GateCrashers Guide to the 2022 Winter Olympics

Patrick is here to break down all the Winter Olympics events and the proceedings for this year!

         The 2022 Winter Olympic Games are almost here! With the Opening Ceremonies on February 4 and preliminary competition starting February 2, the world’s best winter athletes have arrived in Beijing, China. These Games are certainly not without controversy, but from a purely sporting perspective, we are about to witness some amazing performances of the greatest snow and ice athletes from around the world.

         Only six months after the pandemic-delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the 2022 Games are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Omicron variant has greatly affected case numbers around the world (and positive COVID-19 test results might remove key competitors from any number of sports, as it did in Tokyo). In addition, there are human rights concerns regarding the Chinese government’s treatment of the predominately Muslim Uyghur ethnic group in Western China, as well as the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. This has led to several governments, including the United States and the United Kingdom, choosing to implement diplomatic boycotts for the Games. It is also worth noting the long history of the Olympics being used as propaganda, including by “democratic” and “capitalist” countries like the United States, and Beijing 2022 will be no different.

         Despite these controversies, most of the world’s greatest athletes in the fifteen Winter Olympic disciplines are expected to compete. Not a regular viewer of cross-country skiing, curling, luge, and biathlon? No worries, the official GateCrashers preview of the 2022 Winter Olympics is here to help!

         The events of the Winter Olympics are officially classified into seven winter sports, but several of those are broken into widely differing disciplines, meaning that competition is happening in 15 distinct sports. Even beyond that, some disciplines like snowboarding are further split into racing events and trick-based events. The 2022 Winter Olympics will see competition in 109 medal events, including 7 new events: women’s monobob in bobsledding, men’s and women’s big air freestyle skiing, and mixed team events in freestyle skiing aerials, snowboard cross, short track speed skating, and ski jumping. The ice sports such as figure skating, curling, and ice hockey will hold competition in Beijing and the surrounding area, using many venues from the 2008 Summer Olympics. Most of the snow sport events, including the various skiing disciplines and biathlon, will be held in neighboring Hebei Province.

         Another important event is the continuing controversy around the state-sponsored doping program in Russia. Following a major investigation, it was determined that the Russian government sponsored a doping program that saw many Russian athletes using performance-enhancing substances, including at their home Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. As a result, Russia was banned from competing at both the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics, and instead cleared Russian athletes will compete under the name “Russian Olympic Committee” and without the flag and national anthem of Russia.

Opening Ceremonies

Date: February 4

The Olympic Cauldron from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China / Wikipedia

The Opening Ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Olympics are likely to be a huge spectacle. The last time Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, the world was blown away by how incredible the Opening Ceremonies were. The Opening Ceremonies are the host city and country’s chance to introduce themselves to the rest of the world. The Opening Ceremonies include an artistic presentation from the hosts, as well as the parade of athletes and procedural items. Some preliminary competitions in curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, and ice hockey have started two days prior, but the Opening Ceremonies mark the official start of the 2022 Games.


Skating has three disciplines at the Winter Olympics:

Figure Skating

Dates: Competition starts February 3, Medals awarded on February 7, 10, 14, 17, 19

Events: singles (men and women), pairs (mixed), ice dancing (mixed), team event (mixed)


What is Figure Skating?:

Figure Skating is the marquee sport of the Winter Olympics, having featured some of the most memorable performances in winter sports history. This year’s competition will feature a team event, followed by events for singles, pairs, and ice dancing. One of two sports you have almost certainly seen in some format before, competitors complete athletic and artistic routines on ice skates and set to music. These routines are scored with a complex scoring system that combines difficulty, success of execution, and artistic presentation, with the highest score declared the winner. Competitions in the singles, pairs, and ice dancing events feature two routines, while the team event consists of routines from eight country’s singles, pairs, and ice dancers working towards a combined final score. Pairs is a similar event to singles, in that the pair will work together in many of the moves that are seen in the singles competition. Ice dancing, as the name implies however, changes the style of skating techniques to one that is more similar to ballroom dancing.

Alexandra TRUSOVA (ROC) / Wikipedia & Twitter

History is likely to be made in both the men’s and women’s singles competitions: the men’s will potentially see the world’s first ever quadruple axel jump, while the women’s competition will likely see the first quadruple jumps (or jumps that include four full rotations) from a woman in Olympic competition. Be sure to also check out the Exhibition Gala on February 20!

Who to watch out for:

The men’s singles event will likely be a competition between the American Nathan CHEN and the two-time reigning gold medalist Japanese skater HANYU Yuzuru. Look out for Chen’s quad-jump heavy routine, as well as Hanyu’s attempt at the first-ever quadruple axel (the only quadruple jump that is yet to be successfully landed). But don’t count Russians like Evgeni SEMENENKO out, nor the other Americans (Vincent ZHOU, Jason BROWN) and Japanese skaters (UNO Shoma, KAGIYAMA Yuma), who will all likely challenge for a medal. But don’t be surprised if there is a spoiler (maybe Georgia’s Morisi KVITELASHVILI?) who shakes up the podium standings, especially if one of the favorites misses one or more of their ambitious jumps.

