Winter Olympics recap: Jessie Diggins wins Team USA's final medal, Finland wins men's hockey gold - USA TODAY

Just like that, all 109 medal events at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have been handed out. 
On the final day of competition Sunday, cross-country skier Jessie Diggins claimed her second medal of these Games, a silver in the women’s 30-kilometer mass start.
(Looking for a recap of Saturday’s action? We have you covered.)
Diggins, who also won a bronze earlier these Games in the women’s sprint, gave Team USA its 25th overall medal in Beijing.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Alpine ski team came agonizingly close to a medal of its own, making it through two rounds of the mixed team competition before losing to Germany in the semifinals and Norway in the bronze-medal race.
It marked yet another disappointment for two-time Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, who came to Beijing with the possibility of winning six medals and ended up going home with none.
In the final event of this year’s Games, Finland denied Russia’s chance to repeat as gold medalists in men’s hockey, beating the ROC 2-1 for its first Olympic championship. 
The Beijing Olympics will wrap up with the closing ceremony at 7 a.m. ET Sunday (rebroadcast Sunday night on NBC).
TV SCHEDULE: What and how to watch Saturday night and early Sunday in Beijing
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USA MEDAL COUNT: Full list of every medal won by Team USA at Beijing Games
WHO LEADS THE MEDAL COUNT? How each country performed at the Winter Games
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was greeted by cheering fans when she arrived at the Moscow airport.
She’s returning home to a country where public figures and news outlets have mounted a vigorous defense of their 15-year-old phenom since her fourth-place finish at the Winter Games on Thursday night – while also firing back at the International Olympic Committee and its president, Thomas Bach.
“Valieva off the podium – a tragedy for which the IOC should be ashamed,” reads the translation of one Russian headline from Sport-Express, a daily newspaper in Russia.
“Don’t let evil adults cripple you,” the same outlet wrote to Valieva in a separate article, also translated from Russian. “Turn on the instinct of self-preservation.”
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was greeted by cheering fans when she arrived at the Moscow airport.

Silver medal speedskater Konstantin Ivliev says the Russian team gave its support to the 15-year-old who fell multiple times in her final skate of #Beijing2022. pic.twitter.com/hcqU753run
The reaction in Russia to Valieva’s performance has, by and large, been overwhelmingly sympathetic and staunchly defensive. 
Valieva has long received public support in Russia, despite news that she tested positive for a banned heart medication that can increase endurance and blood flow. Valieva’s defense argued that the substance, trimetazidine, must have accidentally gotten into her system through a product her grandfather takes.
The state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Center said that in a survey of Russian citizens, 62% believed the investigation into her case was “biased,” while 57% believe “that our athletes do not use illegal drugs or do it less often than others.”
Part of the ire has been directed at Western reporters covering the story, and the IOC.
— Tom Schad
Contributing: Associated Press
BEIJING – Jessie Diggins fought to the finish and collapsed from exhaustion, physically spent after claiming Team USA’s final Olympic medal of the Beijing Games, a silver in the women’s 30-kilometer race Sunday.
The podium seemed out of reach just 30 hours earlier, when Diggins said she was sick from food poisoning “which is why I thought I was going to die at the finish line.
“I don’t know how I made it to the finish. It was amazing,” she said.
Competing in the longest distance for women at the Olympics, Diggins revealed that her legs were cramping late in the race that took her 1 hour, 26 minutes and 37 seconds to complete. The 30-year-old from Afton, Minnesota, finished 1 minute, 43 seconds behind Therese Johaug of Norway, who claimed her third gold in Beijing.
“Every last drop of energy went into that race, that’s for sure,” Diggins said. “The last two laps my legs were cramping so I just kept trying to drink as much as I could. We had amazing cheering out there, and I was like ‘I just can’t give up. I have to put everything I have into the snow today and finish with nothing left. Maybe I can hold on to a medal, maybe not, but I have to try.’ “
Diggins’ silver was the 25th Olympic medal for the U.S. team in Beijing, topping the 23 the Americans won four years ago in Pyeongchang. 
This is the third career medal for Diggins, who cemented her status as the most successful American skier in her sport in Olympic history, now with gold-silver-bronze to her name. She is the first non-European skier to win an Olympic medal in the women’s 30K.
