Winter Olympics 2022: Recap all the action and results from Day 5

Snowboard cross star Belle Brockhoff has given an emotional postfinal interview, revealing the moment that ended her Olympic dream. Recap day five.

The face on Belle Brockhoff said a thousand words. She was at once shattered, utterly disappointed and cross. The Victorian,competing in her third Olympics was so dispirited she was unable to even look at her rivals, all of whom had just piped her for a medal in the final of the Beijing Olympic snowboard cross.

“I thought I wasn’t going to cry but here we are,” an emotional Brockhoff said after the race. “I had a shit training day yesterday, cracked my head, knocked the wind out of me, so was happy to get this far.”

Brockhoff finished in the most difficult position to reconcile: fourth. She had scrapped her way into the big final of four from a difficult seeding position having had problems with her start in the qualifying run, but she bravely sneaked her way through the rounds, the semifinal and then into the final.

Brockhoff (R) congratulates gold medallist Lindsey Jacobellis (L). Picture: Ezra Shaw/Getty
Brockhoff (R) congratulates gold medallist Lindsey Jacobellis (L). Picture: Ezra Shaw/Getty

Brockhoff didnt mince words afterwards, telling reporters at the bottom of the course:” Fourth is shit house, its shit. You are the loser of the big final, you know you miss the podium by that much.”

She revealed she had hit her head in training and had knocked the wind out of her lungs and in the lead up to the competition had argued with her coach and the sports pyschologist.

She added: “I had to dig deep and have a lot of fight, had to be lucky to make big final.”

If anyone wanted to know how Brockhoff felt about her earliest run, they only had to look on twitter: “Just laid down an appalling time trials hahahah fek. Full send in finals”, she wrote.

The final was her moment. In PyeongChang four years ago she had strugled with anknee injury that later required surgery. In Sochi she was the young puppy still coming to terms with coming out as gay, and dealing with a funding issue where young athletes were being sidelined.

Belle Brockhoff (L) finished second in her semi. Picture: Marco Bertorello/AFP
Belle Brockhoff (L) finished second in her semi. Picture: Marco Bertorello/AFP

So the Beijing Olympics was her time. And at every stage Brockhoff looked to have found a more comfortable line to avoid trouble and discovered extra speed. To make the semifinal she had clawed her way back from fourth into second in a heartstopping photo finish.

But in the final she was once again last out of the gate, starting on the far left on her toe edge, and she was unable to regain the lost territory. For Brockchoff to have any chance she needed her opponents to be elbowing and tripping over each other at the front, but it wasn’t to be.

“I hate blaming other shit I struggling on the left side so I tried with what I had,” Brockhoff said.

Lindsay Jacobellis, in her fifth Olympics, and famous for showboating on the final jump, crashing and losing the gold medal at the Turin Winter Olympics, won the Beijing gold medal easily clearing the field.

Chloe Trespeuch of France and Meryeta Odina of Canada filled out the placings and were beaming in the finish area, while Brockhoff was so upset at not being able to force a place on the podium.

Lydia Lassila in the commentary position had to console Brockhoff afterwards. Lassila said the two talked about going surfing, but she also advised her how to regroup for the teams event where she will double up with the PyeongChang Olympic champion Jarryd Hughes in a new event on the program, the teams event, which will take place on Saturday.

Halfpipe record holder our new cult hero

Australia has a new cult hero.

Teen snowboarder Valentino Guseli has qualified for the Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe at the Winter Olympics.

And while he may take a backseat to superstar Scotty James in the next round, the 16-year-old is a star in his own right, holding the official world record for the highest air on the halfpipe.

Guseli, who was in 17th position after his first run, qualified with an 85.75 on his final trip down the halfpipe.

“Valentino Guseli, throwing down a run that was way better than his first. We need it to get into the top 12. As we said, that score to beat is 57, we want him to go way past that,” Channel 7 commentor Mitch Tomlinson screamed.

“85.75! Valentino Guseli, we’re going to be seeing you and Scotty James in the final.”

James qualified second after battling the strong Japanese contingent with the multiple X-Games gold medallist desperate to better his Olympic bronze.

‘Wish dad was here’: Star's heartbreaking interview

Just months after coming under fire in the wake of Simone Biles’ mental health crusade, broascaster NBC is being slammed for its cruel treatment of Mikaela Shiffrin.

In the build up to Tokyo 2021, many felt NBC’s borderline obsession with Biles was part of the problem that ultimately pushed the superstar to withdrawing from competition.

Those close to the gymnast cited pressure and expectation as part of the reason she felt she could not mentally deliver and therefore compete.

Biles was widely praised for her decision to put her own well being first.

As Shiffrin’s Beijing Olympics campaign went from bad to worse as she slid out of the women’s slalom in which she was one of the big favourites, NBC camera's hoverred around the devastated star as she dealt with the reaity that her campaign was not going to plan.

The American, who lasted just four gates in a shock exit from the giant slalom earlier this week, managed just two in the slalom before skiing out.

