speak English?
End 1st period: ROC 1-0 Finland
Remember when the US women kept outshooting Canada but couldn’t score? Same story here. Finland has outshot Not Russia 15-7.
ROC goalie Ivan Fedotov -- born in Finland, believe it or not -- has stopped all 15 shots. Also believe it or not, he’s 2 meters tall. That’s 6-foot-7, for those still awake in the USA.
Hey, look who’s back!
That’s right -- Vincent Zhou, who won a ... um ... a medal in the figure skating team event but has not yet received it because no one has received a medal because you know the rest of the story, is back to open the exhibition gala.
Goal! ROC 1-0 Finland, 1st period (Grigorenko 7:17)
Eighteen seconds into a power play.
Silver! Jessie Diggins (USA), women's 30km, etc.
A rare sprint-distance double medal, after her bronze in the spring, and Diggins’ face is full of joy, anguish, pain and probably some ice. She goes face-first into the snow, and it’s taking them some time to get her to stand and get away from the finish line.
That’s a full set for Diggins, who took that memorable gold in the 2018 team sprint.
Sweden’s Ebba Andersson couldn’t hang on to bronze and dropped back to eighth. Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen just managed to get away from Sweden’s Jonna Sundling to round out the podium, with the USA’s Rosie Brennan a couple of seconds back in sixth.
Brennan was so close multiple times. Fourth in the sprint. Fifth with Diggins in the team sprint. Now sixth here.
Gold! Therese Johaug (NOR), women's 30km mass start cross-country
Gold in the 10km classical, gold in the skiathlon, gold here. As if Norway needed more medals.
Now we wait for Jessie Diggins and a heated battle for bronze.
The late, great Warren Zevon (with a surprising co-writer -- journalist Mitch Albom): “There were Swedes at the blue line, Finns at the red. A Russian with a stick heading straight for his head.”
Our last event has started ...
Finland vs. the ROC in the men’s hockey final. It’s a terrific matchup with Alex Ovechkin seeking that elusive ... wait ... what?
OK, so it’s a bunch of non-NHL players. But that’s the way it used to be, and it’s going to be a good one.
Also underway: the figure skating exhibition gala. I might put that on my second screen when the cross-country race is finished.
Gold! Francesco Friedrichs (GER), four-man bobsleigh
Great start for Friedrichs, but he went pretty high up on the first wall. That was his only mistake. He was steady the rest of the way with a lead between 0.37 and 0.40 seconds. He posted the fastest time in the second, third and fourth heats. GOAT?
Bobsleigh: All that said, the top two Germans were nigh uncatchable coming into the fourth heat, and Johannes Lochner has come down well ahead of Kripps.
Now it’s Francesco Friedrichs bidding for the double-double -- two-man and four-man in 2018 and 2022 (though the 2018 two-man was shared with Kripps).
Bobsleigh: Phew! Exhale, Canadians. Kripps was going along nicely, with no noticeable errors, but he lost time in the middle section. 0.02 seconds ahead at one split. 0.01 at the next. But the finish is the one that counts, and he was 0.06 ahead.
No sweep for Germany, and unless Rosie Brennan pops up to take bronze while Diggins keeps silver in the 30km cross-country, Canada will finish with more medals than the USA.
Bobsleigh: Moment of truth now for Canada’s Justin Kripps. He shared gold in the two-man in 2018. He was second and third in the two-man and four-man on home ice in Whistler in the 2019 world championships.
Now he needs to finish fast enough to beat Germany’s Christoph Haber, who just finished the best run of the fourth heat so far.
Bobsleigh: Team GB’s Brad Hall will finish sixth, barring disaster for any of the top four. Latvia’s Oskars Kibermanis has crossed the line ahead of him.
Medal count watch
We have only two events in which the medalists are not known. In men’s ice hockey, we don’t know the order of gold and silver, but we know who’s getting something shiny.
Canada currently has 25 medals to the USA’s 24. But if Jessie Diggins hangs on in the women’s 30km cross-country and Justin Kripps doesn’t hang on in the four-man bobsleigh, it’ll be a tie at 25.