The women’s single competition is likely to be dominated by the Russian Olympic Committee. The Americans used to be the dominant force in this competition, but in recent Olympics have fallen behind the mark. The Russian training system has produced some of the most technically proficient skaters the women’s competition has ever seen, with Kamila VALIEVA’s record-breaking run throughout the Grand Prix season reminiscent of Yuri’s achievements in Yuri!!! on Ice. Her biggest competition is countrywoman Alexandra TRUSOVA. The first woman to land a quad jump in Olympic competition will come down to who gets to skate first in the order. The Russian Olympic Committee team—VALIEVA, TRUSOVA, and reigning world champion Anya SHCHERBAKOVA—is so dominant that the only real competition is seen in Japanese skater SAKAMOTO Kaori. But don’t be surprised if it is a Russian sweep of the podium.

The pairs side is also likely to be dominated by the Russians, including the pairs of TARASOVA/MOROZOV and MISHINA/GAALIAMOV. Their biggest rival is in the Chinese pair of SUI/HAN, reigning silver medalists, hoping to get a boost from their home Games. And if Chinese athletic programs have shown anything, it’s that you can never count them out. The most likely non-Russian-or-Chinese pair that has a chance at the podium is Japan’s MIURA/KIHARA. On the Ice Dancing side, competition is a lot less secure, with France’s pair of PAPADAKIS/CIZERON, Canada’s GILLES/POIRIER, Russia’s SINITSINA/KATSALAPOV, Italy’s GUIGNARD/FABBRI, and three pairs from the United States (HUBBELL/DONOHUE, CHOCK/BATES, and HAWAYAK/BAKER) all in the running for the podium. Finally, in the team event, I fully expect the Russians to win the gold yet again, but the US and Canada could likely be fighting it out for silver.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

Yuri!!! on Ice centers around a Japanese figure skater and his new Russian coach, as well as their burgeoning romance. Often considered not only one of the greatest sports anime, but also one of the greatest anime of all time, Yuri!!! on Ice is available to watch on FUNimation (dubbed and subbed) and Crunchyroll (subbed). The figure skating community largely loves Yuri!!! on Ice, and many figure skaters used the music from the show for their routines at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. There is also a newer series (about a fictional version of figure skating), Skate-Leading☆Stars, which is also available dubbed and subbed on FUNimation.

In Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980), Maria Karsov, a Soviet figure skater, teams up with her fellow athletes during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, and forms a team known as the Olympians, who join Spider-Man and the Hulk. Maria uses her new rocket skates to help fight against Mole Man and his underlings.

And, of course, there is the Oscar-winning I, Tonya (2017), directed by Craig Gillespie, about Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding’s involvement in the assault on fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, starring Margot Robbie and Allison Janey, which won Janey the Academy Award for Supporting Actress.

Speed Skating

Dates: Competition starts February 5, Medals awarded on February 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19

Events: 500 meters (men and women), 1000 meters (men and women), 1500 meters (men and women), 3000 meters (women), 5000 meters (men and women), 10000 meters (men), mass start (men and women), and team pursuit (men and women)

Kjeld NUIS (NED) / Instagram

What is Speed Skating?:

Speed skating is racing on ice skates. This sport, as the name implies, is all about who is fastest. Special speed skating skates have razor thin blades, and are used by speed skaters to try and complete the fastest time for a set distance around a speed skating oval. The winner for each event is determined by the fastest time. This gets a bit confusing as two competitors will skate at the same time. However, they are ultimately competing against the clock, with the fastest time of all competitors declared the champion. The one exception to this is the mass start event, which sees all the competitors on the rink at the same time.

Who to watch out for:

In Olympics past, the Netherlands have dominated this sport, so much so that the King and Queen of the Netherlands are usually in attendance at the speed skating oval. However, this season, the traditional Dutch dominance has loosened up, allowing athletes from a variety of other countries to snag medals in the world cup season. On the men’s side, look out for Canada’s Laurent DUBREUIL, Japan’s MORISHIGE Wataru and SHINHAMA Tatsuya, Netherland’s Thomas KROL and Kjeld NUIS, Norway’s Håvard Holmefjord LORENTZEN, and American Joey MANTIA in the shorter distances. In the men’s long distances, keep an eye on Nils VAN DER POEL of Sweden, Ted-Jan BLOEMEN of Canada, Davide GHIOTTO of Italy, Ruslan ZAKHAROV of the Russian Olympic Committee, and former Belgian inline-skating world champ Bart SWINGS (especially in the Mass Start event).

For the women’s side, Americans Erin JACKSON and Brittany BOWE have dominated much of this season’s sprint races, joined by Japanese skaters KODAIRA Nao, TAKAGI Miho, and SATO Ayano—all contenders for the podium in the sprint events. But don’t count out the Dutch sporting hero Ireen WÜRST. In the distance races, the Netherlands’s Irene SCHOUTEN, Norway’s Ragne WIKLUND, and Canada’s Isabelle WEIDEMANN are all medal contenders.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

There is not an anime about ice-based speed skating specifically (which is kind of crazy, considering how popular this sport is in Japan). However, Air Gear is an anime based on a new, motorized form of inline skating, a sport with similar rules that many Olympic Speed Skaters start in. However, do not expect to gain much knowledge on speed skating in this show. Air Gear is available to watch on FUNimation.

Short Track Speed Skating

Dates: Competition starts February 5, Medals awarded on February 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16

Events: 500 meters (men and women), 1000 meters (men and women), 1500 meters (men and women), relay (men, women, and mixed)

Shaolin LIU (HUN)

What is Short Track Speed Skating?:

Similar to Speed Skating, Short Track Speed Skating is an ice-based racing sport; the difference between the two is that Speed Skating is a race against the clock, but Short Track is head-to-head. Similarly, Speed Skating (often referred to as long track) is competed on a sport-specific oval, while short track, as the name implies, is held on the shorter rink used for figure skating and ice hockey. Four to six skaters will race at one time over a variety of distances, with the top skaters moving on to the next round. In the final race of the distance, the first to cross the finish line wins the gold medal. Expect lots of jostling and crashes in this sport that focuses heavily on the head-to-head nature of the race.

