The Olympic flame is officially ablaze after nearly three thousand athletes from all around the world have made their way to Beijing, kicking off the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. As we launch into the 100+ action-packed sports and disciplines taking the stage this year from alpine skiing to speed skating, here’s my in-depth guide to some of the most interesting events and faces at this year’s games.
— BOBSLEDDING —
Event Overview: Bobsledding, a smaller division of bobsleigh, is an event in which teams of two or four propel a sled down an ice track, climb in, and race other teams to the bottom for the fastest time. As a result of the sled’s shape and the configuration of the members inside the sled, many of the sleds are able to reach up to 90 miles per hour on the track.
Who to Watch For: Elana Meyers Taylor and Josh Williamson of Team USA are two athletes to keep an eye on. Taylor, an Olympic veteran from the games in 2010, 2014, and 2018, is hoping to bring home another medal this year. Williamson, a new face of the men’s team, is set to compete in the two and four man sled races while in Beijing.
Competitors: Switzerland and Germany both have historically dominated the sport, and will likely pose the biggest challenge for Team USA in the bobsled competition.
When to Watch: Bobsleigh and all its smaller divisions will begin competing on Thursday, February 10th, and will finish on Sunday, February 20th.
What Athletes Have Been Saying on Social Media: Both Taylor and Williamson from Team USA have been documenting their world championships and moments leading up to being named for the Olympic team. They both recently tested positive for COVID-19, Taylor in Beijing and Williamson in the United States. Taylor has now been cleared to compete after two negative tests, but Williamson is still testing positive, hoping to be let out of isolation in time for his event.
— FIGURE SKATING —
Event Overview: Figure skating and it’s many subcategories are once again making an appearance as one of the most popular events in the Olympic Games. From individual events to ice dancing, and short programs to long programs, competitors execute jumps, stunts, and choreography for a panel of judges to earn the highest technical and element scores.
Who to Watch For: A returning Olympian and well-known name in the figure skating world, Nathan Chen is competing in the team event alongside Jason Brown and Vincent Zhou in Beijing. Mariah Bell, coached by former Olympian Adam Rippon, is a first-time Olympian this year, and makes history at 25 years old as the oldest woman in figure skating in nearly 100 years. Two of the most memorable faces of the Rhythm Dance event are three-time world medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue of Team USA.
Competitors: China, Japan, and ROC all likely pose the biggest challenge on the ice in Beijing.
When to Watch: The skating events have already begun at the winter games, and will continue intermittently through February 19th, alternating between team events, ice dancing, and singles skating.
What Athletes Have Been Saying on Social Media: Most of the well-known Team USA athletes in the sport have been documenting their journeys leading up to the Olympics, thanking their friends and family for their support and this amazing opportunity. Nathan Chen’s February 4th program has already helped Team USA to head into the Women’s short program on Sunday with a significant lead over ROC, China, and Japan.
— HOCKEY —
Event Overview: Hockey is a well-known and loved sport in many countries for its constant action and daring athletes. At the Olympic level, players compete in teams against other nations, skating around and scoring goals to secure the win.
Who to Watch For: Hilary Knight is a former member of both the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and National Women’s Hockey League, now playing the position of forward on Team USA. A returning Olympian from Vancouver’s Winter Games in 2010, Knight has already helped the team to secure a win over ROC in the Women’s tournament. Drew Helleson, a member of the US Men’s team in Beijing, is seeing his first Olympic Games at the age of 20 after being drafted by the Colorado Avalanche and playing defense for Boston College.
Competitors: Canada, Sweden, Russia, and Finland are all historically successful in this sport, and will be the biggest countries to watch alongside the USA during the games this year.
When to Watch: Hockey events are one of the longest-running in the Olympic Games this year, having started on February 3rd and continuing daily through February 20th.
What Athletes Have Been Saying on Social Media: Hilary Knight has been especially vocal about her arrival in Beijing and first events on social media over the past few days, sharing photos of her and her team, the events themselves, and even how she’s passing time in the Olympic village. The USA hockey Instagram has been posting updates before and after each event as well, and is showing their support for the women’s team heading into the first few events.
— SNOWBOARDING —
Event Overview: A fan favorite for its numerous events in the Winter Games including halfpipe, big air, and slopestyle, snowboarding has no shortage of exciting moments. Competitors face off against one another in single-person events, dodging obstacles and racing for the fastest time and the most tricks to secure the gold.
Who to Watch For: Two of the biggest names in the snowboarding world, Shaun White and Chloe Kim, are returning to the Olympic Games this year. A five-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist in the games, Shaun White has announced that this will be his final competition, but plans to give the games in Beijing everything he has. Chloe Kim, a member of the women’s team, is making her second appearance at the Winter Olympics, her first being in the 2018 Pyeongchang games when she was just 17. This year, at age 21, Kim faces off in the halfpipe events on February 9th and 10th.
Competitors: Snowboarding has already begun in Beijing, and the top competitors for the gold include the United States, Norway, Canada, and Australia.
When to Watch: The various snowboarding events at the games are running from February 5th to February 15th this year, beginning with slopestyle and ending with big air.
What Athletes Have Been Saying on Social Media: Both Chloe Kim and Shaun White have been fairly active on Instagram since being officially named as members of Team USA, and have expressed their excitement to be competing in their respective events, posting photos from past Olympics and the locations of the events this year.
From athlete coverage, to NBC’s highlights, to new names and events making their debut, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games are sure to be exhilarating and adrenaline-inducing, bringing some fun competition and exciting events to the stage in the face of COVID. All Olympic events and highlights over the next two weeks are being streamed live on Peacock and NBC, so sit back and enjoy the games!