The Americans missed the podium Friday at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but the drought quickly ended on Saturday.
(Miss something? Get caught up on all of Friday’s action right here.)
The men’s freeski halfpipe final gave the U.S. its best chance for a medal Saturday, and the Americans capitalized as David Wise and Alex Ferreira claimed the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
In the men’s mass start, speedskater Joey Mantia narrowly missed out on a bronze medal, finishing fourth in a photo finish.
If there’s anyone in need of redemption it’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who has struggled mightily in Beijing. But her final chance for a medal will have to wait, as the mixed team parallel Alpine skiing event was postponed due to high winds.
Kaillie Humphries, who earlier won gold in the monobob, will attempt to win her fourth gold medal of her career. She won two while competing for Canada. But she’ll have to make up ground in runs three and four of the two-woman event. American teammate Elana Meyers Taylor, who won silver in the monobob, is third after runs one and two.
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MEDAL COUNT: How every country has performed at the Beijing Games
BEIJING – The podium for two-man bobsled appears to be set even before the last run.
Elana Meyers Taylor solidified her hold on the bronze medal in the third run while Germany’s Laura Nolte, the leader at the midway point, widened her lead on Mariama Jamanka, her teammate and the reigning Olympic champion. Meyers Taylor is 1.17 seconds behind Nolte and 0.39 seconds behind Jamanka, gaps that are likely too big to overcome without significant mistakes by the Germans.
Meyers Taylor leads Christine de Bruin of Canada by 0.72 seconds, also likely too big a margin to be overcome.
It would be the fifth Olympic medal for Meyers Taylor and second of these Games. She won silvers as a driver in 2014 and 2018, and has a bronze as a brakeman in 2010. She also won a silver Monday in the inaugural monobob event, with U.S. teammate Kaillie Humphries taking the gold.
Humphries, whose monobob gold was her third overall, fell out of medal contention with another rough outing.
Humphries and Kaysha Love needed to have a near-perfect run just to give themselves a chance at the medals podium, but they didn’t have a strong start and their sled went slightly sideways as they were coming out of a turn midway down the track. They’re in sixth place, more than a second behind Meyers Taylor.
This would be the first Olympic race in which Humphries did not win a medal. She won gold in 2010 and 2014, and was the bronze medalist four years ago in Pyeongchang.
— Nancy Armour
BEIJING — The nine U.S. figure skaters who won silver medals in the team event at the 2022 Winter Olympics want to receive their medals before the conclusion of the Games.
And they have asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to make that happen.
CAS confirmed Saturday that the American skaters filed an appeal with its ad hoc division Saturday that, if successful, would force the International Olympic Committee to award the medals for the team event before Sunday night’s closing ceremony.
A hearing in the case was “currently taking place” as of 7:30 p.m. local time in Beijing, a CAS spokesperson told USA TODAY Sports in an email, and a ruling could come by night’s end.
In a letter sent to the IOC and its president, Thomas Bach, earlier Saturday, an attorney for the American skaters, Paul Greene, argued that the IOC’s decision not to award medals for the event – which came amid news that Russian team member Kamila Valieva had tested positive for a banned substance – runs afoul of both the Olympic charter and the host city contract.
— Tom Schad and Christine Brennan
BEIJING — That close.
Joey Mantia finished fourth Saturday in the men’s mass start (16 laps) in one of the final opportunities for Team USA in Beijing.
Mantia leaned across the finish line in a dead heat with Seung Hoon Les of South Korea but a photo finish determined he finished behind Lee to lose out on the bronze medal. Mantia is challenging the photo finish.
In a way, he felt cheated, saying after the race that Lee pulled ahead at the final (milli)second by slightly pulling Mantia’s arm back.
“It looked like my blade was in front of his right before the line, and his came back in front of mine,” Mantia said. “In my mind, the only way for that to happen is to create momentum forward. That’s not going to happen in one step at the finish line when you started your sprint one lap earlier.
“I’m pretty biased in that situation, obviously. I want that medal. I felt like maybe I was cheated a little bit. I don’t think he did it on purpose. It’s racing.”
Mantia, 36, began his career as an in-line skater in his native Florida. He and women’s 500-meter gold medalist Erin Jackson are both from Ocala, Florida.
Previously, his best individual finish at an Olympics was fourth in the 2018 1,000-meter. In the debut of mass start four years ago, Mantia finished ninth.
— Chris Bumbaca
Music group Heavy Young Heathens filed a lawsuit on Thursday against NBC, U.S. Figure Skating and figure skating pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, saying their copyright for the song “House of the Rising Sun” was violated when the pair used it for their short program earlier this week.