CHOI Min-Jeong (KOR, R) leading the pack / Instagram

Who to watch out for:

The South Koreans are traditional heavyweights in this sport, and they have a number of strong contenders, including HWANG Dae-Heon and PARK Jang-Hyuk on the men’s side. They are joined by other traditional powerhouses including hosts China (WU Dajing, REN Ziwei), and long track-focused power the Netherlands (Itzhak DE LAAT, Sjinkie KNEGT). However, this year’s competition will be shaken up by rising power Hungary, led by the LIU brothers (Shaolin LIU and Shaoang LIU) and former American competitor John-Henry KRUEGER. The women’s side includes South Korean favorites of LEE Yu-Bin and CHOI Min-Jeong, Americans Kristen SANTOS and Maame BINEY, Dutch skater Suzanne SCHULTING (also likely to compete in long track), Italian Arianna FONTANA, and Canadians Kim BOUTIN and Courtney SARAULT.

Ice Hockey

Dates: Competition starts February 3, Medals awarded on February 17, 20

Events: team competition (men and women)

Team Canada – Women’s Ice Hockey / Instagram

What is Ice Hockey?:

The most popular winter team sport in the world, ice hockey is a common sport in the colder regions of Canada (where it originated), the United States, Russia, and Europe, with popularity gaining in many countries in Asia. It is very likely a sport you have watched before, with leagues such as the National Hockey League (NHL) getting regular airtime in the United States and Canada. Ice hockey is similar to other goal-scoring sports, with each team, on ice skates, trying to score goals by getting the puck into their opponent’s goal with their hockey sticks. Games are split into three periods, with the winner being the team that scores the most goals. The ice hockey tournament sees group play with each team in a group playing each other team in their group. The top-ranking teams then proceed to elimination rounds, with the last two remaining teams competing for the gold medal.

Who to watch out for:

Following the decision by the NHL to not have their players participate in the Olympic tournament due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and rising case numbers, the men’s tournament is likely to be dominated by the Russian Olympic Committee. Canada is likely to field a strong team even without their NHL players, while Finland is likely to be in the run for medals as well. The women’s tournament has featured the US and Canada slugging it out in the Gold Medal Match at every Olympics since women’s ice hockey was first introduced at Nagano 1998. If anyone mounts a surprising run for the gold, expect it to be Finland. Nevertheless, the women’s gold medal match is likely to be the most riveting hockey match of the whole Games.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

A very recent anime, PuraOre! Pride of Orange, just finished up its first season, and is currently available subbed on FUNimation. This anime follows a group of high schoolers discovering ice hockey for the first time as they build a team and begin competing. PuraOre! is the first ice hockey anime ever produced, but a handful of popular manga about ice hockey have been published, including Supinamarada!, which follows a figure skater who decides to join the ice hockey team following the death of his mother.

Robby Kyle, an ice hockey player representing Canada at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, teams up with his fellow athletes to create a team known as the Olympians in Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980). Robby uses his super-stick and power-pucks to fight alongside Spider-Man and the Hulk to defeat the Mole Man.

The 2004 movie Miracle tells the story of the “Miracle on Ice”, or the gold-medal run of the US Olympic Ice Hockey team that finally defeated the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, and is considered one of the greatest sports performances of all time. This movie provides an emotional journey through the Olympic tournament, even if it whitewashes the geopolitics a bit.


Dates: Competition starts February 2, Medals awarded on February 8, 19, 20

Events: team competition (men and women), doubles (mixed)

Jennifer Dodds & Bruce Mouat (GBR) / Instagram

What is Curling?:

Originating in Scotland, curling sees teams work to send heavy stones down a sheet of ice to try to be the closest to the center of a set of rings. Similar to lawn bowls, bocce ball, and shuffleboard, curling is a sport that has gained a massive following in recent years. This sport is surprisingly riveting, and you will be surprised with just how glued you are to each round. There are three events at the Winter Olympics: men’s and women’s team events and a mixed doubles event. The two team events feature two teams of four competing over ten rounds, or ends, while the mixed doubles event sees two teams of two competing over six ends. The team works to throw the stone down the ice and use specially-designed brooms to melt the ice to affect the stone into the desired location. Similar to ice hockey, curling is first competed in group play, then in elimination rounds, with the final two teams competing for the gold medal.

Who to watch out for:

Sweden has won every men’s world championship since the last Olympics, while Great Britain, Canada, and Switzerland are all regularly in the running for medal positions. But don’t be surprised if reigning gold medalists the United States make a run for a medal. On the women’s side, two-time reigning world champion Switzerland is a major contender for the gold medal, with reigning gold medalists Sweden also likely to factor in the medal rounds. Don’t be surprised by a historic run by both the United States and the Russian Olympic Committee, who both have had impressive runs in recent women’s world championships. For mixed doubles, it is safe to expect that Great Britain (represented in Olympic curling by the Scottish national team), Norway, Sweden, and Canada will make a run for the medal rounds of this shortened form of the sport. But this is the most likely event to see a spoiler team (like first-time qualifiers Australia) make a surprise run to the final rounds.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

There are (at least) two manga about curling: Orange Delivery from 2006 and Haebaru Curling Stones, which started in 2020 and has not been translated to English yet, as far as I can tell.


