olympic disappointments

Team USA's Biggest Disappointments at the 2022 Winter Olympics

The most heart-wrenching moments of the 2022 Beijing Games

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

With lofty expectations, comes occasional disappointment. 

And the predictions for Team USA’s triumph left quite a bit of pressure on the athletes going into competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. As a result, performances resulted in medal-winning performances and world-record breaking moments and, other times, ended in utter failure.

The 2022 Games showcased some of the most decorated talent we’ve seen in ages, therefore the disappointments were unexpected and heart-wrenching.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest disappointments that took place during the 2022 Beijing Games:

The longest it's ever taken the U.S. to win a gold medal

Team USA competed for five days before securing any gold Olympic hardware at this year’s Games. Julia Marino earned the U.S. their first medal after winning silver in women’s snowboard slopestyle on the first Saturday of the Games; however, gold did not come until later. Lindsey Jacobellis broke the gold-less streak after clinching first place in women’s snowboard cross.

Then again, this was just the longest it took Team USA to clinch gold in the twenty-first century. Back in 1939 at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games, the U.S. lacked gold for nine whole days of the competition. Similarly, in the 1988 Calgary Games, seven days passed before the U.S. clinched hardware for a win.

Mikaela Shiffrin’s three ‘ski outs’

American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin is a three-time Olympic medalist, but her performance at the 2022 Games definitely rocked her world. The 26-year-old entered the Games as a heavy medal favorite, but her first two runs and her last run ended in disqualifications or DNFs (‘did not finish run’). 

She competed in six events and “skied out” of three of them, including giant slalom, women’s slalom and women’s combined. Shiffrin made a comeback during her third and fourth events, placing ninth in super-G and 18th in downhill, respectively. During the mixed team parallel event, the U.S. fell just a hair short of the bronze after losing to Norway in a tiebreaker. Ultimately Shiffrin, the defending Olympic silver medalist and World champion, fell short of her Olympic dreams and earned no place on the podium for any individual event. 

Shaun White comes up just short of podium in final career run

In the midst of the Games, snowboard legend Shaun White announced that his performance in men’s halfpipe would be his last Olympic run. And though his final run left him in fourth place, just shy of the podium, he exited the slope with class and gratitude.

The 35-year-old California native has three Olympic medals under his belt. He clinched gold in men’s halfpipe in the 2006 Torino Games, the 2010 Vancouver Games and the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

U.S. fourth place finishers, just shy of the podium

  • Ashley Caldwell – women’s aerials
  • Evan Bates and Madison Chock – ice dance
  • Joey Mantia – men’s mass start (speed skating)
  • Shaun White – men’s halfpipe (snowboarding)
  • Rosie Brennan – women’s individual sprint (cross-country skiing)
  • John Shuster, Chris Plys, Colin Hufman, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner – men’s curling
  • Kristen Santos – women’s 1000m (short track)
  • Mia Manganello Kilburg – women’s mass start (speed skating)
  • River Radamus – men’s giant slalom
  • Red Gerard – men’s slopestyle (snowboarding)
  • Mikaela Shiffrin, River Radamus, Paula Moltzan and Tommy Ford - mixed team parallel event (alpine skiing)

U.S.-born figure skater falls in Olympic debut

Nineteen-year-old figure skater Zhu Yi made her Olympic debut this year and the backlash she received was brutal.

The American-born skater renounced her U.S. citizenship so that she could compete for China. During the women’s short program event, Yi fell several times and failed to land a jump during her performance. She finished with the lowest score of the event, which ultimately knocked China down from third to fifth place at the Games. 

Yi was slammed on China’s social media platform Weibo, following her short program debut. The hashtag “Zhu Yi has fallen” became a trending topic and the skater’s lackluster performance received 33 million views within a few hours.

Kamila Valieva doping scandal

ROC’s Kamila Valieva, 15, placed first in the women’s short program after landing the first quadruple jumps by a woman at the Olympics. She contributed to the ROC’s gold medal win in the figure skating team event.

But there was more going on despite Valieva’s stunning performances. The young athlete was involved in a doping scandal during a majority of the Games. News leaked that Valieva tested positive for a banned heart medication in December at the Russian Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia. The drug she tested positive for, trimetazidine, was added to a World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list in 2014.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ultimately upheld the IOC’s decision to permit Valieva to compete in the women’s free skate final where she eventually finished in fourth place and missed the podium. 

Valieva had entered as the event’s favorite. 

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