the torch

Record-Breaking Triumphs, Heart-Breaking Failures Highlight Winter Olympics

The 2022 Olympics was full of cheers and tears across the different events

The Olympic flame burns no more. 

It was extinguished for the second time in roughly six months on Sunday, marking the official end of the 2022 Winter Games and concluding what was an unprecedented Olympic cycle. 

Like the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo – the Closing Ceremony for which was held on Aug. 8, 2021 – the Games in Beijing presented unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. From a flagbearer who was unable to walk in the Opening Ceremony, to athletes denied a chance to compete, to limited spectators banned from cheering and many other restrictions.

In true Olympic spirit, the obstacles were overcome as athletes persevered to perform in a two-week global competition on the sporting world’s grandest stage.

Medals were won, tears were shed, stars were born and history was made.

Here are some of the biggest ups and downs of the 2022 Winter Olympics...

Record makers

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be tough to top in Milan, with new records set in figure skating, snowboarding and speed skating.

Norway

Norway entered with the most medals in the history of the Winter Games and then widened the gap. That included setting a new Winter Olympic record with 16 gold medals, led by biathlete Johannes Thingnes Boe, who won four gold and five overall medals. 

Nathan Chen 

U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen not only captured his first gold medal, he did so in record-breaking fashion. The 22-year-old began his quest by setting a men’s short program record with a score of 113.97.

Ireen Wüst 

Netherlands speed skating legend Ireen Wüst became the first Olympian – Winter or Summer – to win an individual gold medal in five Olympic Games, breaking a tie with Michael Phelps and other athletes. The 35-year-old did so after winning the 1500m in a time of 1:53.28 to break the Olympic record.

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong broke the pairs short program record with a score of 84.41. Every bit of it was needed as they went on to earn gold by just 0.63 points, avenging their 0.43-point loss in the 2018 Games.

Chloe Kim

The United States' Chloe Kim became the first woman to win two gold medals in the halfpipe. The 21-year-old defended her title to capture her second straight victory in the event. 

Irene Schouten 

Netherlands speed skater Irene Schouten broke not one, but two records. First the 29-year-old Schouten won gold in the 3000m with a record time of 3:56.93, then days later she won the 5000m event with a time of 6:43.51.

Kaishu Hirano 

Japanese snowboarder Kaishu Hirano reached new heights in the halfpipe, going more than 24 feet above the lip of the pipe to set a world record. He didn't medal, but his brother Ayumu did, winning gold. 

Nils van der Poel 

The second record that Sweden speed skater Nils van der Poel broke was his own. Van der Poel broke the world record in the 10000m with a time of 12:30.74 to top the previous mark of 12:32.95 he set just over a year ago.

Kjeld Nuis 

It was one of the shortest-lived world records in Olympic history. Netherlands speed skater Kjeld Nuis won gold in the men's 1500m after finishing with a time of 1:43.21, breaking the record set just minutes prior by his teammate Thomas Krol, who clocked in at 1:43.55.  

Rewriting History

Erin Jackson 

The United States’ Erin Jackson became the first Black woman to win gold in speed skating after winning the 500m in 37.04 seconds. Jackson, the world’s No. 1 ranked skater in the 500m, became the second Black athlete to win an Olympic medal in speed skating, joining fellow American Shani Davis.

Claudia Pechstein

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein, at 49 years old, became the oldest woman to compete in the Winter Olympics. By doing so, she became the first woman to compete in eight different Winter Games. 

Donovan Carrillo

Mexico’s Donovan Carrillo became the country's first figure skater to advance after scoring a 79.69 in the short program. For Mexico, a country without an Olympic-sized ice rink, Carrillo was its first Olympic skater in three decades. 

Timothy LeDuc 

U.S. figure skater Timothy LeDuc became the first publicly non-binary Winter Olympian while making his debut with partner Ashley Cain-Gribble in the pairs short program. The duo advanced and finished eighth in the free skate. 

Must-Watch Highlights

Records were broken, first medals were won, and comebacks were had all at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Here are five must watch highlights from Beijing. 

Lindsey Jacobellis

An early gold-medal drought at the 2022 Games came to an end when Lindsey Jacobellis won the women's snowboard cross big final. It was also the first career gold medal for the five-time Olympian.

Eileen Gu 

Chinese snowboarder Eileen Gu became the breakthrough star of the 2022 Winter Games by capturing three medals, two of which were gold. The first came when the 18-year-old landed a double cork 1620 to win freestyle big air.