The group, comprised of brothers Robert and Aron Marderosian, are known for their compositions in numerous television shows, movies, trailers, advertisements and video games. One of their compositions, “House of the Rising Sun” is based on a traditional folk song and has been famously used for the film “The Magnificent Seven” and Ford auto commercials.
During the team figure skating event of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Knierim and Frazier used the composition for the short program portion of the event in which the United States won a silver medal.
In the lawsuit first obtained by Reuters, the Marderosian brothers allege they were never contacted by Knierim or Frazier, Team USA or U.S. Figure Skating about licensing the track for their performance. They also allege NBC, USA Network and Peacock never inquired either since it was broadcasted on all mentioned platforms.
The group says they are “entitled to damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”
U.S. Figure Skating told USA TODAY it does not comment on legal matters. USA TODAY has reached out to NBC on the lawsuit.
— Jordan Mendoza
BEIJING — Mikaela Shiffrin is hanging in there until the very end.
The United States is still planning on competing in the team event, which was rescheduled for Sunday morning, and Shiffrin will be part of the squad, U.S. Ski Team spokeswoman Megan Harrod said. High winds forced the postponement of the event Saturday, and many teams were scrambling to change their departure plans.
But Shiffrin had said repeatedly that she wanted to do the team event, a head-to-head, single-bracket elimination competition featuring 15 teams. The Americans ski against Slovakia in the opening round, and would face Italy or Russia if they advance.
The team event will be a chance for Shiffrin to end what has been a disappointing Beijing Olympics on a positive note. Expected to contend for multiple medals here, the two-time Olympic champion did not win any in her individual events.
She recorded Did Not Finishes in the giant slalom, slalom and Alpine combined, her best events. She finished ninth in the super-G and was 18th in the downhill.
“I have literally no idea why we keep coming back and doing it, especially after today,” Shiffrin said Thursday after the combined. “But I’m going to come back out and ski some parallel GS because I’m that much of an idiot. I don’t know why we keep doing it, but making good turns feels amazing.”
The start of the team event was moved up an hour Saturday in anticipation of high winds, only to be delayed twice because of gusts so strong the gondolas briefly stopped running. The forecast for Sunday calls for more wind, though there does appear to be a window mid-morning when the team event could be completed.
No event at the Winter Olympics has been canceled since 1928, Olympic historian Bill Mallon said. The 10,000 meters in men’s speedskating at those Games was halted because the ice was melting, and Mallon said it never resumed.
— Nancy Armour
BEIJING — Team USA still has a chance to add to its medal total – even if it might be a longshot.
Joey Mantia, 36, accrued enough sprint points (six) and went 7:44.37 in the men’s speed skating mass start (16 laps). Mantia, a former inline skater, has experience of racing while surrounded by several bodies. He finished .3 seconds behind the third-place finisher.
“Sprint points” are awarded by place after the fourth, eighth and 12th laps. Those points are worth exponentially more on the final sprint, which is the last lap, ensuring that the first three across the line win gold, silver and bronze, respectively.
Mantia finished in sixth in his semifinal, which was the faster heat between the two races to set up the 16-skater mass start final. The event debuted during the PyeongChang Games four years ago.
Mantia was part of the men’s team pursuit team that won bronze Tuesday in Beijing.
— Chris Bumbaca
BEIJING – The German sleds were dominant in the first half of the four-man bobsled race Saturday, with the two American entries falling into the middle of the pack.
U.S. pilots Hunter Church and Frank Del Duca are currently 13th and 14th, respectively, making it highly unlikely they’ll be able to make up enough time in the final two runs Sunday to get into contention for a medal. Church, after a bumpy ride midway down the track at Yanqing Sliding Center, sits 1.61 seconds off the lead and 1.23 seconds out of third place. Church had the 11th fastest time on the first run.
Del Duca had a relatively clean slide down but did not have enough speed to make up any ground after finishing the first run in 14th place.
German Franceso Friedrich, whose nickname is the “Ice Kaiser,” has the lead with a cumulative time of 1:57.00, leading his teammate Johannes Lochner by .03 seconds. Another German sled piloted by Christoph Hafter is in fourth, .17 seconds behind Canada’s Justin Kripps.
Friedrich is the defending champion in four-man bobsled. He’s also won the two-man bobsled event earlier in these Olympics and tied for the gold medal in 2018 with Kripps.
— Dan Wolken
BEIJING — Mikaela Shiffrin won’t be skiing in the team event Saturday. Nobody will.
