Sunday’s competition will feature seven medal events at the 2022 Beijing Olympics: Cross-Country Skiing (Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon), Freestyle Skiing (Women’s Moguls), Luge (men’s singles), Ski Jumping (men’s normal hill individual), Snowboard (women’s slopestyle), Speed Skating (men’s 5000m) and Alpine Skiing (men’s downhill).
It will be a chance for the United States to get on the podium for the first time after being shut out during Friday’s slate of events.
There was good news on the COVID front as bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor was cleared to leave isolation after two negative tests.
DAY 1 SHUTOUT: Americans have nothing to show for first full day in Beijing
TV SCHEDULE: How and what to watch each day of the Beijing Olympics
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WINTER OLYMPICS 2022: Answering 10 major questions for the Beijing Games
Ratings for opening ceremony plummet
NBC’s broadcast of the opening ceremony from Beijing drew an all-time low Friday, averaging just 16 million viewers from the U.S. audience, according to the network. The number includes viewership on its entire menu of networks and streaming services, per the early projections.
That’s a massive 43% ratings drop from the 2018 opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, which drew 28.3 million viewers.
There are several reasons that could explain the weak numbers to start these Olympics.
Excitement around these Games has been muted in the U.S. due to the controversy surrounding host country China. The U.S. is one of several governments to stage a diplomatic boycott over human rights issues, including what they have called a genocide occurring against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities in the Xianjing region.
Another potential factor working against NBC is viewer fatigue. Because the Tokyo Games scheduled for 2020 were delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the second Olympics within six months.
It’s also likely that time zone issues have played a role. This is the third straight Olympics in Asia, which means live coverage mostly occurs either early in the morning or overnight for American audiences. The smaller audience for the Beijing opening ceremony was foreshadowed by what occurred in Tokyo, when NBC’s preliminary figures showed an audience of 17 million.
These are still large television audiences for Friday night primetime viewing windows in the U.S. but disappointing compared to previous Games. NBC paid $7.75 billion in 2014 to extend its exclusive broadcast rights of the Olympics until 2032.
— Dan Wolken
US tabs veterans on Day 2 of team figure skating
BEIJING — The U.S. entered Day 2 of the figure skating team event in first place. And it turned to a pair of experienced skaters in hopes that they’ll keep pace.
Veteran Karen Chen was selected to skate the women’s short program over first-time Olympians Mariah Bell and Alysa Liu. Chen, 22, placed 11th at the 2018 Olympics and fourth at the 2017 and 2021 world championships.
On the men’s side, Vincent Zhou was tapped to skate the long program and attempt to build on the performance of Nathan Chen, who set a personal best with his short program Friday morning. Zhou’s long program is set to music from the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
The team competition will conclude Monday.
— Tom Schad
US counting on Chen to stay close with Russia
BEIJING — Karen Chen doesn’t need to be spectacular when she skates in the figure skating team competition Sunday morning, she just needs to be steady. But spectacular wouldn’t be bad.
With the United States holding a surprising lead after the first day of the figure skating team competition, Chen will be the first American on the ice Day 2, competing in the women’s short program. Her goal is to stay as close as she possibly can to Russia’s Kamila Valieva in the team short program. Valieva will be expected to win this portion of the competition. How good are the Russians? Their three women are expected to sweep the medals in the individual competition later in the Olympics.
With the United States ahead of Russia, 28-26, if Chen were to finish in the top three, she would ensure that Team USA would still be at least tied with Russia. (First place is worth 10 points, second place 9, and so on.) A second-place finish and the USA would still be ahead going into the men’s long program, the other event Sunday.
The competition ends Monday with the pairs and women’s long programs and the free dance.
— Christine Brennan
White soaking up every moment of final Olympics
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Shaun White has been relishing the small parts — the last opening ceremony, the last time checking out the halfpipe and, soon, his last Olympic runs.
White affirmed what seemed likely: his fifth Winter Games will be his last snowboarding competition entirely, the last time anyone could see the three-time gold medalist on the stage that he had used to help grow his sport.
“For me, this has all had this amazing glow to every single decision, every single competition because this will be my last Olympics,” White said Saturday. “I’m just so excited about everything. Opening ceremony was incredible. The venue looks incredible. Just enjoying every single moment.”
