First came Tokyo, and now, Beijing. Both a Summer and Winter Games have come to a close in a little over six months time.
Like Tokyo 2020, there’s no doubt Beijing 2022 will be remembered for its amazing performances and top-tier competition. Sports fans are spoiled in the sense that we’ve come to expect those to happen at any Olympic Games. The enduring memories will come from the unexpected; the emotional moments which will be remembered long after the Olympic cauldron is extinguished.
Some of the world’s greatest athletes dared to go the extra mile with their actions, giving us tales of perseverance, sportsmanship, closure, joy, resilience, empathy, altruism, and love.
There was a little bit of everything in the Chinese capital. Here are some of the moments that made us laugh, cry, and cheer at Beijing 2022.
Reunited and it feels so good
It didn’t take long for the heartwarming moments to begin. In fact, the opening ceremony set the stage for one of the most touching memories of the Games – at least for all the lovebirds out there.
Tournaments, training camps and COVID-19 isolation kept Team Canada members Blayre Turnbull and Ryan Sommer apart for more than three months.
The 90-day plus separation wouldn’t be noteworthy given that Turnbull is a member of the Canada’s women’s hockey team and Sommer is a brakeman for the Canadian bobsleigh team. But there’s one not-so-tiny detail: they got engaged this past April.
“Name a cooler place to be reunited with your fiance after spending the last 3 months apart….I’ll wait,” Turnbull wrote in an Instagram post showing the couple hugging during the opening ceremony.
Other than couples, Team Canada was also home to athletes with family ties. They also delivered when it came to moving people to tears.
Sisters and freestyle skiiers Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe reminded everyone why sometimes there’s nothing like a sibling bond.
When Justine crashed in the moguls competition on Day 2, 2014 Olympic silver medallist Chloé felt her younger sister needed her help to deal with the obvious disappointment.
WATCH l Justine Dufour-Lapointe comforted by sister Chloé after crash:
“I felt right away her pain. I was like, ‘she needs me,'” Chloé said to CBC’s Alexandre Despatie. “I want her to know that I’m proud of her and she must be proud of herself. What she achieved was big. She went for it, that’s the main thing I wanted her to know.”
“I was so grateful to have my sister down there,” Justine said. “I don’t think I would have been able to hold myself like I did. Having people that you can trust that much and look in the eye and truly express how you feel for a couple of minutes was really reassuring and felt like everything was going to be OK.”
It’s a process
Short track speed skater Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que., was able to repeat her PyeongChang 2018 bronze medal in the 500-metres final on Day 3 in Beijing.
But the four years in between medals weren’t a walk in the park for the 27-year-old. In fact, Boutin believes she wouldn’t have been able to perform so well just less than a year ago.
“If we were seeing me eight months ago, I was not that Kim,” an emotional Boutin said. “I feel like that process, where I am right now, to feel in the eyes of my coaches that I was there… For me, that was the goal. To be happy on the ice, and I was.
“I’m proud of myself.”
Snowboarder Birk Ruud was one of the many athletes who contributed to Norway setting a new record for most gold medals won by a country in a single Winter Games at Beijing 2022.
When he captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in freeski big air on Day 5, someone very important and close to him wasn’t there to see it.
His father, Øivind, passed away from cancer in 2021.
With the event finished and the gold medal secured, Ruud gave us one of the most touching moments of these Games.
Rocking the Norwegian flag around his neck, the 21-year-old looked to the sky before casually dropping a beautiful left double bio 1440 mute to both celebrate his medal and, in the eyes of many, to pay tribute to his dad.
OLYMPIC HISTORY 🚨<br><br>What a victory lap for Birk Ruud 🇳🇴 after winning gold in the Olympic debut of ski big air 🥇 <a href=”https://t.co/wnDyt6aF84″>pic.twitter.com/wnDyt6aF84</a>
A very worthy farewell
American snowboarder Shaun White came to Beijing as a certified legend. During the Games, he announced he would leave the Chinese capital as a retired athlete. A very prestigious one.
The 35-year-old from San Diego, Calif., holds the records for most Olympic and X Games gold medals by a snowboarder.
In Beijing, he finished fourth in the halfpipe event on Day 6, just shy of a farewell podium finish. What would follow, however, felt at the very least just as special.
White received a standing ovation after the final run of his Olympci career, with many of those saluting him being athletes he helped inspire.
THE GREAT SHAUN WHITE EVERYBODY 👏👏 <br><br>Not the run he was looking for but <a href=”https://twitter.com/shaunwhite?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@shaunwhite</a> gets a standing ovation from the crowd as he steps off the slope at the Olympics for the last time <a href=”https://t.co/f5R678cf5e”>pic.twitter.com/f5R678cf5e</a>
“It was just giving it my all and truly enjoying every moment. It wasn’t so much about winning and hitting the podium,” he said after the event.
“It was more about squeezing the joy out of it.”
WATCH l Watch legendary snowboarder Shaun White’s Olympic swan song:
So. Many. Emotions.