Dates: Competition starts February 5, Medals awarded on February 6, 8, 9, 10

Events: singles (men and women), doubles (open), team relay (mixed)

Tobias WENDL & Tobias ARLT (GER) / Instagram

What is Luge?:

Luge is a sled race. Each event sees competitors sliding down an artificially created ice track, with the fastest combined time after four rounds claiming the gold medal. Lugers ride the sleds laying down on their backs, and the track is a banked slalom of ice that can be dangerous for the untrained or even the trained. Fast speeds are to be expected, as are sharp turns and even some crashes. Competitions include a singles event for both men and women. There is also an “open” doubles event where the competitors lay on top of each on the sled (however, in practice, 100% of the competitors in Olympic doubles competition have been men, and in fact, the luge federation is trying to add a women’s doubles event at future Olympics). Be sure to check out the relay, which sees three sleds from the same country take turns sliding down the track to be the fastest combined team time.

Who to watch out for:

Luge has largely been a German affair, but expect strong competition from the Russians, Austrians, and Latvians as well, especially in the men’s event where Russian Olympic Committee’s Roman REPILOV is a gold medal favorite. On the women’s side, a strong showing from the German sleds led by Julia TAUBITZ and reigning gold medalist Natalie GEISENBERGER is expected, although the Russians and the Americans both might contend. Germany is also the dominant country in doubles between reigning gold medalists WENDL/ARLT and reigning world champions EGGERT/BENECKEN, although expect Russia, Latvia, and Austria in the run for a medal here as well.


Bobsleigh has two disciplines at the Winter Olympics:


Dates: Competition starts February 13, Medals awarded February 14, 15, 19, 20

Events: monobob (women), two-man (men and women), four-man (men)

Jamaican 4-Man Bobsleigh Team

What is Bobsleigh?:

Similar to luge, bobsleigh is competed on the artificially-created ice track, but bobsledders compete sitting up in their sleds. For sleds with more than one athlete, the front athlete is called the pilot, while the back athlete is called the brakeman, who steers and controls the sled’s speed, respectively. Also like luge, the fastest combined time after four rounds collects the gold medal. This sport is also one of the most diverse in the Winter Olympics, and a sport where we see many former Summer athletes compete, as Bobsleigh teams often recruit their country’s track and field athletes for their sled members.

This year’s competition will see the first time that women and men have the same number of events. However, there is some controversy in this, as the women’s new event is in the monobob (or one-person bobsleigh), unlike the men’s four-person event. However, there is a potential for a country’s first bobsleigh medal in the women’s monobob. Another controversy in bobsleigh is the removal of continental quotas (which would have guaranteed a competition spot for the highest sled from Africa, for example) in the qualification this year.

Bree WALKER (AUS) / Instagram

Who to watch out for:

Sleds led by German pilot Francesco FRIEDRICH are heavy favorites in both the men’s two-man and the marquee four-man events. FRIEDRICH has only lost once this season in each event, falling in the two-man in Sigulda, Latvia, to Rostislav GAITIUKEVICH’s sled of the Russian Olympic Committee, while the four-man Latvian sled piloted by Oskars ĶIBERMANIS managed to just edge out the Germans at the final pre-Olympic race of the season. Great Britain and Austria are also likely to compete for the medal stand.

The Americans are likely to make a strong showing on the women’s side with pilots Kaillie HUMPHRIES, former member of Team Canada, and Elana MEYERS TAYLOR, the four-time Olympian who is still seeking that elusive gold medal. Both Americans have a good chance of being on the two women’s podiums, joined by any number of German athletes (NOLTE, KALICKI, and reigning gold-medalist JAMANKA in two-woman; SCHNEIDER, BUCKWITZ, and NOLTE in monobob). Other sleds in the running include Canada’s Christine DE BRUIN’s sleds in both events, as well as the monobob sled of Alysia RISSLING. The women’s monobob could see some history, as there is a good chance that Australia could win its first ever bobsleigh medal from Bree WALKER. Also keep an eye out on some unexpected athletes to step onto the podium if they pull off a good run, including Jazmine FENLATOR-VICTORIAN of Jamaica (in what would be a Winter Games first) and Georgeta POPESCU of Romania.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

Using a bomb-sled, Claude LeBron fights alongside his fellow athletes, as well as Spider-Man and the Hulk, in Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980). A bobsledder competing for France at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, Claude helps defeat Mole Man, who attacks the Games.

Perhaps the most famous piece of bobsledding media ever, the 1993 film Cool Runnings, depicts a fictionalized account of the Jamaican bobsled team’s first ever Olympic qualification in the sport. This famous performance begins a tradition of Jamaican bobsled teams at the Olympics. The Beijing Olympics will be no different, with Jamaican sleds slated to compete in three of the four events, including the first qualified four-man sled from the country in 24 years!


