March 4, 2022 | SPORTS | By Tia Vierling

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing featured death-defying flips, highly technical skiing and snowboarding tricks, and races at mind-boggling speeds. Amidst the concentration of curling and skills on the slalom course were athletes at the top of their game from countries across the globe. Compared to their opponents, how did the United States measure up?

The U.S. shone in men’s individual figure skating, where superstar Nathan Chen earned his first career gold medal. According to CNBC, Chen broke the world record for the short program with his score and landed a total of seven extremely challenging quadruple jumps through his programs. Chen’s lackluster fifth-place spot in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics only makes this gold medal sweeter.

Fan-favorite Chloe Kim placed first in the women’s snowboarding halfpipe in the 2018 Olympics. She was 17 years old, making her the youngest ever to grab the gold in the event. This go around, she came back from an ankle injury to once again stand atop the podium in the halfpipe event. According to Forbes, Kim’s first-run score of 94.00 stayed at the top of the scoreboard for the rest of the event, boosted there by tricks like a frontside 1080 tailgrab and cab 1080 stalefish.

Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis snagged two gold medals, one in the women’s snowboard cross and one in the team snowboard cross. CBS Sports reported that her performance helped her partner in the team event, Nick Baumgartner, become the oldest champion in Olympic snowboarding to date. He is 40 years old.

Jacobellis’ double gold came 12 years after she lost the snowboard cross gold due to a showboating trick that made her stumble at the finish line.

Although he didn’t medal, storied snowboarder Shaun White competed in his final Olympics in style, earning a standing ovation from his peers in respect for his position as a pioneer in the sport.

In women’s speed skating, Erin Jackson made history as the first Black woman from Team USA to land at the top of the podium. Her performance in the 500-meter speedskate was a testament to her strength, speed, and years as an inline skater; according to the Detroit Free Press, she only has roughly four years of ice skating experience.

In the men’s freeski slopestyle event, Alex Hall snagged his first Olympic gold medal while teammate Nick Goepper took silver. In women’s mono-bobsled, the U.S. also snagged the top two spots, with Kallie Humphries taking first and Elana Meyers Taylor sliding into second.

In other notable moments, Team USA took second to Canada in women’s ice hockey, gold in mixed team aerials skiing, and silver in the team figure skating event, the latter of which may be upgraded to a gold, pending the investigation of skater Kamila Valieva for doping.

Overall, NBC Sports reported the U.S. took home eight golds, ten silvers, and seven bronzes, a total of 25 medals. Winter Olympics powerhouse Norway took 37 medals overall (16 gold), the Russian Olympic Committee took 32, Germany 27, and Canada 26, putting Team USA’s performance at 5th overall in these Games.

Although the 5th place finish for the US may seem disappointing to some, the sphere of international competition that the Olympics provides should always be celebrated. More so than anything, the Olympic Games are a testament to our humanity.

What makes us human? Is it our big brains? Our bipedal nature?

I like to think it’s our willingness to strap sticks or blades to our feet and go down steep slopes. Really, really fast.

Leave a Reply