Beijing’s Winter Olympics are just two days old but they’re already under fire from athletes who have roasted the hosts for “inhumane” conditions. Follow all the day three action
History was on the line for Mikaela Shiffrin in Beijing and it all went catastrophically wrong at the worst possible moment.
The American was looking to become the most decorated Alpine skier in history in the women’s Giant Slalom.
Seven years after she first tasted Olympic success, Shiffrin was looking to claim her 73rd victory in all disciplines as a skier.
Having overcome a rough build up to Beijing, contracting Covid just six weeks ago, the American was in trouble early on her run and went too wide after only a handful of gates.
Unable to recover, her bid was over in what will go down as one of the biggest upsets of the Olympics.
A back injury and 10 days spent in isolation after contracting Covid-19 also did not help her preparations, Shiffrin added.
“I will never get over this,” she said. “I’ve never gotten over any. “I’m not going to cry about this because that’s just wasting energy. My best chance for the next races is to move forward, to refocus and I feel like I’m in a good place to do that.
“I don’t know about the medals, but I know my skiing is good and I know that even my GS skiing is good… But you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
“I’m going to do my very best to keep the right mentality and keep pushing and that’s it.”
It is a hammer blow for Shiffrin, who also won slalom gold at the 2014 Sochi Games, and the 26-year-old will now have to quickly refocus on Wednesday’s slalom.
The American had complained before the race that she had had just two days of giant slalom training in the three months between the World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria, and the meet in the French resort of Courchevel in December.
“I got the bulk of my GS training for the entire season in the last four days here in Beijing,” she said.
“That’s not ideal but I think my skiing’s in a pretty good place.”
‘INHUMANE’: OLYMPIC ATHLETES SLAM CHINA CONDITIONS
Athletes have gone into meltdown as there were complaints about food, the bitterly cold weather and inhumane isolation rooms at the Winter Olympics.
Day two of the Beijing Games saw competitors and officials rant and rave about the facilities and conditions they were subjected to in the Chinese capital.
First it was Germans who made their feelings known about the lack of decent catering at the Alpine course near Yanqing.
This followed the decision to cancel the blue riband men’s downhill on Sunday due to high winds and move it back to the Monday instead.
Skiing coach Christian Schwaiger moaned: “The catering is extremely questionable because really it’s not catering at all.
“I’d have expected that the Olympic Committee would be capable of providing hot meals.
“There are no hot meals. There are crisps, some nuts and chocolate and nothing else. This shows a lack of focus on high-performance sport.”
Some had come prepared and the USA team had the foresight to bring along camping food – like bags of pasta – that needed hot water to make a meal.
Next up the Swedes called on skiing chiefs to start cross-country races earlier in the day to protect their stars from the freezing temperatures and biting, brisk winds.
It has been about -20C degrees in the mountains of Zhangjiakou, some 200 km north-west of Beijing.
Races are generally being held late afternoon to make it easier for European audiences to watch.
Swedish team boss Anders Bystroem groaned: “We have the cold limits we have, there is not much to say about that. I do not know if they also measure the wind effect.
“If FIS says it’s -17 degrees and it’s windy, and it’s -35 degrees with the wind chill, what do you do then?”
“The women’s skiathlon on Saturday at 4pm and Frida Karlsson was completely destroyed by the cold. It’s not good that the sprint starts even later.
“We have talked in the team about making a request (to race earlier) during the day if it’s possible.
“At the same time I don’t think it will be possible to change the time because of the Olympic schedule.”
Then the Russians and Finns got on their soapboxes to air grievances about the quarantine conditions for those who test positive for Covid.
It is believed more than 360 Games participants, including 142 athletes and national staff, have tested positive upon arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport.
Athletes who test positive but without symptoms go to a dedicated hotel for isolation.
Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms will be immediately hospitalised.
In both cases, they will be able to compete once they have tested negative on successive days.
Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted on Instagram from one of the city’s so-called quarantine hotels that her “stomach hurts” from a lack of quality food being delivered.
She said: “I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired.”
Meanwhile, the coach of the Finnish men’s ice hockey team accused China of not respecting a player’s human rights.
The Finnish Olympic team say Marko Anttila – formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks – had tested positive 18 days ago but produced several negative results prior to departure.
Head coach Jukka Jalonen blasted: “Marko has been with our team for about a week before we came here and he tested negative.
“He was with the players and with the coaching staff that week and nobody got any infection from him or from anybody else.
“We know that he’s fully healthy and ready to go and that’s why we think that China, for some reason, they won’t respect his human rights and that’s not a great situation.”
The IOC statement read: “We are aware of the complaints raised by some athletes, particularly with regard to food temperature, variety and portion size.
“The issues are currently being addressed together with Beijing 2022 and the respective management of the facilities concerned.
“We feel for every athlete who cannot compete because of a Covid-19 infection.
“The protocols have been put in place to ensure safe Olympic Games for everyone.