Dates: Competition starts February 10, Medals awarded February 11, 12

Events: skeleton (men and women)

Martin DUKURS (LAT) / Instagram

What is Skeleton?:

Skeleton is the final sliding sport, competed on the artificially-created ice track. Where luge is competed lying on one’s back and bobsled is competed sitting in the sled, skeleton is competed lying down on your stomach, headfirst. The winner is similarly determined by the top combined time after four rounds. This sport is just as dangerous as the other two if you’re not careful, and the speed of these competitors will surprise you. However, this sport is most like “amateur” sledding as many people have childhood memories of sledding down a snowy hill on their belly. No one really knows where its spooky-sounding name comes from though…

Who to watch out for:

In men’s skeleton, the Martins DUKURS of Latvia has had an excellent season and is in prime position to get the gold medal. Expect fierce competition from his brother Tomass DUKURS, as well as Russian Alexander TRETIAKOV and Germans Axel JUNGK and Christopher GROTHEER. On the women’s side, the Dutchwoman Kimberly BOS is in the running to win her country their first medal on the sliding track, but she will face fierce competition from German Tina HERMANN and the Russian trio of Yulia KANAKINA, Elenea NIKITINA, and Alina TARARYCHENKOVA.


Dates: Competition starts February 5, Medals awarded February 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19

Events: 7.5 kilometer sprint (women), 10 kilometer sprint (men), 10 kilometer pursuit (women), 12.5 kilometer pursuit (men), 12.5 kilometer mass start (women), 15 kilometer mass start (men), 15 kilometer individual (women), 20 kilometer individual (men), 4×6 kilometer relay (women), 4×7.5 kilometer relay (men), 2×6+2×7.5 kilometer relay (mixed)

Quentin FILLON MAILLET (FRA) / Instagram

What is Biathlon?:

Biathlon is a multi-sport that combines cross-country skiing with sport shooting (an otherwise Summer Olympic sport). Biathletes compete on a cross-country course that includes stops at a shooting range, where they must accurately shoot five targets (which is increasingly difficult the more tired one gets). Penalties (either time or extra ski distance) result for each miss. Some races, such as the individual, are races against the clock, with the fastest time winning. Other races, such as the mass start and the pursuit, see the first to cross the finish line as the winner. The skiing in biathlon is great, but the shooting is unlike anything else at the Winter Olympics and watching all the targets go down in a mass start competition is thrilling. Definitely worth a watch if you’ve never seen this sport before!

Who to watch out for:

Biathletes often compete in the full range of events, so the top athletes are expected to perform well in each event. On the men’s side, expect the French, the Norwegians, and the Swedish to be on the podium. Quentin FILLON MAILLET and Émilien JACQUELIN of France and the Norwegian team lead by the BØ brothers, Tarjei and Johannes Thingnes, are all likely to snag at least one medal. Also be on the look out for Swede Sebastian SAMUELSSON, Belarussian Anton SMOLSKI, German Benedikt DOLL, and Russians Eduard LATYPOV, Alexandr LOGINOV, and Anton BABIKOV. The Norwegians are likely to see their countrywoman Marte OLSBU RØISELAND snag a medal, joined by Swedish sisters Hanna and Elvira ÖBERG, Belarussian Hanna SOLA, and Frenchwomen Julia SIMON, Anaïs BESCOND, and Anaïs CHEVALIER-BOUCHET.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

In DC Comics, Gelena Golovin won a gold medal in biathlon for the Soviet Union. Now a member of Stormwatch Team Achilles of the Wildstorm Universe/Earth-50, Gelena is putting her biathlon (and military) experience to use as a sniper for the team.


Skiing has six disciplines at the Winter Olympics:

Cross-Country Skiing

Dates: Competition starts February 5, Medals awarded February 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 19, 20

Events: sprint freestyle (men and women), team sprint classical (men and women), 10 kilometer classical (women), 15 kilometer classical (men), 15 kilometer skiathlon (women), 30 kilometer skiathlon (men), 30 kilometer freestyle (women), 50 kilometer freestyle (men), 4×5 kilometer relay (women), 4×10 kilometer relay (men)


What is Cross-Country Skiing?:

Cross-country skiing is the track and field of snow sports. A very athletic sport that features a range of distances from sprints to the equivalent of a marathon, cross-country skiing is a purely technical racing sport. Similar to biathlon, some events are against the clock, while others are a mass start. The sprint races, however, are a tournament bracket style race, that sees the competitors compete in successive rounds, with a final round determining the Olympic medalists.

Jessie DIGGANS (USA) / Instagram

Who to watch out for:

Norway is often the top country on the Winter Olympic medal table, and many of these medals are won in the ski sports. Cross-country skiing is no exception. In the men’s events, expect strong showings from the Norwegians, including, but certainly not limited to, three-time gold medalist Johannes Høsflot KLÆBO and two-time gold medalist Simen Hegstad KRÜGER. Also likely in the running is Finland’s Iivo NISKANEN and a resurgent Russian team led by Alexander BOLSHUNOV and Sergey USTIUGOV. For the women, the Swedes led by Maja DAHLQUIST and Frida KARLSSON have dominated the season, but the Norwegians were close behind with strong performances from Heidi WENG and Therese JOHAUG. Expect a strong showing from the American women who have had an impressive Olympic cycle since a historic 2018 gold medal won by Jessie DIGGANS, who is expected on the podium in Beijing as well. Look out for her during the Team Spring in particular. Finally, a late surge from Russian Natalya NEPRYAYEVA during the annual Tour de Ski, and consistent performance from Slovakian Anamarija LAMPIĆ could factor into the medals here.