“I just tried to ski smart and then I wanted to ski a gutsy race, so when Therese went, I tried to go with her and I couldn’t stay,” Diggins said. “So then I thought I would just put my head down and ski my own race.
“That might have been the best race of my entire life, I’m not going to lie.” 
— Roxanna Scott
Contributing: Associated Press
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Eileen Gu doesn’t just talk about being both Chinese and American. The three-time Olympic medalist credits support for both countries for helping her be successful during the Beijing Games.
Before qualifying for the halfpipe, Gu had lunch with Sophie Goldschmidt, CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and Ni Huizhong, director general of China’s Winter Sports Administration.
“We were all eating together and they were saying collaboration, we want to collaborate more in the future. Eileen is a bridge for us,” Gu said. “We’re going to be able to do this together and we’re going to train together and do all this stuff in the future. In that sense, I feel like they have both supported me so much.”
The 18-year-old was part of the U.S. program before she decided in 2019 to compete for China, where her mother, Yan, is from. Gu was born and raised in San Francisco, though she spends time each year in China and is fluent in Mandarin.
“It was just sort of a thank you,” Goldschmidt said. “They were basically very keen to thank U.S. Ski & Snowboard for how we’ve supported Eileen. Both Eileen and her mother and the Chinese snow sports … federation are very appreciative that we’ve continued to embrace her, allow her to train as appropriate with our team.”
Goldschmidt said they did not get into specifics of future arrangements, though Gu has trained with the U.S. team in the past and competed in U.S. Ski & Snowboard events. She said the federation is open to doing so in the future, especially if U.S. athletes can benefit from training with Gu.
Gu became the star of these Games after winning gold in both halfpipe and big air to go with the silver she won in slopestyle.
“I have stayed in touch with all of them,” Gu said. “When I’m at the top, I’m high fiving the U.S. team coaches. I’m high fiving my own coaches. And I just want everybody to do the best they can.”
— Rachel Axon
BEIJING — “Finn-ally!”
For the first time ever, Finland is on top of the men’s Olympic hockey world.
The Finns defeated Russia 2-1 on Sunday, the final day of the Beijing Games, to claim the gold and deny Russia a second straight gold in men’s hockey.  
Hannes Bjorninen’s goal 31 seconds into the third period proved to be the game-winner – and also provided a bit of redemption.  
At 26, Bjorninen was the team’s youngest player on an experienced Finnish roster that included former NHL players such as Sami Vatanen, Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula. Bjorninen’s high stick sent him to the penalty box seven minutes into the game, and his team went down 1-0 18 seconds later.
With the one-skater advantage, Russia forward Mikhail Grigorenko – who also spent time in the NHL – sauntered down to the right circle and put one past Finland goaltender Harri Sateri.
Finland peppered Russia goaltender Ivan Fedotov with 15 first-period shots, but the 25-year-old remained unfazed and kept the Finns off the board.
That was, until Ville Pokka scored off a shot from the right boards that Fedotov never saw because of Saku Maenalanen’s screen in front of the net. The goal tied the game 3:28 into the second and the score remained knotted at 1 through the period.
Russia won the 2018 gold over Germany in Pyeongchang, a tournament that also did not include NHL players. The 2022 Olympics expected to include NHL players before the league pulled out in January due to COVID-19-related disruptions to the schedule.
Finland had medaled six times in the Olympics with two silvers (1988 Calgary, 2006 Turin) and four bronzes (1994 Lillehammer, 1998 Nagano, 2010 Vancouver, 2014 Sochi).  
— Chris Bumbaca
BEIJING — Ville Pokka scored off a shot from the right boards that  Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov never saw because of Saku Maenalanen’s screen in front of the net. The goal tied the game to 3:28 into the second and the score remained knotted at 1 after the second period.
If no one can break through in the third period, a 3-on-3, 10-minute sudden-death overtime will follow.
— Chris Bumbaca
BEIJING – Jessie Diggins fought to the finish, claiming Team USA’s final Olympic medal of the Beijing Games, a silver in the women’s 30-kilometer event Sunday.
With a fierce wind on the last day of the Games, Diggins finished 1:26.37 behind Therese Johaug of Norway, who claimed her fifth career Olympic medal, and third gold in Beijing. American Rosie Brennan finished sixth. 
It was the 25th Olympic medal for the U.S. team in Beijing. 
This is the third career medal for Diggins, who cemented her status as the most successful American skier in her sport in Olympic history, now with gold-silver-bronze to her name. 