“I feel a lot of disappointment. My performance is a huge letdown so far,” Shiffrin said.“Today I wish there had been a little more space and more time.” Shiffrin, a double Olympic gold medallist, said she felt “pretty awful”, although she added: “It won’t feel awful for ever. I just feel pretty low right now.”

“I’ve never been in this position before and I don’t know how to handle it,” she admitted.

“It hurts but in 24 hours nobody will care,” she added.

“I’m not scared to feel weighed down by some expectation,” she said. “I have three medals and they’re still in my closet. There’s so much to be optimistic about.”

“Pretty much everything makes me second-guess the last 15 years,” she added.

“Everything I thought I knew about my own skiing, and slalom and racing mentality. Just processing a lot for sure.”

She is a four-time world slalom champion and gold medallist at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, so pressure was high heading into Beijing.

The way NBC forced her to immediately conduct an interview and called her performance an “Olympic disappointment” prompted an outpouring of fury on social media.

Shiffrin has endured a tough few years following the death of her father which left her doubting if she would even compete again.

Jeff Shiffrin died in an accident in 2019.

“As hard as it is right now, it’s not comparable to some of the worse things I’ve experienced,” a tearful Shiffrin said.

“Right now I’d like to call him (her father) so that doesn’t make it much easier.

“He’d probably tell me to get over it. But he’s not here to say that so on top of everything else I’m pretty angry with him too.”

‘AMERICAN TRAITOR’ SLAMS HER ‘UNEDUCATED’ CRITICS

She might be just 18-years-old but Eileen Gu has found herself at the centre of political power plays as she competes for China at the Winter Olympics after defecting from the USA.

Born in California, the skier switched allegiance from the United States to China in 2019.That move has earned her a huge following in China where expectations are high. Heading into her first Olympics, Gu wrote on Instagram that her goals are to “simply do my best, enjoy the process, and continue to inspire others”.

She has already won one gold medal and could claim two more, but she has been slammed by US fans as an ‘American traitor’ who are furious with her decision to compete under the Chinese flag.

She has little to say to these “uneducated” people.

Despite the enormous focus and criticism, Gu was cool calm and collected - as well as opinionated - in her press conference in Beijing.

“I’m American when I’m in the US, and I’m Chinese when I’m in China,” Gu said. “I have been very outspoken about my gratitude to both the US and China for making me the person I am.”

“My mission is to use sport as a force for unity, to use it as a form to foster interconnection between countries, and not use it as a divisive force..

“That benefits everyone, and if you disagree with that, then that’s someone else’s problem.

“Here’s the thing — I’m not trying to keep anyone happy,” Gu said. “I’m an 18-year-old girl living my best life. I’m having a great time. It doesn’t really matter if other people are happy or not.

“I’m not going to waste my time trying to placate people who are one uneducated and two never going to experience the joy and love I have the great fortune of experiencing.

“If people don’t believe me or if people don’t like me, then that’s their loss.

“They’re never going to win the Olympics, so.”

CHINESE ‘CHEATING’ DESTROYING OLYMPICS

An angry South Korea said Tuesday that they will appeal to sport’s top court over “unfair” officiating in short track speed skating at the Beijing Winter Olympics after two gold medal hopes were disqualified.

In Monday’s men’s 1,000-metre semifinals, world record holder Hwang Dae-heon and Lee June-seo were disqualified for illegal late passing and lane-changing respectively, having coming first and second in their heats.

The decisions allowed two Chinese skaters to advance to the final, with the host country collecting gold and silver.

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) said it would file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) “to formalise the injustice of this decision”.

FOLLOW ALL TODAY’S WINTER OLYMPICS ACTION HERE

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 08: Silver medallist Wenlong Li of Team China receives their medal during the Men's 1000m Speed Skating medal ceremony on Day 4 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Beijing Medal Plaza on February 08, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 08: Silver medallist Wenlong Li of Team China receives their medal during the Men's 1000m Speed Skating medal ceremony on Day 4 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Beijing Medal Plaza on February 08, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

“We plan to do our best to prevent injustice from happening to our athletes in the international ice skating and sporting communities,” KSOC said in a statement.

The penalties enraged South Koreans, with many claiming the refereeing was biased.

One online user called the officiating “horrible”, adding: “It’s only making decisions that are extremely in favour of China.” South Korea lodged a protest with the International Skating Union over Hwang’s fate, but that was rejected as disqualification for rule violations cannot be challenged.

Hungary also filed a protest after Liu Shaolin Sandor received a yellow card for two penalties in the 1,000m final, but it was also rejected.

In Beijing, the South Korean team called a press conference to express their outrage.

“I believe our athletes all played fairly and I believe they are the winners,” said chef de mission Yoon Hong-geun, adding they had demanded a meeting with the International Olympic Committee.

Just who should have been disqualified here?
Just who should have been disqualified here?

“We hope that such things will never ever happen again in the future,” added Yoon.

