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WINTER OLYMPICS 2022

Beijing Olympics: Saturday schedule with first medals up for grabs

A look at the events set to dominate the opening Saturday of this Winter Olympics, as the first medals go on the line.

Update:
Beijing Olympics: Saturday schedule with first medals up for grabs
DeFodi Images via Getty Images

After the bright lights, the pageantry and the controversy of the opening ceremony, the first medals of Beijing's Winter Olympics will be won on Saturday.

There is gold, silver and bronze glory up for grabs across a range of skiing and skating events.

Here's a rundown of the medal events taking place in Beijing on Saturday.

Biathlon

The mixed relay is the first medal event at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre, with the 4 x 6km getting under way late in the day.

Norway, Belarus, France, Sweden and Russian Olympic Committee are among the titans in this discipline, so one of those would appear likely to strike gold, with 20 teams entered for the event that mixes cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.

Cross-country skiing

The women's skiathlon at Zhangjiakou sees competitors complete 7.5 kilometres in the classic cross-country format before switching to skate skis for the final 7.5km stretch.

Russian Olympic Committee's Natalia Nepryaeva and Sweden's Frida Karlsson are likely gold medal contenders here, with Norway's Therese Johaug and another Swede, Ebba Andersson, also in the mix.

Freestyle skiing

Canada's Mikael Kingsbury is favourite to top the podium in the men's moguls, one of the most eye-catching sports at the Games. The defending champion began his Beijing 2022 campaign with a flawless run in qualifying for Saturday's final, and is the one to beat.

Kingsbury broke two vertebrae in his back in 2020, but he rebounded to win double gold at the 2021 World Championships, his speed over the bumps and mastery of the aerials an effective combination.

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 03: Mikael Kingsbury of Team Canada competes during the Men's Freestyle Skiing Moguls Qualification during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Genting Snow Park on February 03, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Camer
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ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 03: Mikael Kingsbury of Team Canada competes during the Men's Freestyle Skiing Moguls Qualification during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Genting Snow Park on February 03, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by CamerCameron SpencerGetty Images

Short track speed skating

The mixed team relay could be where China secure a first gold medal of the Beijing Games. Netherlands and Russian Olympic Committee will likely be in with a shout too, but China led the recent World Cup standings with two wins from four races, plus podium finishes when they missed out on first place.

There are quarter-finals and semi-finals to negotiate, however, as the event makes its debut on the Olympic programme.

Ski jumping

Austria's Marita Kramer was expected to be a leading contender for gold in Saturday's women's normal hill event, but testing positive for covid-19 has kept her out of the Games.

Calling a likely champion in her absence is a tough call, but Japan's Sara Takanashi, who has won 61 World Cup events, has to be in the conversation. This is her third Olympics, with Takanashi looking to improve on her bronze from Pyeongchang. Slovenian Ursa Bogataj and Germany's Katharina Althaus are in form, and both will fancy their chances.

Speed skating

The women's 3,000 metres features five-time gold medallist Claudia Pechstein, the 49-year-old German who has nine Olympic medals in all. Don't expect her to land a podium finish this time, given that last happened in 2006.

Czech world record holder and three-time Olympic champion Martina Sablikova is in the field, while Netherlands' Irene Schouten has strong credentials, along with her countrywoman Antoinette de Jong and Canada's Isabelle Weidemann.

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