The Winter Olympic Games wrapped up on Sunday in Beijing, bringing to a close that will be best remembered for its extreme COVID-19 restrictions and a Russian doping scandal that threw the women’s figure skating competition into the limelight. Here is a look back at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Medal Count Wrap-up
There were over 300 medals awarded in Beijing over 15 sports and 109 events. The two-week global competition pitted the best athletes in the world against each other competing for gold.Read More »
Taking a Closer Look at the U.S. Gold Medals
The U.S. finished in third place in total gold medals at eight. The winners of those medals were Kaillie Humphries in the women’s monobob, Nathan Chen for men’s figure skating, Alexander Hall for the men’s free ski slope style, Lindsey Jacobellis in women’s snowboard cross, Erin Jackson in the women’s 500-meter speed skating event, Chloe Kim for the women’s snowboard halfpipe, and two team medals for mixed team aerials and mixed team snowboard cross.
Team USA also came away with 10 silver and 7 bronze medals.
Highlights of Closing Ceremonies
A wintry wonderland of snowflakes and lanterns highlighted the Closing Ceremonies. The ceremonies took place at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium on a bitterly cold night in the city. Chinese President Xi Jinping took in the splendor while seated next to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
Red Chinese lanterns set the night aglow as the athletes walked into the stadium to the music of “Ode to Joy.” San Francisco-born skier Eileen Gu garnered some of the loudest cheers of the night when she arrived. While she was born and raised in America, Gu chose to compete for China in these games, winning two golds and one silver for the host country.
American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor was chosen to carry the U.S. flag into the ceremony. While she had been elected to carry the flag for the opening ceremony, she had to pass after she tested positive for COVID-19 just prior to the start of the Games. Meyers Taylor won the silver medal in the monobob event as well as a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled.
As part of the ceremony, Bach transferred the Olympic flag to the mayors of the Italian cities of Milan and Cortino to signify the passing of the torch to the hosts of the upcoming 2026 Winter Games.
Russian Figure Skating Scandal
Years from now, this Olympic Games will likely be best remembered for the Russian figure skating doping scandal. 15-year-old Kamila Valieva was put under the microscope after it was revealed that she had failed a doping test at her national championship event last December. This revelation came on February 8, just one day after her performance on the ice helped her Russian Olympic Committee team win the gold in the team event.
After days of speculation, officials decided that Valieva could compete in the women’s figure skating event, however, it was still uncertain if they would allow her to take the medal stand if she finished in the top three. Valieva skated an impressive short program, taking a commanding lead heading into the longer free skate portion.
A series of tumbles on the ice sent Valieva down to fourth place in the final medal stands. It was clear that the pressure and the controversy had got to the young teen figure skater.
The ongoing scandal sparked a number of discussions surrounding if the Olympics are appropriate for athletes this young in addition to more debate about doping.
COVID-19 Restrictions Put Damper on Games
It was impossible to ignore the ever-reaching effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the Games. Just six months after the Summer Olympics were contested after a one year delay, the organizers of the Beijing Games imposed even stricter regulations due to the virus.
Dozens of athletes saw their Olympic dreams dashed after testing positive for the virus just ahead of their scheduled competition. By the end of the Games, the organizers had recorded 437 infections traced to the event. While over 180 athletes and officials tested positive after arriving in Beijing, the Games were able to go on with no significant disruptions to the schedule.
Beijing was able to keep disruptions at bay by instituting a strict closed loop system that went into effect in the city weeks before the Games began. Over 1.8 million COVID-19 tests were administered throughout the entirety of the Games and the weeks leading up to the event. Athletes and coaches were also required to stay in their rooms when they were not competing or training.
In addition, masks and contract tracing measures were mandatory for everyone involved in the Games. There were also very few spectators allowed at the Games. Although the 2022 Olympics were distinguished as being the most watched Winter Games in history due to a prolific television and online presence, only 150,000 people in total were in attendance in-person