— Roxanna Scott
BEIJING — Compared to the college-heavy roster of Americans in the men’s hockey tournament, Finland went with a more experienced roster in Beijing. Hannes Bjorninen, 26, is their youngest player. His high stick sent him to the sin bin seven minutes into the gold-medal game against Russia, and his team went down 18 seconds later.
With the one-skater advantage, Russia forward Mikhail Grigorenko sauntered down to the right circle and put one past Finland goaltender Harri Sateri to make it 1-0.
Finland peppered Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov with 15 first-period shots, but the 25-year-old remained unfazed and kept the Finns off the board.
Russia is looking to repeat as Olympic champions after winning the 2018 gold over Germany in PyeongChang, a tournament that also did not include NHL players.
— Chris Bumbaca
BEIJING — Mikaela Shiffrin will leave the Beijing Olympics empty-handed.
Shiffrin and the Americans lost to Norway in the bronze-medal race of the Alpine team event Sunday. Each country won two races in the final, but Norway won based on the better overall time.  
It was yet another unfulfilling ending for the two-time Olympic champion, who had wanted to do the team event so badly she changed her departure from Beijing after high winds pushed the race back a day
Shiffrin has three medals from her first two Olympic appearances, two golds and a silver, and was expected to contend for several more here. But she only finished two of her individual events, recording Did Not Finishes in the giant slalom, slalom and Alpine combined, her best events. 
She finished ninth in the super-G and was 18th in the downhill. 
— Nancy Armour
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – It was so windy, and cold, and hard to see, it was dangerous for action sports stars.
The weather in the mountain zones of the Beijing Winter Olympics had teeth Saturday.
For perspective, the Hebei Zhangjiakou Shangyi Wind Farm is up here at the same venue as the freestyle skiing sports, and according to China Daily, it is the richest solar and wind energy resource in north China. 
On Saturday, maybe that number was more impressive.
It varied, but competition temperatures hovered around minus-9 Fahrenheit, but with the wind it felt like minus-25. Wind gusts varied from 17-30 mph, according to the weather app from Chongli.
At Yanqing, the start of the Alpine mixed team event was delayed twice in hopes the winds would die down. Organizers later announced they would try again Sunday morning, despite the forecast calling for more high winds.
— Lori Nickel
BEIJING – Moments before the final run Saturday night, another Olympic medal well within her grasp, Elana Meyers Taylor took a moment to process that it might well be her last time in a bobsled.  
“I felt like I was going to cry actually,” she said. “If this is the end, I really just want to enjoy it. If it is the last time I’m in the sled, and if it is my last Olympics run, I wanted to go out the way I wanted to.” 
When Meyers Taylor and brakeman Sylvia Hoffman reached the bottom of the track at Yanqing Sliding Center, having put down a flawless run that guaranteed a medal, her reaction said it all. Meyers Taylor threw her fist in the air and hopped out of the sled, gave Hoffman a huge hug and celebrated in front of her supporters with Team USA.  
If this was the 37-year old’s final Olympics, it was one she couldn’t have been prouder of.  
“It’s been a really long Olympics, a really long season, a long four years,” she said. “Part of it was just relief to come down and cross the line and have another medal. It was also just being excited. We put in a lot of work for this.”
— Dan Wolken
BEIJING — The nine U.S. figure skaters who won silver medals in the team event at the 2022 Winter Olympics felt so strongly about receiving those medals before the end of the Games that they took the matter to court.
But they did not succeed.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced late Saturday night that it rejected the appeal the Americans filed earlier in the day, which would have forced the International Olympic Committee to hold a public medal ceremony for the team event before Sunday night’s closing ceremony.
CAS said in a news release that the hearing took place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Beijing, by video conference. It announced the decision of its panel of arbitrators but little else. A full report on the decision is expected within the coming week.
— Tom Schad
Thanks to a silver and bronze from freeskiers David Wise and Alex Ferriera, along with a silver from bobsledders Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman, the United States boosted its medal total in Beijing to 24 with one day of competition remaining.
Team USA is tied with Germany for fourth in the overall medal count, behind Canada (25), the Russian Olympic Committee (31) and Norway (35).
The Norwegians also lead in gold medals with 15. Germany is second with 11, China is  third with nine and the USA is tied for fourth with eight golds.

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