Canada claimed a double podium on Day 3 with Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., earning gold and Regina’s Mark McMorris taking bronze.
Parrot earned silver at PyeongChang 2018 but was forced to miss the 2018-19 season after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He returned to Olympic competition after winning his battle against cancer, and became an Olympic champion.
Musical | Max Parrot soars to gold in slopestyle:
We also learned that he’ll soon become a father.
WATCH l Max Parrot adds ‘dad’ to his impressive list of accomplishments:
Despite the scoring drama that came after the event, Canadians everywhere had plenty to celebrate. Especially if they’re related to one of the medallists.
McMorris’ family lived through every bit of tension as their favourite athlete posted a bronze-medal run before celebrating the final landing that wrapped up an incredible performance.
And we were able to share the moment just like we were standing in their living room.
WATCH l The McMorris’ family reacts to a bronze-medal win in slopestyle:
Rise and shine
Meryeta O’Dine of Prince George, B.C., had an Olympics debut to remember.
After having to sit out of PyeongChang 2018 due to a concussion sustained days before her first event four years ago, the 24-year-old snowboard cross racer claimed not one but two bronze medals in Beijing.
Her second one, which came in the mixed event with partner Éliot Grondin of Sainte-Marie, Que., on Day 7, didn’t come without some drama.
O’Dine was knocked down mid-race by Italy’s Caterina Carpano, who landed on the Canadian’s head. They were both able to get back up and complete the course, with O’Dine edging Carpano by 5.52 seconds to win bronze.
WATCH | O’Dine lands on podium after competitor lands on her:
“I saw Caterina’s board going up and I was heading down and she kept going up and I was like, ‘okay, I’m about to get landed on in the final,'” O’Dine said.
“[I] dug my head into the snow, popped it up and realized that I was doing a little bit better than she was. I just instantly got up and started hiking up the jump to try and get on the podium.”
Camaraderie and fair play
But when four-time Olympian Xu Mengtao, who was very much born in the Chinese province of Liaoning, captured the women’s aerials freestyle skiing gold on Day 10, herself and Ashley Caldwell of the U.S. taught everyone who was watching a lesson of how to do better.
Caldwell finished that event without a medal to her name, in fourth place. It didn’t stop her from effusively congratulating “Tao-Tao”, her competitor, friend and now Olympic champion.
WATCH l Aerial skier welcomes congratulatory hug from competitor:
“I respect all the athletes out there, but they also, I feel like, respect me,” Caldwell said. “They know also how hard this is.”
Mengtao’s screams of joy were already something to see, but the hug definitely made the moment a memorable one.
Caldwell left Beijing with more than just memories. Shortly before that event, she won the gold medal in mixed team aerials, along with Christopher Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld. Mengtao earned silver with Jia Zongyang and Qi Guangpu.
Worth the wait
Canada had to wait eight long days for its second gold medal win at Beijing 2022.
When it finally came, on Day 11, it came with style.
They held off defending champions Japan, who had a solid lead until the very end when Nana Takagi crashed out and into the padding.
The Canadians’ reaction says it all about how much it meant to them, as well as a country that had gone more than midway through the Games having celebrated only a single homegrown Olympic champion.
WATCH l Watch Canada’s speed skaters’ reaction to becoming Olympic champions:
The honour was also manifestation at its finest.
Weidemann designed a “golden ticket” for herself and her two teammates, which they all kept in their wallets for months before flying to Beijing and cashing them in together.
WATCH l Weidemann designs ‘golden ticket’ to motivate team pursuit teammates:
Into the history books
Charles Hamelin’s fifth Olympics brought him his sixth medal.
The 37-year-old Sainte-Julie, Que., native secured the men’s 5,000-metre short-track relay gold medal on Day 12 along with teammates Steven Dubois, Jordan Pierre-Gilles, and Pascal Dion.
Hamelin, who’s expected to retire after the short track world championships in Montreal on March, wrapped up his Olympic career in fairy-tale fashion, giving Canadians everywhere a moment of pure joy from Beijing.
WATCH l Canada’s reaction after winning short-track gold will give you chills:
Powering through injuries
Another Canadian double podium, another remarkable comeback, and another love story in Beijing.
Cassie Sharpe of Comox, B.C., tore her ACL and MCL at the X Games just a year ago. Fast forward to China, it turns out the joke is on whoever counted her out of the Olympics.
“Exactly a year ago I had reconstructive ACL knee surgery in which they fractured my femur. It was just a crazy experience to go through that and the first three, four months after surgery I didn’t know if I would make it here,” Sharpe said.
Family members weren’t allowed in Beijing due to the pandemic, but Sharpe still managed to share a sweet moment with her partner Justin Dorey. That’s because he’s an Olympic halfpipe ski coach for Team Great Britain, being able to stand by her side after Sharpe’s podium-worthy run.
