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2022 Olympics – Americans show courage, winning 13 of 16 American medals so far

Elana Meyers Taylor slapped the front of her bobsleigh as soon as she slowed down at the finish line. She placed her hands on the front of her helmet, tilting her head. When she looked up, she had the biggest smile on her face.

“We did it,” she shouted.

She finished 0.52 seconds ahead in the fourth and final run of the first-ever women’s monobob event. She was assured of an Olympic medal.

“We did it,” she repeated, and the single phrase carried the weight of the last three weeks. Meyers Taylor’s unlikely journey to the start line – and now, an Olympic medal – consisted of testing positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Beijing, self-isolating for more than a week without his newborn son. born, Nico, and producing two negative tests before the start of training for the women’s monobob.

Canadian Christine de Bruin couldn’t beat Meyers Taylor’s time. The 37-year-old mom is an Olympic medalist. Again.

In the process, Meyers Taylor made history. She became one of the first two women – along with teammate Kaillie Humphries – to win a medal at four consecutive Olympics. She also became the oldest American woman to medal at the Winter Olympics at 37 years and 127 days.

Meyers Taylor’s career is impressive.

The same goes for the history of the women of the American team at the Beijing Games this year. Of the 16 medals won by the United States so far, women have won 13 medals, including the most gold medals (4). Of the 27 women’s events to date, Team USA leads the Olympic Games with the most medals: eight. To add to that, Team USA is also the only nation to have four different women who have won gold medals: Lindsey Jacobellis, Chloe Kim, Kaillie Humphries and Erin Jackson.

American women make up just 48% of the Team USA cohort in Beijing, even though it is the highest number of American teams in Winter Olympics history. To give you a comparison: the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics saw 134 men and 107 women from the United States, while 116 men and 108 women from the United States are currently competing in Beijing.

In comparison, 45% of athletes at the Winter Olympics are women, which is a record for the Winter Olympics. That number is up from 41% at the Pyeongchang Olympics and, wait for it, 4.3% from the first Winter Games in 1924 (11 women competed out of 258 total entrants).

To promote gender equality, the International Olympic Committee introduced a new event for women – the monobob – and four mixed events.

It took Team USA five days to win their first Olympic gold medal in Beijing, and the story couldn’t be sweeter: Lindsey Jacobellis is a snowboarding legend, but the Olympic gold medal had eluded to his legendary career. That changed when she – in her fifth Olympics – won the women’s snowboard cross event, breaking America’s gold medal drought. The 36-year-old skier inspired a host of Americans to win gold, including herself, when she nailed a stunning pass in the grand final of the mixed snowboarding event with teammate Nick Baumgartner.

“Come on, Lindz. Use your experience, girl,” Baumgartner shouted from the sidelines as Jacobellis made one final pass to make history.

She became the first Olympic gold medalist in the first mixed crossboard event with Baumgartner. And what’s more incredible: Jacobellis joined two of her female teammates in making history. She became the second oldest American woman to medal at the Winter Olympics (36 years, 177 days). Meyers Taylor became the oldest and Humphries became the third oldest (36 years, 163 days).

All done last week.

The fight for equality doesn’t stop there for many of these athletes. Meyers Taylor and Humphries have argued for more women’s bobsleigh events at the Olympics, including a four-woman event, which is now only open to men. There is also a sport that only has men’s events: the Nordic combined. It is a winter sport that includes cross-country skiing and ski jumping and has been part of the Winter Olympics since its inauguration, but it does not yet include women’s events.

There is also work to be done to make the Olympics more inclusive in order to represent society as a whole. In a change in the right direction, figure skating at this year’s Olympics now uses the term “women’s” and not “ladies”. Men have always been referred to as “men” in figure skating, but the same equivalent of “women” was only co-opted this year.

Another milestone was also reached this year in figure skating: Team USA’s Timothy LeDuc became the first non-binary person to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Each of the 13 medal-winning athletes in Beijing so far has a story to tell.

Jackson, who first took to the ice in 2016, became the first black woman to win a medal in speed skating. And what’s even more incredible is that she almost didn’t make it to Beijing. She missed qualifying for the 500-meter speed skating event after a fall, and longtime friend and teammate Brittany Bowe, who finished first, gave way to Jackson. After the medal ceremony, Jackson tweeted, “I cried so much I put my medal upside down…then I cried again.”

Humphries, who won the first-ever gold medal in the women’s monobob event, didn’t even have a country to compete in until December 2021. She left Canada for the United States due to a divisional split with Bobsleigh Canada, after accusing her former coach of mental and emotional harassment, but did not find out until late December whether she would receive her US passport in time to compete in Beijing.

Jacobellis had to wait 16 years after his devastating silver medal in Turin to win his next Olympic medal. Ice dancer Madison Hubbell had to wait until her final competitive performance for her Olympic bronze medal. And, Meyers Taylor dove into a dark place during her COVID-19 isolation from her son, Nico, where she wondered, repeatedly, why she was doing this to herself.

Meyers Taylor’s silver medal, she said, was “the toughest medal” she had won. For her, it was “better than gold”.


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