Ski Jumping

Dates: Competition starts February 5, Medals awarded February 5, 6, 7, 12, 14

Events: normal hill individual (men and women), large hill individual (men), normal hill team (mixed), large hill team (men)

KOBAYASHI Ryōyū (JPN) / Instagram

What is Ski Jumping?:

Ski jumping is just as it sounds: a competition where the athletes are jumping on skis. Two special hills are constructed for this competition, where skiers jump sometimes over 100 meters through the air. I will admit, this sport is weird. Watching people go down these massive hills and jump through the air on massive skis is always wild. The winner is determined after each skier takes four jumps. Likewise, there are team events where each country’s skiers combine their jumps for the scores, with the top country winning the gold medal.

Who to watch out for:

Japan’s KOBAYASHI Ryōyū has had a fantastic season, winning the important Four Hills Tournament in early January. He is not the run-away favorite, however, as Germany’s Karl GEIGER has led the world cup standings with a more consistent, if less-winning, performance over the season. Keep a look out for Slovenian Anže LANIŠEK and Norwegians Marius LINDVIK and Halvor Egner GRANERUD. Austria could also find themselves on the podium, especially in the men’s and mixed team events. For the women’s competition, Marita KRAMER of Austria is a strong contender, as are Germany’s reigning silver medalist Katharina ALTHAUS and Japan’s reigning bronze medalist TAKANASHI Sara. Slovenian athletes including Ema KLINEC, Urša BOGATAJ, and Nika KRIŽNAR could be in the running, as well.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

A manga about ski jumping does exist! Entitled Nononono, this manga follows a female competitor who must disguise herself as a man in order to compete in the Olympics to restore her family’s honor in the sport. This manga is from before 2014, when women were allowed to compete in ski jumping for the first time at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Nordic Combined

Dates: Competition starts February 9, Medals awarded February 9, 15, 17

Events: individual normal hill/10 kilometer (men), individual large hill/10 kilometer (men), team large hill/4×5 kilometer (men)

Jarl Magnus RIIBER (NOR) ski jumping

What is Nordic Combined?:

The last remaining Winter discipline to only feature competition for men, Nordic combined is a multi-sport event incorporating ski jumping and cross-country skiing. An initial round of ski jumping grants a head start for the top jumpers for the cross-country skiing race. As each skier is released, they will chase down the leaders, with the first skier to cross the finish line declared the winner of the overall event. This event combines some great racing with the craziness of ski jumping, so is a great event to watch if you don’t mind a break between the two parts of the competition (and the fact that it is still men only). Thankfully, it appears the winds of change are coming for this sport, and hopefully, we will see women compete in Nordic combined in 2026!

Who to watch out for:

Expect a strong performance out of Norway’s Jarl Magnus RIIBER and Austria’s Johannes LAMPARTER, although Germany’s deep team will likely challenge for the podium with Vinzenz GEIGER and Eric FRENZEL making the most podiums for Germany this season. But look out for Estonia’s Kristjan ILVES, who could spoil and end in a podium position.

Jarl Magnus RIIBER (NOR) cross-country skiing / Instagram

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

As mentioned above, there is a manga about ski jumping, Nononono, which constitutes one-half of this sport. Also relevant here is that women are not yet allowed to compete in this sport at the Olympics.

Alpine Skiing

Dates: Competition starts February 6, Medals awarded February 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19

Events: slalom (men and women), giant slalom (men and women), super-g (men and women), downhill (men and women), combined (men and women), team event (mixed)


What is Alpine Skiing?:

Alpine skiing, often referred to as just “ski racing”, is a downhill race. This sport is a highly technical and advanced form of skiing down the side of a mountain. These races are about speed and precision as these skiers race down the slope. Events range from the highly technical slalom to the more speed-focused downhill event. This is another marquee sport, especially in the United States, and many of the stars of these Games will likely come from this sport. The winner here is the fastest skier (who stays on course the whole way down), either over one or two runs. The team event is a fun head-to-head competition that is a bit different from the individual events that is neat to check out as well!

Who to watch out for:

Men’s competitors to look out for include Marco ODERMATT of Switzerland, who has won several giant slalom and super-g races, as well as medaling in the downhill. Norway has several competitors who could end up on the podium, including Aleksander Aamodt KILDE in the downhill and super-g and both Lucas BRAATHEN and Sebastian FOSS-SOLEVÅG in the slalom. The Austrians have a strong team as well; expect Matthias MAYER and Vincent KRIECHMAYR to be competitive in the downhill and super-g, as well as Italy’s Dominik PARIS. The slalom is particularly competitive among the men, with France, Sweden, Germany, and Croatia all medaling this season. However, someone to keep an eye out for is Dave RYDING of Great Britain, who has had a strong showing recently in his bid to get Team GB their first alpine skiing medal.

On the women’s side, the marquee event will likely be the slalom, where American superstar Mikaela SHIFFRIN and her Slovak rival Petra VLHOVÁ have traded wins all season. Lena DÜRR of Germany, Katharina LIENSBERGER of Austria, and Wendy HOLDENER of Switzerland will all factor in as well. Expect SHIFFRIN (reigning gold medalist) and VLHOVÁ to make a run for the podium in the giant slalom as well, joined by Sara HECTOR of Sweden and Tessa WORLEY of France. The super-g has been largely dominated by Sofia GOGGIA of Italy but due to injury is likely to miss this event in favor of the downhill. Look out instead for compatriots Frederica BRIGNONE and Elena CURTONI, as well as a number of Swiss skiers led by Lara GUT-BEHRAMI. But don’t be surprised if SHIFFRIN joins them on the podium if she decides to race this event. GOGGIA of Italy and GUT-BEHRAMI of Switzerland could be joined by Mijam PUCHNER, and Ramona SIEBENHOFER, both of Austria, on the podium for the women’s downhill. But don’t be surprised if world champion snowboarder Ester LEDECKÁ of the Czech Republic joins the podium, as she did when she shocked the world and won gold in the super-g in 2018.