Through 17.9 km, Diggins is 49 seconds behind Therese Johaug, who’s poised to extend Norway’s record haul of gold medals to 16 and take their total to 37. Diggins is 53.3 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Ebbe Andersson, who’s more than 30 seconds ahead of anyone else.
Kripps is third in the bobsleigh after three runs. He’ll be up in about three minutes.
Bobsleigh: The USA’s Frank Delduca will move up from 15th to at least a tie for 13th. The top 12 are getting ready to head out next.
Cross-country skiing: Norway’s Therese Johaug has put the hammer down. She leads by 16 seconds. Second place -- Jessie Diggins, who’s more than 16 seconds ahead of everyone else. The USA’s Rosie Brennan is in fifth.
Still nearly 20km to go.
Gold! Great Britain, women's curling
Muirhead, of course, makes the last shot for two, and it’s a 10-3 score. Japan concedes, and GB finally has a gold medal in Beijing.
Curling: Japan puts a couple of rocks in the back of the house, hoping to entice some mistakes. And Vicky Wright makes a rare one, missing a takeout to get at least one of those rocks away.
It’s still not a great-looking house for Japan. GB has the first- and second-best rock, both ahead of the tee line that bisects the house. Japan needs to eventually get rid of those yellow rocks without jamming them onto these red rocks in the back.
Fujisawa’s first rock taps a GB rock on the button. Muirhead knocks that rock away, along with one of the red ones in the back.
So that’s three yellow GB rocks clustered from the button forward in a staggered line. There’s one red Japanese rock in the back. Fujisawa tries to take out a bunch of those rocks. She gets two, but GB still has shot rock and a draw for two. Will the lead be six or seven?
Curling: The five-rock rule means that a team can’t start removing opponents’ guards from play until five rocks have been thrown. We have now passed the five-rock mark, which means Jennifer Dodds is sending granite out of play. Dodds also played mixed doubles in Beijing, placing fourth.
Cross-country skiing: The women’s 30km mass start is underway. The USA’s Jessie Diggins, gold medalist in the team sprint in 2018, is best in the sprints but also solid in longer distances. This year, she has bronze in the individual sprint, fifth in the team sprint, sixth in the skiathlon and eighth in the 10km classic.
Through 6.2km of this epic race, she’s firmly entrenched in a lead pack of four skiers led by Norway’s Therese Johaug.
Curling: I was expecting Japan to concede even if they scored two, which they did not. Fujisawa’s draw was too heavy, like my final shot today when I was in a tie game in the last end. Sniff.
Anyway, we play on ...
8-3 GB after eight ends; GB has hammer
Curling: The two teams put a few rocks in play until Muirhead figures it’s time to just avoid giving up a score of four or six or 13 or whatever. (Eight is actually the maximum, and that requires a lot of mistakes.)
This game is being won at the vice position. Vicky Wright has been outstanding, even if she just didn’t quite make the double takeout on her second shot here. Chinami Yoshida has made too many mistakes. Her last shot just taps a GB guard in utter futility. Muirhead easily disposes of the only Japanese rock in the house, so at most, Japan will score two here.
Fujisawa responds with a wonderful shot, a draw behind all the rocks in play that nestles neatly on the button.
Muirhead’s last shot of this end follows the same path. Fujisawa still has shot rock, but she’ll have to go to the other side of the sheet and throw a really accurate shot to score two ...
Bobsleigh: Only the top 20 drivers through three heats can compete in the last one, which means we much bid farewell to Jamaica’s Shanwayne Stephens. He was 8.25 seconds behind leader Francesco Friedrichs. The next-to-last driver, Italy’s Mattia Variola, was 5.48 seconds back.
But Stephens made it here. Some countries didn’t.
Top 20 will go in reverse order, starting in about 15 minutes.
Curling: It’s almost over, as Muirhead completes a relatively routine runback -- throwing a yellow rock onto her own yellow rock, sending it flying into Japan’s lone red rock in the house. The red rock goes away, and Muirhead scores FOUR.
8-2 GB after seven ends; Japan has hammer
Curling: GB uses its timeout, which is a little surprising this early in the game. But this may be where they can turn a strong lead into a commanding one.
Facing two British rocks touching the button, Fujisawa slams one of her own rocks into the mixer. Muirhead comes back with a beautiful double takeout, though she leaves a rock exposed.
