The first Winter Olympic medals have been awarded in Beijing, China. Sweden currently leads in gold medals earned with three, while the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) leads in highest total number of medals at seven.
Athletes competing for Team USA have yet to strike gold, instead totaling three silver medals.
The first medalist for Team USA was snowboarder Julia Marino, who earned silver in the Women’s Snowboarding Slopestyle Event. Marino was not anticipated to be a high-ranking snowboarder in the competition and came into the event ranked 9th on the World Snowboarding Points List. Her second run scored 87.68, bested only by New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, who scored 92.88 to earn her nation its first gold medal in the competition.
“It’s honestly hard right now [to put into words], there’s just so much emotion,” Marino said according to NBC, who owns the rights to media broadcasting. “Right now, it’s just pure excitement and happiness for everything. It was a great day – the weather was perfect, the course was perfect, the girls were riding well, couldn’t have asked for better finals.”
Team USA also secured a silver medal in the Team Figure Skating competition. One of the relatively new returning events, the sport debuted at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Team USA won bronze that inaugural year and again in 2018.
On February 6, after four days of competition, Team USA pulled ahead of Japan to claim the silver medal.
“We’re celebrating silver,” rejoiced ice dancer Evan Bates of Team USA. “Winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games is an incredible achievement, and the fact that we all get a silver medal, the whole team – I’m so happy. I’m so happy.”
Team ROC, a firm favorite going into the event, took gold.
Russia is competing through the circumvention of symbolic rules. As a nation, Russia is effectively banned from competition after having sponsored a doping program, thus its “Committee” delegation. However, Russian athletes may compete, but are not permitted to display their national flag; neither are they allowed to hear the Russian national anthem at any point during the competition.
The third silver was awarded to Team USA in the Women’s Moguls event, though it nearly had a gold medal in hand. Skier Jailin Kauf had secured the top score with 80.28 and only one participant to come. Dramatically, Australian skier Jakara Anthony attacked the course to score 83.09 for the gold, winning Australia its first gold medal since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The first medals were won on February 5 after opening ceremonies were conducted the day prior. Competition commenced February 2. Olympic medal ceremonies will be held in different competitions throughout the Winter Games, with the final medals bestowed on February 20 as part of the closing ceremonies. In all, more than 300 medals will be awarded across 15 sports and 109 events.