The 2022 Winter Olympics aren’t even at the halfway point, but we’ve already seen some incredible moments. From the heartwarming to the inspiring, here are some of our favorites so far.
A gold medal 16 years in the making
In 2006, Lindsey Jacobellis was one jump away from securing the gold medal in snowboardcross. With a sizable lead between her and the next-closest competitor, it looked like all but a guarantee. And then the unthinkable happened — she attempted a trick and fell. Tanja Frieden passed her and Jacobellis had to settle for the silver.
She competed in the next three Olympics, hoping to claim what had once seemed so tantalizing close, but never reached the podium.
At 36, and likely participating in her final Olympics, Jacobellis wasn’t a favorite to medal in 2022. But she took the lead early in the final — and never relinquished it. She crossed the finish line to win her first gold medal, and the first for Team USA in Beijing. She became the oldest U.S. woman athlete to win a medal of any kind at the Winter Olympics.
Three days later, she won a second gold medal — with teammate Nick Baumgartner in the Olympic debut of mixed snowboardcross.
Even most of her opponents were thrilled for her.
“For Lindsey to win in her fifth Games and be at the pinnacle of this sport so long and inspire so many young girls like me — she is the face of this sport,” her teammate Stacy Gaskill, 21, tearfully told The New York Times.
WHAT A MOMENT, @LindsJacobellis!
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 9, 2022
The admiration for Jacobellis wasn’t limited to her competitors. Reporting for NBC Connecticut, Jacobellis’ cousin Gabrielle Lucivero was in attendance at the race, and she couldn’t hide her emotion either in a live report.
“She’s my role model,” Lucivero said. “She’s done everything for me. She’s the reason I am doing what I do.”
Four years after his disappointment in Pyeongchang, Nathan Chen arrived in Beijing looking for a clean slate — and a coveted gold medal. He followed up a dominant short program in the team event with an even more impressive performance on the opening day of the men’s individual competition, earning the highest short program score of all time.
And on Thursday, with the eyes of the world on him, Chen delivered. The 22-year-old completed all five of his quadruple jumps and thrilled the crowd with his combination of athleticism, technical prowess and joy. He couldn’t hide his excitement when it was over, pointing emphatically to the crowd and putting his head in his hands as if he couldn’t believe the gold medal was finally his.
“It means the world,” Chen said later. “I’m just so happy.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) February 10, 2022
‘Like a fine French wine’
During his 19-year career, Johan Clarey had appeared in three Olympics and competed in 216 World Cup races. He had never won a race, nor stood on the Olympic podium. So entering his fourth Games in Beijing, Clarey — now 41 years old — wasn’t exactly considered a medal contender.
But he stunned the world with his performance in the downhill competition and won the silver medal. The Frenchman became the oldest Olympic medalist in Alpine skiing in history. And he didn’t just break the age record, he smashed it by five years.
But the impressive record was secondary for Clarey. Instead, the man nicknamed “Grandpa” by his teammates was just thrilled to see his lifelong dream come true.
“It’s just incredible,” he told the French media. “The best day of my career.”
He’s just getting better with age.
At 41, France’s Johan Clarey became the oldest #WinterOlympics Alpine Skiing medalist of all time.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 8, 2022
The first two races of Mikaela Shiffrin’s 2022 Olympic campaign didn’t go to plan, as she recorded two “did not finish” results in the slalom and grand slalom events. After lasting on the course for just five seconds before slipping in Wednesday’s slalom race, Shiffrin appeared devastated as she sat on the side of the course alone.
The next day her boyfriend and fellow Alpine skier, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who has won two medals in Beijing thus far, weighed in on social media with a supportive message alongside a photo of Shiffrin.
“The pressure we all put on individuals in the sports are enormous, so let’s give the same amount of support back,” Kilde wrote in part. “It’s all about the balance and we are just normal human beings!! I love you Kaela.”
Shiffrin then responded with a tweet of her own about Kilde, and we’re warning you, it will give you all the feels.
— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) February 9, 2022
On Friday, Shiffrin raced the super-G, finishing ninth in her first Olympic appearance in that race.
“I just skied strong, and it’s a really big relief to be here now in the finish, having skied a run well,” she said after. “I wasn’t skiing safe or anything, but I also did get to the finish and that’s really nice for my heart to know that it’s not totally abandoning everything I thought I knew about the sport.”
Make it a double
We won’t even write anything else before you watch this one. Trust us, if you haven’t yet seen it, it’s that good.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 10, 2022
The run earned her a 94 and all but ensured her the gold medal. With the top spot on the podium essentially secured, Kim used her second and third runs to attempt a 1260 — a trick no woman has ever successfully completed — and even posted on Instagram. She didn’t land the trick, but she gained the admiration of, well, everyone watching, including some fellow Olympians who were inspired by her well-known love for churros. (Like, same, right?)
I just ate churros to celebrate @ChloeKim!!!
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) February 10, 2022
Quick pause from skating to say CHLOE KIM!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need some of that churro energy in my life #winterolympics
— Ashley Wagner (@AshWagner2010) February 10, 2022
Chloe Kim!!! 👏🏽 Maybe I should start eating churros before competition too? 😂
— Gabby Thomas (@ItsGabrielleT) February 10, 2022
Chloe Kim. We are not worthy.
— Adam Rippon (@AdamRippon) February 10, 2022
The Olympic gene
In 1972, Barbara Ann Cochran took home Olympic gold in slalom.
Fifty years later, almost to the day, on another Olympic ski mountain, her son Ryan Cochran-Siegle earned a medal of his own in super-G. After a blistering-fast run, Cochran-Siegle nabbed the silver medal on Tuesday.
Perhaps even more incredible than the family dominance, Cochran-Siegle is just a year removed from a serious crash that resulted in a broken neck. But he proved his comeback was more than complete with his podium appearance and was just fractions of a second off the gold-medal time. He was emotional following his run when talking about what a medal would mean to him.
“Getting an Olympic medal is definitely a dream so it’d be pretty cool.”
Ryan Cochran-Siegle talks about carrying on his family’s Olympic legacy and bringing home an Olympic medal like his mother, Barbara, did at the 1972 Olympics. pic.twitter.com/eK5aZFcVKx
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 8, 2022
Cochran-Siegle later called it “the best second place I’ve ever had.”
That golden feeling
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott became the first athlete from New Zealand to win gold at a Winter Olympics with her victory in snowboard slopestyle. The 20-year-old put on a masterclass with what she called “the best run of my life” and scored a 92.88 to close out the competition.
It was clear she had won the event as soon as she finished, and she was immediately bombarded by the other two medalists, American Julia Marino and Australian Tess Coady, who tackled her to the ground in celebration. It was as wholesome as it sounds.
HISTORY FOR NEW ZEALAND! 🇳🇿
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 6, 2022
Sadowski-Synnott’s dad also became a global sensation with his immediately viral interview about her achievement. There is some (completely perfect and understandable) adult language in there — you’ve been warned.