Fujisawa tries to hit and roll into the center to put pressure on Muirhead.
She whiffs ...
Huge opportunity for Muirhead ...
Gold! Austria, Alpine team event
Yeah, not a surprise.
The blue and red courses were so lopsided that, by my count, only three races were won from the red course aside from DNFs or DQs. Two were in the Switzerland-China mismatch. The only other winner? Mikaela Shiffrin.
Curling: Game of inches ...
Muirhead puts her last rock a few inches too deep, leaving Fujisawa a draw for two. But Fujisawa is just a couple of inches off target and scores only one. It’s a long way back now for Japan.
4-2 GB after six ends; GB has hammer
Alpine team event: Nope. Radamus wins but finishes in 24.04.
Just rotten luck for the USA. If Moltzan had kept her feet in the semis, they likely would’ve been going for ... well, silver, because there’s no way they would’ve beaten Austria.
So that’s officially a full Olympics with no medal for Shiffrin, who’ll have to settle for all the hardware she already has and GOAT status.
Alpine team event: Mikaela Shiffrin’s last run in these Olympics starts slowly. And continues slowly. Didn’t miss a gate, but my goodness, she was never even in it.
And Thea Louise Stjernesund laid down a much faster time on the blue course than Moltzan did. River Radamus needs something magical here -- not just a win but a blazing time of 23.62 ...
Curling: Muirhead plays a nice takeout with her first shot. Fujisawa puts one in the middle of a gaggle of British stones, but Muirhead should have a makeable draw that would force Japan to one.
Alpine team event: No mistake for Paula Moltzan this time, and it’s a nice redemptive run, winning by 0.74 seconds.
It would probably take an accident for Ford to win, as it did earlier today. Nope, not this time. 1-1.
Can Shiffrin steal a win from the red course and set things up for a US bronze?
Curling: GB lead Hailey Duff starts things up with a couple of wayward shots, one sliding too deep into the house and one guard that isn’t in line with her first shot. But Vicky Wright picks out a Japanese rock that had been sitting on the button.
Curling: Didn’t mean to leave you hanging there. Muirhead managed to squeeze one of her rocks into a tight space to force Fujisawa into a difficult shot. The Japanese skip removes Muirhead’s rock, but in the ensuing shuffle, Muirhead has a rock slightly closer than Fujisawa, and that’s a steal.
4-1 GB after five ends; Japan has hammer
Alpine team event: Disaster for the USA! On the faster blue course, Paula Moltzan was well on her way to the win but slipped. In the finish area, River Radamus stands up and puts his head on his hands while Mikaela Shiffrin hangs her head.
There’s no way Tommy Ford will win from the red course, is there? No, there’s not. Germany wins 3-1, and the USA will face Norway for bronze.
Alpine team event: As predicted, Shiffrin loses on the slower red course.
Not sure whether this was random assignment or a blunder on the USA’s part. Or do they just think Moltzan is faster?
Radamus answers with a predictably easy win on the blue course. 1-1 in the semis.
Curling: Muirhead’s first rock is a picture-perfect draw that sits in front of the rock Japan just threw. Fujisawa responds with a nice draw to the top of the four-foot. Back in a second ....
Alpine team event: This is shaping up to be a question of who can get the fastest times on the blue course and win the tiebreaker of fastest combined time by the fastest man and fastest woman. Austria and Norway tied 2-2, but Austria took the tiebreaker.
So has the USA made a tactical blunder by putting Shiffrin on the red course, where she’s less likely to win or post a fast enough time to help in a tiebreaker?
Curling: GB puts one in the house. Japan goes for the corner guard but then concentrates on peeling guard after guard.
A missed takeout attempt by Chinami Yoshida opens things a bit, but Vicky Wright puts her draw too deep. Yoshida puts her next rock between Wright’s and the button, though it bounces a little bit off course.
Daniel Taylor writes: “Thanks for the coverage - in Tokyo watching the with my wife on local TV and you’re helping me understand the intricacies of the game! We’ve bet cakes on the outcome so if the ladies win not only do they get gold but I also get cake - a win all around I say! Go team GB!”
Now I’m hungry.
