© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Here's how the athletes did in the first weekend of the Winter Olympics


Let's go to the Olympics now because they're still full of great stories. To get to these once-every-four-years events like the Winter Games underway in China, athletes need perseverance, heart, luck and more. Much of that was on display during this first weekend of the Games, as NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Snowboard slopestyle has a definite ooh and ahh factor as athletes ride rails, and soar, and somersault after launching off ramps. And you can add an aww factor after what American Julia Marino did when she had a gold medal snatched away on Sunday. On the last run of the competition, New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott topped Marino's up to then best score. And when the winning number flashed on the scoreboard, Marino rushed the New Zealander and joyfully tackled her, trailed by bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia, who joined the dogpile. Marino said her reaction was because she thinks of Sadowski-Synnott as a good friend and in that moment, an inspiration, too.


JULIA MARINO: To see her just stomp an insane run on a really difficult course meant a lot for all of us. It meant a lot for women's snowboarding. We all were super-happy for her.

GOLDMAN: Marino got double kudos for her reaction and her silver medal, the first U.S. medal of the Beijing Games and the 32nd in U.S. snowboarding history. That's the most by one country in Olympic competition. As far as first medals go, host country China's set off quite the celebration, or so we gathered from our tight Olympic bubble, which keeps journalists and athletes away from the Chinese public. A mixed-gender short track speedskating team from China won the chaotic-looking relay when Wu Dajing crossed the finish line a fraction of a second ahead of an Italian skater. At a watch party, Wu's tearful mom spoke through an interpreter.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Through interpreter) I'm happy, extremely happy, and I feel so proud of them all. Keep up the good work in the upcoming events.

GOLDMAN: In that event, Arianna Fontana of the runner-up Italian team made history. She won her ninth Olympic short track medal. That's the most ever, and it broke a tie with a couple of the sport's male legends, Russian Viktor An, and American Apolo Ohno. Legacies were a big part of the weekend.


SHAUN WHITE: Hey. What's up? I'm Shaun White, I'm 13 years old. I'm from San Diego. I've been snowboarding for about six years.

GOLDMAN: Make that nearly 30 years now. And during that time, Shaun White became the face of his sport - the flying tomato with his long red hair and winner of three Olympic half-pipe gold medals. This weekend, he announced these games, his fifth, will be his last competition. He's dealt with recent nagging injuries, and he said the decision to stop came during a quiet moment riding a chairlift at an Austrian resort.


WHITE: I was watching kind of like the sun go down, and it just hit me. I was like, this is it. These are the signs. And it was like a very sad and surreal sort of moment but then very, you know, joyous as well because I kind of reflected on all the things I've done.

GOLDMAN: He hopes to add to his catalogue of reflections in a halfpipe competition this week. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.