“I’m so happy with you” <br><br>Cassie Sharpe and her partner, Team GB coach Justin Dorey, share a moment after her silver medal performance ❤️ <a href=”https://t.co/w72YD51Hv8″>pic.twitter.com/w72YD51Hv8</a>
Getting a silver medal one year after a major knee injury is impressive enough. Now, how about doing it in 23 days?
Sofia Goggia of Italy did just that.
Weeks after sustaining a minor fracture and partial ACL tear in her left knee on January 23 in a World Cup super-G event in her native country, the 29-year-old grabbed the women’s downhill alpine skiing silver medal on Day 11.
“For me, the Olympic Games are everything. It’s my childhood dream,” Goggia, the 2018 Olympic champion, said. “I always knew in my heart that with the effort it took to come back from that crash, the race itself would be the easiest part.”
Goggia even found time to lend American Mikaela Shiffrin a pair of downhill skis with a special note that read “Fly Mika, you can.”
2022 downhill silver medalist <a href=”https://twitter.com/goggiasofia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@goggiasofia</a> left a note for <a href=”https://twitter.com/MikaelaShiffrin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MikaelaShiffrin</a> (along with her downhill skis) that read, “FLY MIKA, YOU CAN.” When she saw the note, Mikaela almost started crying. ❤️🙏<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StrongerTogether?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StrongerTogether</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9dD2KIdNAf”>pic.twitter.com/9dD2KIdNAf</a>
Shiffrin, one of the biggest Winter Olympic stars heading to Beijing 2022, endured a disappointing tournament.
Just one month after winning a record 47th career world cup slalom race, Shiffrin failed to capture a medal in any of her five events.
She leaves Beijing with three DNF (did not finish results) from the giant slalom, slalom and alpine combined – all events she has won a gold or silver medal at Sochi 2014 or PyeongChang 2018.
Seeing one of the brightest alpine skiing stars of all-time struggle in Beijing was as surprising or upsetting for those who like to see great athletes doing great things.
WATCH l Mikaela Shiffrin crashes out again, won’t claim individual medal at Beijing 2022:
Jones’ heartfelt moment
Canada entered the three Beijing 2022 curling tournaments leading the all-time Olympic medal table in the sport with 11 honours, but had to put up with a disappointing run in China.
Despite the let downs, the fair play spirit seems to be so deeply rooted into Team Canada was very much on display at all times.
Jones, who led the Canadian women’s curling team to an unbeaten gold-medal run in Sochi 2014, is the prime example.
In a now viral video, Jones emotionally hugs two Japanese players after the final round robin match while wishing them good luck.
Japan was heading to the semifinals while Canada was headed home. But that, of course, didn’t matter when it comes to sportsmanship.
Of course this is what Jennifer Jones would do after Japan clinched a playoff spot and Canada didn’t. <br><br>Incredible. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbccurl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cbccurl</a> <a href=”https://t.co/VbwWvhmwad”>https://t.co/VbwWvhmwad</a>
Few things in sports are as exciting as a major rivalry.
When it comes to Canada versus the U.S. in women’s hockey, it’s as special as it can get.
A pair of goals by infinitely clutch team captain Marie-Philip Poulin helped seal the payback for a loss in the final at PyeongChang 2018, when the Americans got the title in a shootout win.
It was clear it meant the victory meant the world to them both when the buzzer went off and when it was time to sing ‘O Canada’, with their new gold medals hanging around their necks.
WATCH l The moment Canada won Olympic hockey gold, from 15 different camera angles:
WATCH | Team Canada belts out national anthem after Olympic gold medal win:
Nothing but class
Above all medals and podiums, records and standings, the Olympics are about excellence, friendship and respect.
The three values of Olympism are what define the Games – and what we’ve seen displayed by Dutch speed skater Kai Verbij and cross-country skier Iivo Niskanen of Finland.
Verbij, the reigning world champion in the men’s 1,000m discipline, had a fraction of a second to make a crucial decision on Day 14. Stay in medal contention and risk messing up Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil’s race or pull back and leave Beijing without a medal.
“I didn’t feel I had enough speed to go before him in the lane change. So I had to quit. Otherwise, I would’ve been disqualified and probably messed up his race,” said Verbij after the event.
“I can’t say thank you enough to him,” Dubreuil said. “It was a really professional and classy move to do. He’s a friend, so when he’s gets over it — I’ll give him some time — I’ll thank him for sure.”
WATCH l Dutch speed skater’s sportsmanship helps Canada’s Dubreuil win silver:
Another example of true sportsmanship and class came from three-time Olympic champion Niskanen of Finland.
Once he captured the gold medal in the Olympic men’s 15km cross-country race on Day 9, Niskanen made sure to wait until last-place Carlos Andres Quintana of Colombia, making his Olympic debut at age 36, finished the race.
“Everyone worked hard to be here,” Niskanen said. “You have to show this kind of respect at the Olympics towards countries that don’t have much budget to get the best results, unlike the best nations.”
WATCH l Cross-country champion waits 17 minutes for last-place finisher:
Excellence, friendship and respect. Exactly what the Olympics are all about.