Winter Olympics 2022 - Highlights in Skiing

Miss any of the skiing at this year's Olympics? Ski Expert Theo G.'s got you covered! Check out his report of all the awe-inspiring runs that took place in Beijing!

A skier jumps in the air and crosses his skis. The sky behind him is blue and dusted with clouds. The Olympic rings are added on top.

Photo by Patrick T'Kindt with added logo

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I thought there was a lot to cover before the games! The Olympics are over, and so are the plethora of alpine racing and freestyle skiing events that made the past two weeks so exciting for fans of the sport and skiers.

The Olympics themselves were marred by controversy, with geopolitics taking center stage as they have at the Winter Games for the last eight years. That said, downhill skiing in Beijing proceeded with relatively few issues and several triumphs—from a nail-biting Women’s Big Air final to a Men’s Giant Slalom contested in white-out blizzard conditions. Speed events were delayed by wind, and the temperatures were bitterly cold at times, but the courses proved up to the task, providing a fitting canvas for envelope-pushing athletic endeavors.

Despite a challenging Games for U.S. skiing’s domestic standard-bearer, global star, and most accomplished athlete, Mikaela Shiffrin, Team USA had many highlights and historic moments at these 2022 Games, in both freestyle and alpine disciplines. Much of the downhill skiing will linger with me in memory (not just because I watched it all), and will doubtlessly spur increased interest in the sport everywhere from Kentucky to Kunming.

Alpine Skiing

Men’s

After a wind delay, the Downhill proceeded as many predicted—Swiss speed phenom Beat Feuz won gold. France’s Johan Clarey missed the gold by a tenth of a second, and both were joined on the podium with one of my pre-race favorites, Austrian Matthias Mayer, with bronze.

Mayer did get his gold in the Super-G, but the big story was U.S. hero Ryan Cochran-Siegle putting down an incredible run to take silver, and almost win the whole thing. It looked like Ryan had it in the bag until missing the top spot by four-hundredths of a second, conceded on the last jump into the stadium. Nonetheless, it was an extraordinary feat for U.S. skiing, rarely seen since Bode Miller’s heyday. Cochran-Siegle blew away the bronze medalist, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, a perennial contender. I was on my feet after the first few turns of RCS’ run, and excitement built as he increased the gap at each timing check.

The Super-G silver will be a defining moment of the skiing events in Beijing for me, and as the U.S.’ sole alpine medal, it will inspire the next crop of aspiring American Olympians and FIS racers.

Another memorable moment of the skiing events was the conditions for the men’s Giant Slalom, which was conducted in what was pretty much a blizzard. Swiss skier Marco Odermatt was able to put down a fast run that was good enough for gold before the snow started coming down too hard while American River Radamus finished just off the podium with an impressive fourth-place run. The real story, however, was the deepening powder—skiers crashed constantly and were buried as they hit the ground. Those who DNF’ed and skied out of the course looked to have better powder turns than we’ve had here in Utah in a couple of months.

Slalom proceeded in sunny conditions, and Frenchman Clément Noël won handily by the relatively massive (for alpine) margin of six-tenths of a second. Norway’s Sebastian Foss Solevåg, who led Noël after the first run, lost a full second on a disastrous second outing, slipping all the way to bronze.

The Combined featured another strong performance by Mikaela Shiffrin’s beau, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, though the story was Austrian’s Johannes Strolz’s commanding slalom performance which bested Kilde for the gold. James Crawford of Canada rounded out the podium with a bronze, earning an alpine medal for our friends to the north, and my second favorite national team at the Winter Games.

Women’s

For many in the U.S., myself included, women’s alpine events were highly anticipated, eagerly viewed, and then concluded sadly as Mikaela Shiffrin skied out of the course or didn’t finish in the field’s top tier. Mikaela’s grace and clarity in interviews throughout these Games established her as a thoughtful, relatable spokesperson for herself and the sport, beyond her image as a generational athletic talent.

The other main story of women’s alpine was Switzerland’s absolute dominance—the Swiss won three out of the five gold medals awarded, and almost half of the fifteen individual medals. This began with Lara Gut-Behrami’s GS and Wendy Holdener’s Slalom bronze medals and was only accentuated in the speed events. Corinne Suter took the gold in Downhill for Switzerland, followed by Italy’s Sofia Goggia and Nadia Delago in silver and bronze positions, respectively.

In the Super-G, Gut-Behrami got her second medal, winning gold, with her teammate Michelle Gisin joining her on the podium with a bronze. The Slalom event was marked by a historic performance by Shiffrin’s rival in the technical events, Petra Vlhová, after the American skied out in the first run. Sitting seven-tenths back after Run One, Vlhová skied to victory in the second leg with a miraculous comeback, winning Slovakia its first alpine medal.

The Swiss capped off their domination with a 1-2 in Alpine Combined, with Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener both reprising their slalom excellence. Italy’s Federica Brignone, a 2022 silver medalist in GS, capped off a really strong showing by the Italian team with a bronze in Combined. Italy, not Austria, looks to be chasing down the Swiss, and the timing couldn’t be better, with the Italians hosting in 2026.