Alpine team event: Another upset, and it shows how much faster the blue course is. Lena Duerr beats double medalist Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, and seventh-seeded Germany knocks out the second-seeded Swiss, who’ll just have to content themselves rolling around on a giant pile of Alpine medals from these Games.
Yes, this affects the USA, which will face Germany in the semis rather than Switzerland.
First up: Austria vs Norway.
Curling: Remember mixed doubles, when all the shots piled up in the four-foot circle? That’s about how the fourth end went. Eve Muirhead had one easily enough but couldn’t fit her last shot onto a narrow sliver of the button for two. That’s a good force for Japan.
3-1 GB after four ends; Japan has hammer.
Alpine team event: UPSET! USA into the semifinal with a win over Italy.
And the funny thing -- the only US skier to lose was Mikaela Shiffrin. But that’s deceiving. The blue course is clearly a little faster, and Shiffrin lost her heat by only 0.02 seconds.
Paula Moltzan had that blue course and kicked things off with a massive 0.56-second win over giant slalom silver medalist and combined bronze medalist Italy’s Federica Brignone.
The big break for the US was in the second heat. Tommy Ford is, by any reckoning, the least accomplished skier on the team, and he’s 13 months removed from a catastrophic crash. But Luca de Aliprandini went off course, and Ford coolly finished for a 2-0 lead.
Shiffrin lost a back-and-forth heat on the slower course, but that just left River Radamus to clean up with an easy win.
Alpine team event: Can Norway add another medal here? It’s possible. The fourth-seeded team wins the tiebreaker over fifth-seeded France.
Austria easily took out Slovenia.
Next up: USA-Italy.
Bobsleigh: Francesco Friedrichs is in good shape to finish off his double-double -- two-man and four-man in 2018 and 2022. But it’s still close. Fellow German Johannes Lochner, who set the track record in the first run and still holds it, is only 0.20 seconds back heading into the fourth and final run.
In position for bronze is Justin Kripps of Canada, who shared the four-man gold with Friedrichs in 2018. He gave back a little bit of time in the third run and will need a solid final trip down the ice to prevent a German sweep, with Christoph Hafer in close pursuit. Not literally. Putting multiple sleds on this track seems like a bad idea.
Team GB’s Brad Hall is still in sixth and doesn’t seem likely to move up or down.
Curling: The two teams crowd the center line until the two vices (third players to shoot), Chinami Yoshida and Vicky Wright, exchange double takeouts. Yoshida hits remaining GB rock, but it rolls to a spot in which Wright can through yet another double takeout. And so she does, leaving the house empty except for one GB rock.
Skip rocks: Takeout, takeout, takeout, takeout with a roll out of the house. That’s a blank.
2-1 GB after three ends; GB has hammer
Alpine team event: The round of 16 (actually 15, with a bye for Austria) is complete. Canada is out, losing on the tiebreaker to Slovenia. Fourth-seeded Norway survived a sloppy tie with Poland, winning on tiebreak despite two DNFs.
The top eight all advanced. Next up for the USA: third-ranked Italy.
Bobsleigh: The Germans are winning.
Curling: Catching up on the second end -- GB keeps putting up center guards, and Japan targets them with varying success.
Fujisawa then plays a spiffy double takeout, leaving a GB stone on the button but fully exposed while a Japanese stone is farther out, in position to count for two.
But Muirhead hits a truly excellent shot, taking out the Japanese rock and rolling to the button. That leaves two GB rocks crowding the center with no Japanese rocks in the house, and all Fujisawa can do is hit one to score a single point with hammer.
(One more basic curling point: The goal when you have hammer is usually to score two or more points. If you’re not going to get that, you may try to “blank” an end -- intentionally getting rid of all the remaining stones in the house and in your hand -- to keep the hammer for the next end. If the other team forces you to score one point, that’s called a “force.” What we just saw was a force.)
2-1 GB after two ends; GB has hammer.
Alpine team event: His result flew a little under the radar, but the USA’s River Radamus placed fourth in the giant slalom. He takes an early lead and wins his heat when Slovakia’s Andres Zampa misses a gate.
Next: Paula Moltzan breezes to victory. 3-0 USA, and they’ve advanced to the quarterfinals.
