Just six months after the flame was doused in Tokyo, the Olympics get underway again on Feb 4 in Beijing [ and 50 miles north in Yanqing and 100 miles north of that in Zhangjiakou].

1.- 11 Gold Medals Awarded

Alpine Skiing

Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a gold medal in 2014 and 2018, will go for a third, or maybe more. She is still at the top of her game, and last week earned a record breaking 47th World Cup in a single discipline, slalom.

Petra VIhova of Slovakia and Lara Gut-Behrami and Michelle Gisin of Switzerland will be challengers as well.

In the men's events, Alxis Pinturault of France has a silver and two bronzes at the Games, but will be looking for gold No. 1 as the reigning World Cup overall champion.

The disciplines include downhill, the fastest event; super-G, with more turns added; giant slalom, still more turns; and slalom, the slowest and most technical event. There is also a combined event [ downhill and slalom ] and a mixed-gender team slalom event.

2.- 2 Golds Ice Hockey

N.H.L. players had planned to be back at the Games for the first time since 2014, but the league and the players' union agreed to not send players to Beijing amid a rise of coronavirus cases that prompted a pause to the N.H.L. season.

That will force some of the top expected contenders, including the United States and Canada, to adjust to not having top stars on their men's teams.

China will also be participating in the men's event, despite concerns that the team is not nearly good enough to be competitive.

In the women's event, Canada and the United States have won all six gold medals since the sport was added, and five of the six silvers. Finland, Russia and perhaps Switzerland are likely to vie for bronze.

3.- 3 Golds


For many Americans, who seem to embrace the granite rocks and brooms of curling every four years, a highlight of the 2018 Games was the U.S. men, led by John Shuster, streaking to the gold medal after a somewhat shaky 5-4 start.

The Swedish men and Swiss women have been the most successful since then, and Canada is always a contender.

4.- 2 Golds


And here's the headfirst sledding event. The United States does much better here, winning 3 of the 12 golds awarded so far. [ The Americans have never won luge gold.]

Germany, Austria and Russia are the countries to watch at the Beijing Games.

This is a sport that beats athletes up, thanks to the G-forces and vibrations rattling the sledders.

5.- 4 Golds


Joining the four-man, two-man and two woman events is a race for just one: women's monobob. The first world champion was crowned this year : Kallie Humpheries, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada now representing the United States.

Humphries is also the world champion in the two-man bob, with Lolo Jones as her pusher.

6.- 5 Golds

Ski Jumping

Men jump in '' normal hill '' and '' large hill '' competitions, while women jumpers, who joined the Games only in 2018, are limited to normal hill. There is also a mixed-gender team competition being added this year.

Some have said that the top of the ski jumping tower, where athletes wait before the exhilarating trip down is the quietest spot at the Games.

7.- 4 Golds


Germans have won 34 of 48 gold medals in this sport over the years, including seven of the last eight.

In case you can't remember, luge is feet-first sledding race; skeleton is headfirst.

8.- 11 Golds


Take the endurance test of cross-country skiing and shake up it up every few kilometers by having athletes stop to shoot rifles at targets. Too many misses, and skiers must take a penalty lap

Germany, France, Sweden and Norway should dominate the medals.

9.- 3 Golds

Nordic Combined

To win the Nordic combined, athletes must be great at two very different events : cross-country skiing and ski jumping. After years of Norwegian domination, Germany won all three gold medals at the last Games.

Nordic combined is the only Olympic sport without a women's event, but that may change in 2026.

10.- 12 Golds

Cross-country skiing

Norway dominates this sport, but the United States claimed its first gold medal in 2018 when Jesse Diggins and Kikkan Randall won the sprint relay. Diggins will be back in 2022.

The recovered Norwegian Marit Bjorgen has retired from the Olympic competition after winning eight gold medals over three Games.

The World Students Society thanks author Victor Mather.


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