Speaking before the Korean press conference, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said it was “a field of play issue” and there had been “no formal communication” with the Korean team.

South Korean media has also lashed out. The New York Times reports Korean broadcaster SBS aired a segment titled “Top 10 worst moments of cheating by China” and a newspaper in Seoul published an article where the headline read: “Just let China take all the medals.”

Speaking before the Korean press conference, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said it was “a field of play issue” and there had been “no formal communication” with the Korean team.

South Korean speed skater Kwak Yoon-gy was livid at the officiating and spoke his mind after China won gold in the mixed team relay.

The host nation finished third in its semi-final but still advanced to the decider after Russia (ROC) and the USA were disqualified for obstruction and blocking, while South Korea was eliminated in a different race. Kwak said China should have been disqualified too.

“Looking at the way China won the gold medal, I felt bad that my younger teammates had to watch something like that,” Kwak said, per the Yonhap news agency.

“I thought to myself, ‘Is this really what winning a gold medal is all about?’ Things all just felt very hollow.

“I was watching that race unfold. I figured China, ROC and the US would get penalised. The Dutch skaters who were watching it with me said the same thing.

“But as the review dragged on, I figured China was going to be allowed to progress. And when the call was finally made, I found it difficult to accept it.

“If it had been any other country than China in that situation, I wondered if that team would still have been allowed to reach the final like that?

“I felt that could have been us at the wrong end of all this.

“I thought about how upsetting and frustrating it would have been if we’d been a part of that.”

Kwak’s criticism came as some speculated Chinese skater Ren Ziwei received favourable treatment in his clash with Liu Shaolin Sandor in the men’s 1000m final. Ren appeared to grab Shaolin Sandor across the chest as they crossed the finish line, and the result went to review as officials checked for other penalties.

The Hungarian was ultimately disqualified but social media users pointed at photos of the tussle and questioned if Ren — who won gold — should have been penalised instead for initiating contact with his rival.

OUTSPOKEN AUSSIE WILL TIME HER SPEECH

Belle Brockhoff has always had something to say.

She’s outspoken with strong beliefs, endearingly so.

But at these Beijing Olympics she wants to perform first, speak second.

The political repercussions of having a pointed view on a wide range of topics, let’s see there’s – Peng Shuai, Covid restrictions, human rights, the gay movement – are not to be underestimated.

Scores of competitors are being locked up in isolation rooms, even missing Olympic events under strict Chinese rules.

Thousands of athletes face daily swabs down their throats and having to live within the highly restrictive closed loop: an imposing high wired prison-like existence that allows monitored movement between the Olympic village and the venue only.

Athletes are being flown in shortly before competition and Brockhoff will be home well before the closing ceremony on February 20. Athletes are on edge about saying about anything really.

Belle Brockhoff preparing for the Winter Olympics at the Secret Garden Resort in China.
Belle Brockhoff preparing for the Winter Olympics at the Secret Garden Resort in China.

Brockhoff, now 27, has the experience of two previous Olympic Games to draw upon and she feels, finally, it’s her time on snow. She says she won’t be muzzled, but perhaps any thoughts might be kept until arriving at Tullamarine.

“I am feeling nervous but very excited,’’ she told News Corp Australia, not just for her individual event, but the mixed team event, where she is world champion, linking up with Olympic gold medallist Jarryd Hughes in that event’s Olympic debut on Saturday.

The individual snowboard cross event starts Wednesday.

Belle Brockhoff says she’s nervous but excited.
Belle Brockhoff says she’s nervous but excited.
Belle Brockhoff says she’s feeling the pressure of a nation.
Belle Brockhoff says she’s feeling the pressure of a nation.

Brockhoff spoke of the Beijing Olympics “being a weird games” yet it offers her the best chance of success, ranked world number three with recent silver medal at Montafon, Austria and bronze in Cervinia, Italy.

“In PyeongChang I was injured and my first Games in Sochi I was new to the sport and quite the puppy, I had fun and gave it a red hot go, but now I have never had so much support,’’ she said.

“I feel the pressure from the Australian public more than ever, but what Tokyo Olympics did for the Australian public, giving happiness to people especially in Victoria, I really feel people are looking for the same from the Winter Olympics.’’

Belle Brockhoff says she’s capable of winning in Beijing.
Belle Brockhoff says she’s capable of winning in Beijing.

She said her event – the helter skelter free for all from the top of the mountain and where competitors push and shove to get to the bottom first – was one where she had to keep a clear head, eliminate any other emotions and let her body react to the course.

While she missed most of 2018 and 2019 recovering from surgery, Brockhoff said her troublesome knee feels strong.

“I can win, I feel if I ride my best I will be there, there are so many factors in it,’’ she said.

But her rivals have been able to enjoy more of the Covid-impacted season and are race fit.

“I haven’t had as much time on snow, I have a bit to catch up, but I am going to be the stronger racer,’’ she said.

Originally published as Winter Olympics 2022: Recap all the action and results from Day 5

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