Alpine team event: It’s the USA vs. Slovakia, and the first US skier is none other than Mikaela Shiffrin, who gets a good start and looks as smooth as can be. No missed gates, no problem. 1-0 USA.
Curling: Beautiful shot by Japanese vice Chinami Yoshida to bury a red rock behind the multitude of guards out front, but Vicki Wright goes bang-bang up the middle (promotion takeout or raise or runback in curling lingo) to remove it.
Satsuki Fujisawa’s first shot drifts a bit too far, and Eve Muirhead puts her shot right on top of that one. That means GB is closer, but because it’s behind the tee line (the line bisecting the house from left to right), Fujisawa can respond in kind. The Japanese skip gives it a try, but it doesn’t quite curl enough and Muirhead has a shot for two.
(I’m going to dial back on the definitions from henceforth. I assume everyone has the hang of it by now.)
Muirhead makes the shot with ease. 2-0 GB after one end.
Curling: GB has the hammer (last shot). Japan opts to put its first rock in the house instead of putting up a guard. GB’s Hailey Duff easily removes that one. Japan plays its own takeout, and GB decides to ignore that one to play the conventional shot for a team with hammer, a corner guard, behind which they deposit rocks that will be difficult to remove.
NBC then does its traditional lengthy commercial interruption during the middle of an end, but we have ways of seeing what happened Basically, it’s a constellation of rocks in front of the house, which is kind of bad for GB, especially given the red Japanese rock sitting in the back of the house
Curling: Here we go!
After taking bronze in 2014 and fourth in 2018, Eve Muirhead is back again representing the birthplace of the game, Scotland, which specializes in inventing sports that torture the rest of the world. She’s also the 2013 world champion.
Alpine team event: It’s minus-3 degrees. Fahrenheit. And windy, though not enough to postpone it again -- which is good, because there’s not another day to which it may be postponed.
The format: Skiers race head-to-head on parallel courses. Each team has two men and two women. Most wins ... um ... wins. If they’re tied, the combined time of the fastest man and fastest woman determines the winner.
The courses are short giant slalom-ish layouts.
Medal count check: Looks like Norway won’t match its record medal haul of 39 unless it sweeps the cross-country event and reaches the podium in Alpine. They may just have to settle for the record for gold medals -- 15.
Canada (25 medals) is virtually assured of finishing ahead of the USA (24) in total medals, but the USA leads in gold medals 8-4 (pending the figure skating team event).
Ready for February Madness? That’s the Alpine team event, which uses a bracket system for head-to-head matchups. It’s a bit shorter than the Big Basketball Tournament in March.
As we bid farewell to these most unusual Olympics, please share your favorite and least favorite moments. Or just some offbeat thought. Or some sport you’d like to see added. Email me with your thoughts or tweet @duresport
For one last time (for these Olympics), hello from me (Beau Dure) to you (the other billions of people on the planet).
We’ll soon have the Alpine team event, which was rescheduled and moved to this date and time. It’ll be Mikaela Shiffrin’s last chance at a medal here, but it’s a slim one.
In four-man bobsleigh, Canada’s Justin Kripps is currently interrupting a German sweep, while Team GB’s Brad Hall sits sixth and has an outside chance of getting on the podium. A little later, we’ll have the traditional finales of a cross-country long-distance race and the men’s hockey final.
But you’re all here for curling. As you should be, and I’m not just saying that because I spent nine hours in a curling club today. (First two shots were like Niklas Edin. The rest were like Homer Simpson.)
Can Eve Muirhead get Team GB its first and surely only gold of these Olympics? Or will Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa, the bronze medalist in 2018, spring another surprise?
Coming up today
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Sydney it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Francisco is -16 hours.
- 9.00am Alpine skiing - the team event🥇
- 9.05am Curling – the women’s gold medal match: Great Britain v Japan 🥇
- 9.30am and 11.20am Bobsleigh – the final two runs of the four-man competition 🥇
- 12.10pm Ice hockey – the men’s gold-medal match, Finland v almost defending champions Russian Olympic Committee. In 2018 the competition was won by the ‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’ team, as the Russian Olympic Committee was suspended at that point due to doping violations. 🤔
- 2.30pm Cross-country skiing– women’s 30km mass free start 🥇
- 8pm Closing ceremony – Oh, that’s it. Done.