Freestyle Skiing

Moguls/Aerials

Men’s

As usual, the Olympics got off to a hot start with Moguls as the first freestyle skiing event. Each skier in the men’s finals seemed to go faster and score higher than the last. Nick Page of Park City, UT put down a solid run at the beginning of the finals that looked like it might be good for a medal. Heavy favorite and two-time gold medalist, Canadian Mikaël Kingsbury skied an extremely clean and technical run in the penultimate position and was scored into first place. It really seemed like that last skier to drop would win, and that’s what happened—Walter Wallberg of Sweden tore down the course, scoring an 83.23 with high points for time, which ultimately made the difference and denied Kingsbury another gold. Nick Page finished fifth and looks to have a bright future at only 19 years of age.

Women’s

In Aerials, Megan Nick, born and raised in Vermont, flipped and twisted to an intensely clean routing and landing—taking home a bronze medal in a sport where the U.S. certainly wasn’t assured a medal, and doing the state of Vermont proud. In a massive, exhilarating victory, Team USA won gold in the Mixed Team Aerials event, with a team composed of Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis, and Justin Schoenefeld. Lillis landed a quintuple-twisting triple, earning a massive score and boosting the team to victory. The hosts took silver with the Canadian team earning a bronze.

The women’s Mogul final was full of American talent—Olivia Giacco led things off with a strong run before Jaelin Kauf put down an electrifying and speedy run to jump in the top spot. However, she was ousted on the last run by Australia’s Jakara Anthony and finished in the silver. The U.S.’ Kai Owens made finals but missed the last round, and at 17 years of age will surely be a strong contender in the next decade.

Big Air

Women’s

One of the most hyped and widely consumed freestyle events in Beijing was the inaugural Big Air event, held against an aggressively dour industrial backdrop. Despite the strange setting, the event did not disappoint. Many freeski fans and media outlets labeled the women’s final the best ever in the sport, with athletes testing the limits of progression and the frontier of style and amplitude.

Superstar and favorite Eileen Gu scored a big 93.75 on Run One after putting down a dub 14. Tess Ledeux upped the rotation and earned a 94.5 with a dub 16, finishing Run One in the top spot. 1000skis athlete Anni Karava had a stylish dub 10, but the bar had been pushed. Ledeux and Mathilde Gremaud led the field in Run Two, with a switch 14 and a double switch 14, respectively. It was Run Three, though, where the tension really came into play—Gu threw a dub 16, matching Ledeux’s first run’s 94.5 and taking over the top spot. After a 93 on Run Two, France’s Tess Ledeux needed better than a 93.75 to oust Gu and take gold. Her switch 14 did not cut it though, with a bobble on the landing, and Mathilde Gremaud, who also had a shot to win, didn’t lace her 14 up either. Eileen Gu narrowly won gold by 0.75 points, with Ledeux and Gremaud taking silver and bronze. This event will be remembered in freeskiing for the next four years, and casual observers were lucky to take in the stunning and close final.

Men’s

Lots of errors on Run One kept the men’s competition thrilling to the last second. Norwegian Birk Ruud threw a jaw-dropping switch triple 19, scoring a massive 95.75 which would be very hard to surpass. On Run Two, Utah’s Colby Stevenson scored 91.75 with a nice nosebutter triple 16, and his teammate Alex Hall landed his now-signature dub 19 “buick” for a big 92.5. Freeski legend and fan-favorite Swede Henrik Harlaut scored 90 with a switch dub 18, which Ruud beat with a dub 18 featuring a wild combo of grabs, earning a 92.

On Run Three, Stevenson moved into the silver spot with a 91.25 adding to his second run score. Alex Hall crashed attempting the “future spin” 2160 he landed at X Games, meaning he wouldn’t medal. Nonetheless, it was amazing to see the progression of the sport at its highest level. Harlaut scored 91 with a signature styling nosebutter triple 16, putting him in third and allowing Birk Ruud to cruise down without needing a high score on Run Three to win. Stevenson earned silver, freeskiing at large rejoiced at Harlaut’s bronze, and Birk Ruud’s technical skill and amplitude gave him a large margin of victory and a gold medal.

Slopestyle

Women’s

Slopestyle was contested on a beautiful course with several unique features, like the “guardhouse” wallride, twisting kickers, and a quarter pipe on the last jump.

Run One for the women didn’t feature any stand-out high scores with Kelly Sildaru of Estonia scoring an 82.06 to lead the field. On Run Two, Mathilde Gremaud scored a nice 86.56, boosted by a clean rail section and a dub 10 on the first jump. Team USA’s Maggie Voisin landed her only clean run with the second attempt, but 74.28 was not enough to get close to a medal. A great Run Two by Sildaru was derailed when one of her bindings pre-released on the landing of the final jump, though she stayed on her feet and skied away. The only switch-up in the order by Run Three was Eileen Gu continuing her Beijing excellence, earning second place and missing gold by 0.33 points. Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud won gold for the second time in a row, and Kelly Sildaru took home bronze on the strength of her first run score.