Dominik PARIS (ITA, R) / Instagram

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

In Marvel comics, the mutant Jean-Paul Beaubier, better known as Northstar, competed in men’s alpine skiing, winning a gold medal; however, his success at the Olympics were due to this mutant power of superhuman speed. American Olympic skier Brad Rossi features in Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980), where he joins other athletes as a member of the Olympians, a team who fights alongside Spider-Man and the Hulk. Brad uses his rocket skis and power poles in their fight against Mole Man during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

The 1969 movie Downhill Racer, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman, follow an American alpine skier in the run up to and competition during the Winter Olympics, with plenty of drama along the way.

Freestyle Skiing

Dates: Competition begins February 3, Medals awarded February 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

Events: aerials (men and women), team aerials (mixed), moguls (men and women), halfpipe (men and women), slopestyle (men and women), big air (men and women), ski cross (men and women)

XU Mengtao (CHN) competing in Aerials

What is Freestyle Skiing?:

Freestyle skiing includes many events that are also competed in snowboarding, but feature some unique events as well, namely aerials and moguls. These sports are mostly focused on execution of tricks on a halfpipe, rails and jumps (slopestyle), or jumps (aerials and big air). In addition, ski cross is a racing competition that uses freestyle skiing technique, in a head-to-head race, while moguls combines downhill skiing technique with trick proficiency on jumps. This wide range of events means that every competition is unique and exciting, with the winner usually the one who can cleanly land the gnarliest run.

Who to watch out for:

In men’s aerials, expect a strong performance from Russian Maxim BUROV, but also expect fierce competition from both the Chinese and the Swiss; on the women’s side, aerials could see Chinese favorites XU Mengtao and KONG Fanyu go head-to-head at home with athletes from Australia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In men’s moguls, Japan’s HORISHIMA Ikuma and reigning gold medalist Mikaël KINGSBURY have both taken turns at the top of the podium this season, but Sweden’s Walter WALLBERG is always close behind. For women’s moguls, expect a tight competition between Japanese skier KAWAMURA Anri, Frenchwoman Perrine LAFFONT, and the Australian Jakara ANTHONY.

Kelly SILDARU (EST) competing in Slopestyle / Shutterstock & Wikipedia

On the halfpipe, the men’s event could see a strong competition between American Alex FERREIRA, Canadian Brendan MACKAY, and X Games gold medalist Nico PORTEOUS of New Zealand, while the women’s halfpipe has been dominated by GU Eileen of China, although Estonian Kelly SILDARU will mount a strong challenge. SILDARU is a heavy favorite for the women’s slopestyle gold, but GU will likely be in the running as well; expect France’s Tess LEDEUX, the X Games gold medalist, to be fighting for a podium position as well. LEDEUX and GU are also likely to be on the podium in big air. Men’s slopestyle is anyone’s game, with Switzerland’s Andri RAGETTLI snagging the X Games gold just prior to the Olympics, with Canadian Max MOFFATT and American Alex HALL winning the silver and bronze, but keep an eye on Norway’s Birk RUUD. In the brand-new big air events, Austrian Matěj ŠVANCER has been consistent, but HALL and RUUD are expected to be competitive here as well.

In the fast racing of ski cross, Sweden’s Sandra NÄSLUND has it all but wrapped up on the women’s side, but Switzerland’s Fanny SMITH and Canadian Marielle THOMPSON won’t make it easy for her. For the men, Ryan REGEZ of Switzerland, Terence THIKNAVORIAN and Bastien MIDOL of France, and David MOBÄRG of Sweden are all likely to make a run for gold in a wide-open, competitive field.


Dates: Competition begins February 5, Medals awarded February 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15

Events: halfpipe (men and women), slopestyle (men and women), big air (men and women), snowboard cross (men and women), team snowboard cross (mixed), parallel giant slalom (men and women)

Jan SCHERRER (SUI) competing in Halfpipe

What is Snowboarding?:

Snowboarding shares many events with freestyle skiing, as well as competitions that are similar to alpine skiing. The main difference here, of course, is that competition occurs on a single snowboard instead of two skis. In addition, many of the events that freestyle skiing and snowboarding share originated with snowboarders recreating many of the tricks landed and events held in skateboarding (which is now also an Olympic sport). The trick events of halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air are also looking for the gnarliest, but cleanest, run. Snowboard cross is held as a racing competition, with the same head-to-head format as ski cross. There is also the alpine snowboarding parallel giant slalom, which is similar in racing style to alpine skiing, but is held on a snowboard in a head-to-head format, with the competitors competing through a bracket.