High winds forced the postponement of the team event, which features men and women skiers going head-to-head in a single-elimination bracket. Organizers were working to see if rescheduling was an option, but time is running out – the Beijing Olympics end Sunday – and some athletes are already booked on flights home.
The team event was Shiffrin’s last chance for a medal in Beijing. The two-time Olympic champion didn’t make the podium in any of her individual events, recording Did Not Finishes in the giant slalom and slalom and in the slalom portion of the Alpine combined. She finished ninth in the super-G and 18th in downhill.
“I have literally no idea why we keep coming back and doing it, especially after today,” Shiffrin said Thursday after the combined. “But I’m going to come back out (Friday) and ski some parallel GS because I’m that much of an idiot. I don’t know why we keep doing it, but making good turns feels amazing.”
— Nancy Armour
BEIJING – U.S. men’s curling skipper John Shuster, who was chosen as the American flag bearer for the opening ceremony in Beijing, will not get a whirlwind victory tour like he had after 2018. But he’s also unlikely to disappear from our lives.
Though he’s already participated in five Olympic Games, Shuster is just 39 years old. Though it’s hard to say exactly how old is too old for a high-level curler, he has at least proven this much: He’s still among the elite in his sport, he’s still the best the U.S. has to offer, and he’s probably going to be back for a sixth Olympics in 2026.
“I’m still enjoying it,” Shuster said after the U.S. lost to Canada in the bronze-medal match. “I know we’re one of the top teams in the world and representing my country is a tremendous honor. We have total support of our families and that kind of thing, so, yeah, we’ll keep playing.”
Shuster has become synonymous with the re-emergence of curling every four years for the American audience. In a sense, he is the sport in the United States.
The interesting part is how that will evolve over the next few Olympic cycles because the world has undoubtedly pushed curling to places it’s never been before. New powerhouses like 27-year-old Bruce Mouat, who leads the team from Great Britain, are younger and already very, very good. If Shuster wants to make another run at an Olympic medal, the U.S. will have to improve, too.
“You can look at the percentages all the teams are shooting here, it’s just higher,” Shuster said. “The level of play in my five Olympic cycles has only increased every single time. It’s fun, and it’s also frustrating, obviously. But it’s fun to see our sport growing and getting better.”
— Dan Wolken
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Eileen Gu knows she’s going to Stanford in the fall.
Between now and then, well, that’s a lot less clear. Fresh of claiming her third Olympic medal on Friday – a halfpipe gold that wasn’t really in question – Gu didn’t know what her immediate future held.
“I have a lot of big goals coming up in the future, but I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing,” she said. “You guys will have to stay tuned on that one.”
The 18-year-old freeskier has become the biggest star of these Games, winning a gold medal in big air and silver in slopestyle in addition to her halfpipe medal. Not a bad haul for the young Olympian with a bright future.
— Rachel Axon
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — The Olympic freeski halfpipe was kind to the Americans again, even if the weather wasn’t.
David Wise and Alex Ferreira are again going home with medals from the Games, finishing second and third. Four years ago, they took the top two spots, respectively, as Wise won his second Olympic gold in the event.
New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, who won the bronze in 2018, upgraded to gold this time around.
The skiers battled windy and cold conditions in the pipe, but Wise and Ferreira found themselves back on the podium after landing difficult tricks, even if the conditions prevented them from doing more.
American Aaron Blunck, the top qualifier into the finals, suffered a huge crash on his final run in attempt to reach the podium. He was eventually able to ski out of the pipe under his own power.
— Rachel Axon
BEIJING — Canadian freeskier Noah Bowman was the top Canadian after two runs in the men’s freeski halfpipe. The 29-year-old’s success in the sport might be surprising to some who learn that he was actually allergic to the cold.
Yes, you read that right. Bowman had a rare condition called cold urticarial when he was 17, according to Freestyle Canada. He grew out of it a year later, which seems amazing considering he practically grew up on skis, taking up the sport at age 3 with his family.
He took up halfpipe skiing at 14 and in 2012 he won an X Games silver medal. He wasn’t even supposed to compete in the event after being invited as an alternate.
Bowman finished fifth in the halfpipe at the 2014 Sochi Games and four years later in Pyeongchang.
— Roxanna Scott
The Alpine skiing mixed team parallel event has been delayed for at least an hour because of strong winds.
The event features 15 countries with mixed teams of both men and women competing in a bracket style format. Austria has the top seed and has a bye in the first round. The U.S. is the No. 6 seed and faces No. 11 Slovakia in its head-to-head matchup in the first round. Team USA would face the winner of No. 3 Italy vs. No. 14 ROC in the quarterfinals, if it advances. Switzerland is the No. 2 seed and faces host nation China, the No. 15 seed.
