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Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 Digest: Neise strikes gold

February 12, 2022

Germany maintained its dominance in the slide events as Hannah Neise shaved 0.59 seconds off the track record on her way to skeleton gold. In other Olympics news, questions over skater Kamila Valieva continue to mount.

Germany's Hannah Neise celebrates winning the women's skeleton gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
Neise celebrates winning the women's skeleton — one of six gold medals for Germany across skeleton and lugeImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's Hannah Neise won the women's skeleton on Saturday, making it six sliding golds out of six at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

German dominance in skeleton and luge has fast become the norm in the Yanqing hills but the skeleton race also brought firsts, as silver-winning Australian Jaclyn Narracott became the first female slider outside of Europe and North America to claim a medal in the sport.

Kimberley Bos of the Netherlands took her country's first skeleton medal with the bronze. 

The last run of the night gave Neise a total time of 4:07.62, 0.62 seconds ahead of the Australian and 0.84 seconds ahead of the Dutchwoman.

It follows her compatriot Christopher Grotheer's gold on Friday, Germany's first ever in the men's event.

"I felt very confident, especially today. I don't know how to describe it," Neise said.

"It means a lot, especially for skeleton sliders. We haven't had so many medals the past years, and we are very proud to represent our country and our federation. It's a step forward for us."

Lindsey Jacobellis and Jacob Baumgartner hold up an American flag
The Beijing Olympics has seen the introduction of several mixed events Image: Yosuke Hayasaka/Yomiuri Shimbun/AP/picture alliance

Jacobellis doubles up

Lindsey Jacobellis completed a rousing late comeback to claim her second gold of the Beijing Games and ensure the United States were crowned as the first-ever Olympic champions in the mixed snowboard cross.

The 36-year-old, who infamously fell styling out a jump in the 2006 Turin Games and lost a huge lead, won the women's event earlier in the week and slipped past Michela Moioli, of Italy, in the final section of the course to double up.

"We came in hot today, we're really excited about it," Jacobellis said after Saturday's race.

Jacobellis was partnered by Nick Baumgartner, who put aside a disappointing 10th-placed finish in the individual event to ride a strong leg before letting his emotions out.

"These tears are so much better than the ones from the other day," he said, adding that riding with Jacobellis took the pressure of him. "I knew if I messed up she could cover for me, but I wanted to prove to everyone what I wanted to prove two days ago. And I did that today."

The format, featuring one man and one woman per team per race, made its Olympic debut amid heavy snow and poor visibility. Italy's Omar Visintin, who took the first leg for his pairing, said watching the closing stages play out was tough.

"It was a good race, so much fun riding today because it was way less tense than two days ago [when he won individual bronze], but being down in the bottom, watching Michela fighting with Lindsey, I was so scared and it was so emotional."

Eliot Grondin and Meryeta Odine of Canada took bronze, with Lorenzo Sommariva and Caterina Carpano of Italy just missing the podium. Odine collided with Carpano but regained her feet to claim her second bronze of the Games.

Gold medals

A sensational final leg from Veronika Stepanova led athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee to gold in the women's 4x5 kilometer relay. Germany led for a large chunk of the race, only for Stepanova to storm past late on.

Despite that, the silver medal will still be considered a success by the German team, who last won a cross country Olympic medal since a bronze back in Sochi 2014. Sweden picked up the bronze this time around.

There was a popular win for China in the 500 meter speedskaing, as Gao Tingyu sealed the country's first gold in the sport, setting an Olympic record on the process.

Johannes Thingnes Boe won gold in the men's 10km biathlon sprint for Norway ahead of Quentin Fillon Maillet, of France. The Frenchman broke up a family affair, with Johannes' brother  Tarje claiming the bronze medal.

There was more success for Norway in the men's large hill ski jumping, with a brilliant final effort from Marius Lindvik holding off the challenge of Ryoyu Kobayashi, of Japan. Germany's Karl Geiger took bronze.

Questions remain over Valieva

The delay in Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, 15, receiving her positive drug test result, which allowed her to compete and win a gold medal at the Beijing Games, continues to be a live issue at the Olympics, with anti-doping officials looking to reinstate her ban.

More than six weeks went by between Valieva's sample being taken on December 25 and February 8, when she was notified by a lab in Stockholm, Sweden that she had tested positive for the banned heart medication trimetazidine. Valieva and her Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team had won a gold medal a day earlier.

The Stockholm lab is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). The ROC and the Russian Anti-Doping Association have questioned the timeline.

On Saturday, the International Olympic Committee said the delay was a question for WADA.

Valieva's suspension, imposed by the ROC, was lifted on appeal. She is due to compete again on Tuesday.

Edited by: Martin Kuebler