Men’s

Men’s slopestyle is always highly anticipated, mainly due to Team USA’s strength—Americans have dominated since the event’s first running in 2014. Alex Hall had a beautiful and stylish Run One, with clean rails, and a switch 7 to switch 5 double hit on a jump/roller feature that truly pushed the limits for originality and use of the course. Hall scored a 90.01 and set the bar high. 17-year-old Matěj Švancer of Austria impressed me with his style and flow, though a couple small errors held him back. Jesper Tjäder of Sweden also scored high, boosted by a switch triple 12, and earned an 85.35. As with the women, clean runs were few and far between, and Hall and Tjäder both hung on for medals with their Run One scores.

American Nick Goepper joined them on the podium with a silver after a clean and impressive Run Two, marking his third Olympics with a slopestyle medal. It seems as though the judges are rewarding style more than they have in the past, and spinning big with a high degree of technicality is no longer enough to guarantee gold. Alex Hall’s gold medal had the freeskiing community awash with high hopes for the future of the sport, and happy with the skiers who were rewarded for their vision and prowess in Beijing.

Halfpipe

Team USA is always a strong force in Halfpipe, and perennial top contender David Wise earned another medal with a silver. He and teammate Alex Ferreira went two-three while Nico Porteous of New Zealand won gold.

Eileen Gu capped off an exceptional Olympics with a massive victory, beating Canada’s Cassie Sharpe by almost five points for gold. The Canadians had a lot to celebrate in women’s pipe, as Rachael Karker joined her teammate Sharpe on the podium with a bronze.

Gear on the Podium

Dalbello Il Moro

The Dalbello Moro II boot.

A popular boot option for freeskiers on the World Cup and X Games circuit is the Dalbello Il Moro. A stiff park option at a 120 flex, it’s a narrow boot, featuring a 98mm last. Stiff and narrow equals performance as we see in the race world, with skiers searching for the tightest, most responsive fit possible. If you ski park, have a narrow foot, and appreciate the control offered by a stiff boot in the park or around the mountain, the Il Moro is an excellent option. This is worn by gold medalist Birk Ruud, among others.

Faction Prodigy 1.0

The Faction Prodigy 1.0 ski.

Alex Hall skied to gold in Slopestyle on the Faction Prodigy 1.0 LTF, a special Prodigy ski graphic used by Faction’s team at the top level. Like most “comp” skis, the 1.0 LTD is stiffer than many park skis, favoring stability over the ability to do slow-speed butters and presses. Its twin-tip shape and underfoot camber give it precision when carving into big spins, and the ability to comfortably land and take off switch.

All-Mountain Boots

The Technica Mach ski boot and the Atomic Prime boot.

The Technica Mach 1 95 boot and the Atomic Hawx Prime 95.

Not every park skier wears special freestyle boots like Il Moro or Full Tilts—Eileen Gu and Mathilde Gremaud both favor models known for all-mountain performance. Gremaud wore the Technica Mach 1 95 to victory, a medium-stiff option from a celebrated boot manufacturer that’s not renowned for freestyle equipment. Gu wears a very similar boot made by Atomic, the Hawx Prime 95, which is a great option for any intermediate-advanced all-mountain skier, and it was good enough for two Olympic golds!

K2 RWB Stash Poacher

The K2 RWB Stash Poacher Ski.

Colby Stevenson rode a new ski—or at least a new graphic/edition—the K2 RWB Stash Poacher. Released to consumers just this winter, the RWB edition is a new take on what’s been a comp favorite ski for several years. The Poacher exemplifies the upper limit of the modern waist-width range in a comp ski, coming in at 96mm underfoot, a width that can be skied as an all-mountain freestyle ski on both coasts. A few years ago, most comp skis didn’t push 90mm, but these days the skis on the podium are more similar to those you might see around your local park, mountain, and even sidecountry. That said, the Poacher is still pretty stiff, giving good pop with carbon and wood construction, and wouldn’t be the choice for a skier who wants something super loose and rockered. If the RWB Stash catches your eye, and you spend most of your time in the park, there’s hardly a better ski for progressing your skills towards Colby’s (at least on the rail section—good luck on the jumps).

Whether you’re a new skier looking to test out the slopes for the first time or a seasoned vet who wants to upgrade their current setup, Curated has you covered! Chat with a Ski Expert today for a fully customized experience that will match you with the best equipment for your skiing style.

And that’s it! It’s a long four years until Milano/Cortina 2026, but it’ll be filled with X Games, World Cup races, and local rail jams to keep skiing progressing and vibrant. Keep an eye out, and hope to see you on the hill!

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Written By
I'm a pro ski instructor and lifelong fan of winter. I'll ski whenever/however possible, and that obsession has given me experience with big mountain, backcountry, racing, and park disciplines. I've been on skis over 20 years, and I grew up in the Adirondacks skiing at Gore and Whiteface mountains....

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