Winter Olympics 2022
Strolz wins surprise gold to follow in his father's footsteps
Some 34 years after his father Hubert won gold in the Alpine combined race, Austria's Johannes Strolz repeated the feat in Beijing.
Johannes Strolz was a surprise winner in the Alpine combined race on Thursday, as he repeated his father's Olympic achievement.
Hubert Strolz took gold in the same event at Calgary 1988 and his son made it something of a family tradition at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre. Strolz was half a second quicker than anyone else in the slalom and combined with his fourth-best time in the downhill run, it meant he edged out Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde by just over half a second.
It completes a fairytale for the unheralded Austrian, who seemed destined to miss out on the team heading to Beijing after he had his funding cut last year. Strolz juggled training while working as a police officer to help keep up his income, yet the 29-year-old is now an Olympic champion. He had a helping hand from compatriot Matthias Mayer, who is a three-time Olympic gold medallist having won the super-G earlier this week, as he lent Strolz some downhill skis to add further charm to a remarkable tale.
"I think I'm a good example of never giving up," said Strolz, who finished only three of 10 World Cup events last season. "If you believe in yourself, you have to take your chance and keep going."
Johaug, Schouten double up
Therese Johaug claimed the first gold of the Beijing Games and the Norwegian doubled her personal tally by coming out on top in the women's 10km classic at the National Cross-Country Skiing Centre. Johaug – who missed the 2018 Games due to a doping ban – beat Finland's Kerttu Niskanen by just 0.4 seconds in an incredibly tight finish. Krista Paramoski, also of Finland, took bronze.
"It was a close race with the Finnish girls but I was feeling really well at the end of the race. It's so much more fun to stand at the top of the podium when you know that you have won a big fight out there," Johaug said. "It's a crazy feeling when you’re standing there and you realise it goes your way – 0.4, it's so close."
Irene Schouten, meanwhile, completed a clean sweep of the women's speed skating distance events, setting another Olympic record in the process. The Dutchwoman triumphed in the 5,000m race, having previously won the 3,000m on Saturday, in which she set a record. Her time of 6:43.51 on Thursday smashed the Olympic record previously set by Claudia Pechstein (6:46.91) in 2002.
"Schouten is incredible," said silver medallist Isabelle Weidemann. "Just watching her skate, she takes the level up so much. I hope in the future I can push her time and push the event even more. The faster more women can go, the better."
Golden day for Team USA
Nathan Chen capped off a productive day for the United States as he took gold in the men's single free skating. "I never really felt I'd be able to make it this far in my career," Chen said. "I'd always of course dream about making the Olympics and winning the Olympics, but I [thought], 'That's hard, I don't know if I can make that happen."
Chen endured a dreadful Olympic debut in 2018 but stormed to the gold medal this time around with a score of 332.60, winning by over 22 points ahead of Japanese duo Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno.
Team USA's brilliant day began when Chloe Kim made history by becoming the first woman to win two Winter Olympics gold medals in the snowboard halfpipe event, while they also took gold in the freestyle skiing mixed team aerials final. Their men's ice hockey team, meanwhile, hammered hosts China 8-0.