The American team features Mikaela Shiffrin, Paula Moltzan and AJ Hurt as the female competitors and Tommy Ford, River Radamus and Luke Winters as the male competitors.
BEIJING – A frustrating but rewarding Olympics will have a cherry on top for U.S. bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor.
The four-time medalist will carry the Red, White and Blue at the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday. She was selected to be a flagbearer with curler John Schuster during the opening ceremony, but tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival in China and missed the event.
“I was so honored to be named the opening ceremony flagbearer, but after not being able to carry the flag, it’s even more humbling to lead the United States at the Closing Ceremony,” Meyers Taylor said in the announcement. “Congratulations to my fellow Team USA athletes on all their success in Beijing – I’m looking forward to carrying the flag with my teammates by my side and closing out these Games.”
Meyers Taylor is now the second athlete to be selected as the opening and closing flagbearer for an Olympics. Bobsled and skeleton athlete Jack Heaton carried the flag in both ceremonies at the 1948 Games in St. Moritz.
Team USA posted a video of her husband, bobsled alternate Nic Taylor, informing her of the news in their hotel lobby Friday before she competed in the two-woman bobsled heats.
“This is your moment!” U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirschland wrote on Twitter. “We are so proud of you!”
Meyers Taylor and her family were isolated for nearly a week. She was open about the mental and physical challenges that presented, but refused to let the deter her training. Meyers Taylor posted videos of her working out in a hotel room. Then she won a silver medal behind teammate Kaillie Humphries in the women’s debut of the monobob and is currently competing in the two-woman bobsled.
— Chris Bumbaca
BEIJING — If all eyes weren’t on Eteri Tutberidze in the aftermath of the Kamila Valieva’s disastrous free skate program, they are now.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach called out Valieva’s “entourage” at a news conference Friday, saying “I was very, very disturbed yesterday when I watched the competition on TV.”
Bach did not name a specific individual, but said it was “chilling” to see how she was received by her camp.
On Thursday, Tutberidze was seen on the broadcast admonishing Valieva as she sat in the kiss-and-cry after her long program.
“Why did you let it go? Explain it to me, why? Why did you stop fighting completely?” Tutberidze said. “Somewhere after the axel you let it go.”
Read all about Tutberidze’s path to becoming a coach.
— Chris Bumbaca
American speedskater Joey Mantia has already checked one item off his Beijing bucket list: capture a medal in the 2022 Olympics. Mantia did that in men’s team pursuit when he teamed with Casey Dawson and Emery Lehman for the bronze earlier this week.
But in his third Olympics, Mantia is seeking one other prize — his first individual speedskating medal.
Mantia will compete Saturday in the men’s mass start, where he is the reigning world champion in the event. He was also the mass start world champ in 2019 and 2017.
A former inline skating world champion, Mantia turned his attention to speedskating in 2010 and in less than three years was competing at a World Cup level on the ice. Now 36, he hopes his third time at the Olympic Games will be the charm.
The U.S. has captured 21 total medals heading into the penultimate day of competition in Beijing to rank fifth in the overall medals table. But Team USA has a good chance to add to their tally with strong medal opportunities in men’s freeski halfpipe and two-man women’s bobsled. Another possible medal could be gained in the mass start in men’s speedskating, where Joey Mantia can become the first American man to win an individual speed skating medal since 2010.
Norway continues to dominate in both overall medals with 34 and golds with 15. The ROC ranks second in total medals with 27, while Canada sits in third with 24. Germany, in fourth with 22 medals, ranks second in the gold tally with 10. The U.S. is fifth in overall medals and tied for third in golds with eight.
BEIJING — Medals will be awarded in pairs figure skating following Saturday’s free skate, and while the U.S. is unlikely to earn its first medal in the event since the 1988 Calgary Games, it did make history in another way.
American Timothy LeDuc, skating with partner Ashley Cain-Gribble, became the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics – a historic step for LGBTQ representation and visibility at the Games.
LeDuc, whose pronouns are they/them, said they wanted it to be the beginning of a shift, a way of showing queer people that they have the opportunity “to be open and be authentic to themselves and everything that makes them unique, and still achieve success in sport.”
LeDuc found a perfect match in 2016 with Cain-Gribble, a former singles skater who has been open about facing body shaming earlier in a career that almost forced her into retirement. LeDuc and Cain-Gribble, who have won two national championships, sit in seventh place heading into the free skate.
— Tom Schad