White said the decision became evident while training in Austria in the lead-up to these Games. He had called off training because of a lingering ankle injury, had pain in his knee despite surgery to repair it and had tweaked his back working out.
— Rachel Axon
Olympic teams raise concerns over quarantine hotels
BEIJING — Not enough food. Inedible meals. No training equipment. Some Olympic athletes unlucky enough to test positive for the coronavirus at the Beijing Olympics feel their quarantine conditions are making a bad situation much worse.
“My stomach hurts, 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,” Russian biathlon competitor Valeria Vasnetsova posted on Instagram from one of Beijing’s so-called quarantine hotels.
Her problem wasn’t with any symptoms of the virus. It was the food.
— Associated Press
Anderson seeks third consecutive gold in slopestyle snowboarding, two other Americans try for medals
BEIJING — Snowboarder Jamie Anderson is in fifth place after the snowboard slopestyle qualification, leading the way for the U.S. women. The two-time reigning and defending gold medalist scored a 74.35 on her first run, good for a second-place ranking. Her next run was clean until the final moments when she fell.
“I definitely was hoping to get that second run, but I’ll take what I can get,” Anderson told NBC. “I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Fellow American Julia Marino redeemed herself on her second run with a score of 71.78 and sixth place. Rounding out the Americans competing in the final is Hailey Langland in ninth after a clean second run that scored a 68.71. The top 12 advance.
Team USA’s Courtney Rummel finished 18th with a best score of 48.30 and will miss the final.
The final is scheduled to begin Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
— Alex Ptachick
Men’s downhill skiing tries again for training run after cancellation due to wind
BEIJING — It’s tough to learn a new downhill course when you can’t ski it.
The third and final training run for the men’s downhill was canceled after just three skiers Saturday because of wind gusts. The forecast for Sunday’s race is more promising, referee Markus Waldner said.
“Two hours before we started at 11 it was good enough to go — similar to yesterday. Also, during the forerun — we had five forerunners — it was good enough to go. Safe,” Waldner said. “But then, suddenly, wind gusts were coming. … (We decided) this is dangerous. It’s unpredictable. We cannot handle this.”
The decision was criticized by some skiers, who already felt they were at a disadvantage because no one had been on the course until the first training run Thursday. There also were complaints that the three skiers who did get a run in, one of whom was gold-medal favorite Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, will have an advantage in Sunday’s race.
“Of course I can accept all this criticism coming from the racers, some coaches, that this is an advantage for the three racers,” Waldner said. “But this is force majeure. We’re an outdoor sport, force majeure, and we make always decisions in terms of safety.
“Due to safety we made this decision, very simple.”
Normally, skiers are able to familiarize themselves with the Olympic course at test events ahead of the Games, but those were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Thursday the first time they could ski the course, many used their initial training run to simply take mental stock, noting the terrain, turns and jumps on the run. The remaining two runs would then be used to build speed and find areas where they could be aggressive.
But they’ll have to make do with what they got Thursday and Friday.
Bryce Bennett, the top-ranked American in the downhill this season, said he didn’t have a problem with the decision to cancel. In some ways, he said, it worked out better.
“For me, personally, three training runs is difficult. I think it’s too much,” Bennett said. “You kind of get lackadaisical.
“We got some good inspections,” he added. “I got two inspections today, and I think it’ll work out for the better, hopefully, tomorrow. Pray to God I don’t get a headwind. Praying for a tailwind.”
— Nancy Armour
US beats China in mixed doubles curling; Czech Republic and Switzerland up next
BEIJING — The U.S. mixed doubles curling team picked up another key win Saturday, defeating host China 7-5, roughly 24 hours after squeaking out a win over Sweden.
With those two victories, the team of Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys moved to 3-2 at the midway point of round-robin play. They are now sitting in a tie for fourth place out of 10 teams, with four matches to go.
The top four teams advance to the semifinal round.
Persinger and Plys’ next match against Canada at 7:05 a.m. ET will be particularly pivotal, with the neighboring countries now tied for that fourth and final spot. The U.S. will then face the Czech Republic and Switzerland on Sunday, and Great Britain on Monday.
— Tom Schad