Who to watch out for:

In the marquee snowboard halfpipe event, Japan is the country to beat. A full Japanese sweep of the podium, likely led by HIRANO Ayumu and HIRANO Ruka, is very much in the realm of possibility. American star Shaun WHITE could challenge them, but their biggest rival is probably Jan SCHERRER of Switzerland. In women’s halfpipe, Japan (TOMITA Sena, TOMITA Ruki, and ONO Mitsuki) will have a strong showing, but American and reigning gold medalist Chloe KIM, Spain’s Queralt CASTELLET, and China’s CAI Xuetong will all be in the running as well. In slopestyle, be on the lookout for reigning men’s gold medalist Red GERARD of Team USA, but a rather wide-open field means that it’s anyone’s game; for the women, New Zealand’s Zoi SADOWSKI-SYNNOTT is looking for her second Olympic medal, but fellow X Games medalists Jamie ANDERSON of the US and Laurie BLOUIN of Canada, as well as German Annika MORGAN and MURASE Kokomo of Japan, will be competitive here as well. In big air, reigning gold medalist Anna GASSER of Austria could very likely defend her title, but Japanese star IWABUCHI Reira and reigning bronze medalist (and recent X Games champion) SADOWSKI-SYNNOTT will make this event competitive. On the men’s side, the big air title is equally up for grabs, with Norway’s Marcus KLEVELAND, Canada’s Max PARROT, and Finland’s Rene RINNEKANGAS walking away with the top 3 spots at the X Games in Aspen.

Zoi SADOWSKI-SYNNOTT (NZL) competing in Slopestyle / Instagram

For snowboard racing, men’s snowboard cross is likely to feature a competitive field, including the US’s Nick BAUMGARTEN, Austria’s Alessandro HÄMMERLE and Jakob DUSEK, Canadian Éliot GRONDIN, and Germany’s Martin NÖRL. On the women’s side, could this finally be American Lindsay JACOBELLIS’s year to win the long-elusive gold medal (and her first Olympic medal since her ill-fated silver medal in 2006)? She will have to fight her way through a strong field that includes Great Britain’s Charlotte BANKES, Italy’s Michela MOIOLI, Australia’s Belle BROCKHOFF, and Frenchwoman Chloé TRESPEUCH. Even if JACOBELLIS falters in the individual event, she likely will also have the mixed team event for a chance at Olympic gold. In the alpine snowboarding events of parallel giant slalom, previous heavy favorite Ester LEDECKÁ of the Czech Republic will certainly be in the running here. The reigning gold medalist in this event, LEDECKÁ is facing a strong challenge from a number of other athletes, including Daniela ULBING of Austria, Russian Sofia NADYRSHINA, and Switzerland’s Julie ZOGG. On the men’s side, reigning silver medalist LEE Sang-ho, South Korea’s only medalist on snow, has remained consistent in the years since the 2018 Olympics on home snow; he will meet German Stefan BAUMEISTER, Russian Dmitry LOGINOV, and Italian Roland FISCHNALLER.

What nerdy connections are there to this sport?:

While there is (surprisingly!) no anime specifically about snowboarding competition, the sport does feature in Sk∞ the Infinity, where a snowboarder from Canada decides to switch to skateboarding after he moves to the much more tropical Okinawa. (You should check out Sk∞ anyway, it’s so good! It’s available on FUNimation [subbed and dubbed].)

Closing Ceremonies

Date: February 20

The Closing Ceremonies will be held in the evening of February 20, following the end of competition earlier in the day (and likely confirmation of Norway on top of the total medal count). Features of these ceremonies will be a farewell artistic presentation from the city of Beijing; a presentation from the organizers of the next Winter Olympics in 2026 in Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; the awarding of the final medals, usually for the 50 kilometer cross-country race; and a celebration of all of the athletic achievements that have occurred over the previous two-and-a-half weeks!

The Olympics are over, and now I’m sad. What should I do?

Watch the Paralympics!:

Oksana Masters (USA) competing in Para Cross-Country Skiing

Just two weeks following the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, Beijing will also host the world’s greatest disabled winter athletes! Competing in adaptive versions of alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, ice hockey, and curling, Paralympians will compete over the course of a week and a half for medals in 78 events, which includes competitions for standing, sitting, and visually impaired skiers and snowboarders, and wheelchair users competing in curling, and lower body disabilities of those who compete in ice hockey. If you are a regular watcher of Olympic sport, you owe it to the Paralympians to give their competition a view as well, or else you might miss out on some of the greatest sporting moments in Beijing.

Team Canada competing in Wheelchair Curling / Instagram & Canadian Paralympic Committee

Start exploring Ski Mountaineering!

A new sport is being added to the 2026 Winter Olympics: Ski Mountaineering! This sport features competitors racing up (and back down) a mountain, using a combination of skiing and hiking. This exciting competition will provide another opportunity to watch some of the world’s best winter athletes. The next world championships are expected to be held in 2023, but international races happen multiple times throughout the winter, with highlights available on the International Ski Mountaineering Federation’s YouTube channel.

Watch winter sports outside of the Olympics:

All the sports listed here (with the exception of Ice Hockey) hold international competitions every winter. These competitions usually feature Olympic athletes in these competitions, and most of these sports will hold world championships in 2023. Most sports live stream their competitions on YouTube, while others are presented on television channels like NBC and NBC Sports in the United States.

Get ready for the next Summer Olympics at Paris 2024:

Only a little under two-and-a-half years (only 887 days!) after the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, the 2024 Summer Olympics open in Paris, France on July 26, 2024. With 32 sports ranging from track and field and swimming to skateboarding and sports climbing, the 329 events of the 2024 Olympics will surely impress us just as much as the athletes in Beijing. 887 days 887 too many? Many of the summer sports also have competitions available to view on YouTube, as well as broadcasted on networks like NBC, NBC Sports, and ESPN. And we’ll be back in about 30 months with a preview for 2024!

By Patrick Dickerson

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