“All the cases are managed in full accordance with the rules stated in the Playbooks and in the adjustments which were made to the protocols.”
AUSSIE’S DISGUSTION SUPERSTITION REVEALED
Tess Coady won Australia’s first medal at the Winter Olympics and then shared her dirty superstitions with the world.
Coady claimed bronze in the women’s slopestyle snowboarding on Saturady night scoring 82.68 on her first run and held on to third spot heading into the final round, where she consolidated with an 84.15.
Speaking to Channel 7 days after her win, Coady sahred her pre-run superstitions which she may live to regret telling the world.
“I am so superstitious, people think I’m kind of crazy but is not really stuff at the top (of the mountain), it is more night before that kind of thing.
“The right sock always goes on first, the day the world end it will be all my fault because I will put my left sock on first.
“But I also have a thing where I never wash my thermals when I start doing competitions so it through the training days and all the competition I don’t wash my thermals.
“If we have got a long competition session going on it is pretty smelly.
“But yeah, just weird stuff like that. I don’t know why it is but I just don’t want to try anything different because it is working for me.”
PANDA SHORTAGE STRIKES GAMES
Beijing Winter Olympics organisers have admitted they failed to produce enough panda souvenirs to keep up with demand.
Bing Dwen Dwen, a cuddly panda on ice skates, is the official mascot of the Beijing Games – but people in China are being turned away disappointed from gift shops.
Zhao Weidong, a spokesman for the local organising committee, blamed the shortage on the Lunar New Year holiday in China.
“The supply of licensed products has been affected by that,” he said.
“We are now making efforts in coordinating the production and supply of Bing Dwen Dwen.”
The Beijing Games are taking place in a vast “closed loop” designed to fight the coronavirus.
There have been more than 363 positive cases in the bubble since January 23, according to the latest figures, among them an unknown number of competitors.
The nearly 3,000 athletes are cocooned along with tens of thousands of volunteers, support staff and journalists. Everyone inside the bubble must wear face masks and take daily Covid tests.
“Super-proud” snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott made history on Sunday after winning New Zealand’s first ever Winter Olympic gold but the men’s downhill skiers were forced to wait 24 hours for their chance.
Seven golds were up for grabs on the second full day of competition in Beijing. Seven became six when the men’s downhill — one of the most closely watched events at any Winter Olympics — was postponed until Monday because of gusty winds.
Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde — one half of skiing’s golden couple with American Mikaela Shiffrin — will be hot favourite.
Sadowski Synnott, 20, held her nerve to take the women’s snowboard slopestyle title with the last run of the competition.
“Honestly it’s absolute disbelief but it probably means more to me to win New Zealand’s first Winter Olympic gold,” said Sadowski Synnott, who was born in Sydney and moved to New Zealand when she was six.
“It makes me super proud to be a Kiwi.” Sadowski Synnott, who spent Covid lockdown jumping on a trampoline to help her aerial awareness, launched into a massive jump with her final trick to earn a winning score of 92.88.
She was mobbed by silver medallist Julia Marino of the USA and Tess Coady of Australia, who won bronze.
New Zealand had previously won one silver and two bronze medals at the Winter Olympics — including a third-place finish for Sadowski Synnott in the Big Air competition at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
Cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov became the first Russian to win an Olympic title at these Games — but not for Russia.
Punished for mass doping at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, the Russians must compete under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
Such was his dominance of the 15-kilometre-plus-15-kilometre skiathlon, Bolshunov had time to wave at the TV cameras long before the race had finished.
He took umbrage afterwards at questions about Russia’s doping-tainted past in cross-country skiing.
“You don’t just become an Olympic champion all of a sudden,” fumed Bolshunov, who won his first gold, adding to three previous silvers and a bronze.
“As for doping, when I hear those words, it honestly turns me inside out. I do not accept that and when I hear those words, I don’t even want to hear them.”
Clocking 133 kilometres (83 miles) per hour, Germany’s Johannes Ludwig thundered to gold in the men’s luge after holding off a challenge from Austria’s Wolfgang Kindl.
Georgian athlete Saba Kumaritashvili failed to make the luge final — but he was competing for more than medals.
His cousin Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in the same sport at the 2010 Vancouver Games when his sledge flew off the track in training, hours before the opening ceremony.
“I think about Nodar — I think about him all the time,” said Kumaritashvili.
“After Nodar, I didn’t want luge to die in Georgia, I wanted to keep it going. I wasn’t afraid. I wanted to be in the Olympics to race.”
Ryoyu Kobayashi won ski jumping gold for Japan on the men’s normal hill, holding his nerve while his main title rivals lost theirs.
Kobayashi became the first Japanese ski jumper to win Olympic gold on foreign snow.
Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer was aiming for a fourth gold in four Games at 5,000 metres, but he could only finish ninth as Sweden’s Nils van der Poel took Kramer’s title and his Olympic record.
Originally published as Winter Olympics 2022 live: All the news and action from Beijing