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Beijing Rewind, Feb. 9: Nathan's coronation, Chloe's dominance, Lindsey's redemption

This is what erasing 16 years of Winter Olympics frustration looks like.

BEIJING, China — Team USA kicked its game up a notch Wednesday at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, winning its first gold medal of the games. And then the second. And then the third. 

They included a woman completing a 16-year journey to make up for a mistake that cost her gold in Italy, a young woman cementing her name as the best on the halfpipe and a three-time world champion erasing history while writing a new chapter in U.S. men's figure skating.

Nathan Chen wins long-sought gold medal

Nathan Chen completed his four-year journey toward an elusive Olympic gold medal Thursday, following his record short program at the Beijing Games with a near-perfect free skate that earned him a standing ovation from supporters inside historic Capital Indoor Stadium.

The 22-year-old star landed all five of his quads during his “Rocketman” program, set to the soaring film score by Elton John, to finish with 332.60 points — just three off his own world record — and become the first American champion since Evan Lysacek stood on the top of the podium in 2010 in Vancouver.

Chen's score easily outdistanced his two closest pursuers, Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno of Japan, and put firmly in the past any lingering memories of his brutal disappointment four years ago in Pyeongchang.

Chloe Kim wins historic back-to-back halfpipe gold

No way was snowboarder Chloe Kim taking an easy ride down the halfpipe for her victory lap on her third and final run.

Chloe Kim became the first woman to win back-to-back gold in the women's snowboard halfpipe. Kim scored a 94.00 on the first of three attempts. Each of her 11 challengers had two more tries to best it, but couldn't.

As the last competitor and with the gold sewed up, she tried to see if she could land one of her toughest tricks, a cab 1260 (3 1/2 spins). And while the American standout fell, she quickly got back up and glided to the bottom of the halfpipe Thursday with her new title.

Lindsey Jacobellis erases 2006, finally gets snowboardcross gold

Lindsey Jacobellis helped make the wild sport of snowboardcross famous. Who could forget her premature celebration as she approached the finish line in the 2006 Turin Games, an ill-timed board grab that sent her tumbling out of the lead? In a way, she became one of the best-known silver medalists of all time.

Now Jacobellis will be remembered as the first American gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics. Jacobellis rode hard to the finish of the snowboardcross final on Wednesday, beating Chloe Trespeuch of France and covering her heart with her hands as she slowed.

US men's and women's curling teams sweep ROC in openers

John Shuster delivered a routine draw with the final rock in the extra end, and the United States men's curling team opened their title defense with a 6-5 victory over the Russian Olympic Committee team on Wednesday night at the Ice Cube.

Hours later, the U.S. women also beat the Russians, although it wasn't nearly as suspenseful. The Americans built a 9-3 lead, forcing ROC to concede the game after just seven ends.

Simone Biles sends support to Mikaela Shiffrin

Fellow Olympians and fans all around the world are rallying behind Mikaela Shiffrin, after her rough start to the 2022 Olympic Games. Shiffrin, a gold medal favorite, has failed to complete her first two events.

Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles was among those sending Shiffrin good vibes. Last year during the Tokyo Olympics, Biles renewed the conversation about athletes' mental health and the pressure faced by Olympians when she dropped out of nearly all events and opened up about the mental-health issues she was dealing with. 

At the time, Shiffrin was vocal in her support of Biles, telling the gymnast to never drop her smile. Shortly after Shiffrin's second disqualification, Biles returned the support in a short tweet: 

Russian figure skater who performed 1st Olympic quad tested positive for banned substance

Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian superstar who was expected to deliver her nation its third straight Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating, practiced as usual Thursday, hours after reports that she tested positive for a banned substance.

Valieva tested positive for a banned heart medication before the Beijing Games, the Russian newspaper RBC reported.

The sample was reportedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month in Estonia, a performance that solidified her status as the leader of Russia's “quad squad” of elite women's figure skaters.

Credit: AP
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, trains at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

It’s unclear if Russia is appealing or fighting the result. Her appearance at practice implies that the federation isn't accepting any finding that would eliminate her.

Valieva performed the first-ever quad jumps by a woman in Olympic competition, helping Russia -- competing at the Games as the Russian Olympic Committee -- to the gold medal in team figure skating. A positive test could cost Russia that gold and give it to the U.S. 

It could also threaten Valieva's chance to compete in the individual event next week, where she is the heavy favorite.

   

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