Nathan Chen 

The United States’ Nathan Chen avenged his disappointing performance in the 2018 Games by capturing gold with a stunning performance in the men’s free skate. With a 22.55-point victory, Chen became the seventh American to win men’s singles gold at the Olympics.

Jessie Diggins 

It was a first for the U.S. as Jessie Diggins captured bronze in the cross country skiing individual sprint for the country’s first medal in the event. The 30-year-old finished the race with a time of 3:12.84.

Colby Stevenson 

U.S. skier Colby Stevenson put the finishing touches on a comeback from a near-fatal car accident by winning silver in men’s big air. Stevenson fought for his life after an accident in 2016 that shattered his skull in 30 places. 

Heartbreaking Moments

While dozens of athletes are walking away from the 2022 Winter Games with medals, for others, their time in Beijing will be remembered for crashes, injuries and controversy.

Vincent Zhou ruled out of Olympics due to COVID

Nearly 70,000 people inside the Olympics “closed loop” underwent daily tests for COVID-19. The first day that zero positive tests were produced was Feb. 17, three days before the Closing Ceremony, per the New York Times. U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou was among the first athletes to have their Olympic run cut short after he tested positive and was ruled out of the men’s individual event.  He did win a medal first, and he also watched Netflix for the first time.   

Mikaela Shiffrin skis out

U.S. star and medal favorite Mikaela Shiffrin received a Did Not Finish in three of her five individual events, skiing out of each in stunning fashion. "I don't know if anybody's failed that hard with so many opportunities, maybe in the history of the Olympics,” Shiffrin said.

Kristen Santos crashes out of medal position

U.S. figure skater Kristen Santos entered the 2022 Games on a mission to medal after a heartbreaking near-miss during 2018 qualifiers. She was in position to medal in the 1000m until she was taken down in a late crash that kept her off the podium.

Nina O’Brien suffers injury

Making her Olympic debut, U.S. skier Nina O'Brien crashed during the giant slalom, suffering a compound fracture of her left tibia and fibula. “It wasn’t the Olympics I’d dreamed of, but the dream lives on anyways. Onwards!” she said after returning to the United States.

Kamila Valieva involved in doping scandal

A stunning collapse by 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva in the wake of her involvement in a doping scandal led to a bizarre finish and upsetting scene at the women’s individual free skate. Valieva, who tested positive pre-Games for a banned heart medication, entered the final with the lead but fell multiple times during her free skate to drop to fourth and leave the ice in tears. 

Heartwarming Moments

From four-time Olympian Nick Baumgartner finally winning gold at 40 to Shaun White’s final halfpipe run, these are the most heartwarming moments from the Winter Olympics.

Leif Nordgren meets his daughter

From halfway across the world, USA biathlete Leif Nordgren was introduced to his newborn daughter via FaceTime. Nordgren placed 87th in the men’s individual biathlon competition but said "I think it’s a win no matter what for the home life.”

Ukrainian and Russian celebrate medals with a hug

Rising tensions between two nations wasn’t enough to prevent two Olympians from embracing. After the men’s freestyle skiing aerials final, silver medal winner Oleksandr Abramenko of Ukraine and bronze medal winner Ilia Burov of the Russian Olympic Committee hugged. 

Nick Baumgartner gets a golden chance

A disappointing finish led 40-year-old U.S. snowboarder Nick Baumgartner to break down in tears and say he was “running out of chances.” He got another chance days later, teaming with Lindsey Jacobellis to win a gold medal in mixed team snowboard cross, leading to tears of joy.

Good karma for Brittany Bowe, Erin Jackson

Brittany Bowe refused to go to the 2022 Olympics without her U.S. teammate Erin Jackson. When Jackson, the top-ranked 500m speed skater, slipped during trials and failed to qualify, Bowe gave her initial spot in the event to Jackson. Jackson went on to win gold. Bowe then won bronze in the 1000m.    

Katie Uhlaender makes one final run

Team USA skeleton star Katie Uhlaender competed in what is expected to be her fifth and final Olympics. The 37-year-old was unable to earn her first medal, finishing sixth, but she put the possible finishing touches on an Olympic career to be proud of.   

Sofia Goggia leaves message for Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin received an outpouring of support following her struggles at the 2022 Winter Olympics. She even found words of encouragement written on her skis after borrowing a pair from Italian skier Sofia Goggia, who left a note saying, “You can fly on these skis.”

Shaun White retires

U.S. snowboarding legend Shaun White got a hero's sendoff after the final run of his career. The three-time gold-medal winner was brought to tears after his opponents lined up to give him a standing ovation and some words of appreciation for all he has done for the sport.