Today in a nutshell: A gold at last for Britain, an historic ice hockey victory for Finland, and yet another win for Norway
Next up: The closing ceremony signals a pause before Beijing hosts the Winter Paralympics starting 4 March
Britain’s only gold medallists jump for joy. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Eve Muirhead, Vicky Wright, Jen Dodds, and Hailey Duff will be the only members of Team GB to return from Beijing with a gold medal after they triumphed on the last day in a somewhat one-sided women’s curling final, beating Japan 10-3. Team GB ended the Beijing Games with two medals – short of their target of three to seven – after Bruce Mouat’s men won curling silver on Saturday. Curling coach David Murdoch described it as “a perfect performance” from Muirhead and her team.
Finland’s men rush on to the ice to celebrate their victory. Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/Tass
There were, as they say, absolute scenes, as Finland came from behind and defeated the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 2-1 in the men’s ice hockey final to take an Olympic title for the very first time. They’ve been losing finalists twice (in 2006 and in 1988) and won four bronze medals through the years, but never won gold. The Finns ended up unbeaten throughout the tournament, including that blockbuster three-goal comeback against Sweden to top their group. “This means a lot, first time we made history today, it feels great,” said Finnish forward Markus Granlund. “It was an early game, the fans probably woke up early, it’s a big thing for Finland.”
Germany extended their historic sliding dominance at the Beijing Games. Yesterday there was a one-two finish in the women’s bobsleigh with Laura Nolte holding off defending Olympic champion and countrywoman Mariama Jamanka. Then in the final action in the sliding centre, Francseco Friedrich and Johannes Lochner piloted their respective four-man teams to another German one-two. “We hope it goes on,” Friedrich said after the race. “Our goal is to make four more years.” For his part, Lochner said of Friedrich, “There’s always a chance to beat him, but the point is that he has to do a mistake.”
Germany celebrate after their bobsleigh four-man win Photograph: Xinhua/Shutterstock
Things you might have missed
There was almost a symmetry to the Games as one of the very last medals to be won went to the athlete who had won the very first medal just over a fortnight ago – Norway’s Therese Johaug. She won the women’s mass start cross-country 30km. The race was moved earlier due to expected high winds. Norway ended up with 16 golds, a new record for a single country at a single Games. Jessie Diggins of the US came second, and was so cold and exhausted that she had to be assisted away from the finish line.
Jessie Diggins struggles at the 30km finish. Photograph: Michel Cottin/Agence Zoom/Getty Images
Finland’s Remi Lindholm underlined just how cold and tough the conditions were during the men’s shortened 30km mass start event on Saturday by revealing that his penis froze during the race. He explained that he used a heat pack to try to thaw it once the race was over. “When the body parts started to warm up after the finish, the pain was unbearable,” he added. Ouch.
Remi Lindholm during the cross-country skiing. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images
The doping row about the figure skating medals continues, but at least one contentious issue from these Games has gone away. South Korea’s Olympic Committee has said it has dropped plans to have a right old moan up to the Court of Arbitration for Sport about their speed skaters Hwang Dae-heon and Lee June-seo being disqualified from the men’s 1000m semi-finals on 7 February.
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The briefing’s picture of the day
Austria took the honours in the mixed team parallel contest that was rescheduled to the final day. The Austrian team beat Germany in the final, while Mikaela Shiffrin will leave the Beijing Olympics without a medal after the US lost to Norway in the third-place race.
Louise Stjernesund of Norway competes during the alpine skiing mixed team parallel event. Photograph: Xinhua/Shutterstock
How things finished
The final emoji table from Beijing looked like this …
1 🇳🇴 Norway 🥇 16 🥈 8 🥉 13 total: 37
2 🇩🇪 Germany 🥇 12 🥈 10 🥉 5 total: 27
3 🇨🇳 China 🥇 9 🥈 4 🥉 2 total: 15
4 🇺🇸 United States 🥇 8 🥈 10 🥉 7 total: 25
5 🇸🇪 Sweden 🥇 8 🥈 5 🥉 5 total: 18
6 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🥇 8 🥈 5 🥉 4 total: 17
7 🇦🇹 Austria 🥇 7 🥈 7 🥉 4 total: 18
8 🇨🇭 Switzerland 🥇 7 🥈 2 🥉 5 total: 14
9 ◻️ Not Russia 🥇 6 🥈 12 🥉 14 total: 32
10 🇫🇷 France 🥇 5 🥈 7 🥉 2 total: 14
11 🇨🇦 Canada 🥇 4 🥈 8 🥉 14 total: 26
17 🇳🇿 New Zealand 🥇 2 🥈 1 🥉 0 total: 3
18 🇦🇺 Australia 🥇 1 🥈 2 🥉 1 total: 4
19 🇬🇧 Great Britain 🥇 1 🥈 1 🥉 0 total: 2
[The official IOC website notes that the Figure Skating Team and Women Single Skating event results are provisional]
What to look out for next
Times are all in local Beijing time. For Sydney it is +3 hours, for London it is -8 hours, for New York it is -13 hours and San Francisco is -16 hours.
Later today – Sunday 20 February
8pm Closing ceremony – Beijing will hand over the Olympic flag to Milano-Cortina 2026 and that’s a wrap. Who knows if tonight’s event will include the kind of highly provocative gesture we saw a couple of weeks ago, when the “genocide Games” were opening with China choosing Dinigeer Yilamujiang, an athlete of Uyghur heritage, as one of the people to light the flame. I will be on our live blog for it.
And after that …
4 March-13 March 2022 Winter Paralympics – the opening ceremony is on Friday 4 March, and the sport begins the following day. The Winter Paralympics are on a much smaller scale to either the Summer Paralympics or the Winter Olympics, with 78 medals awarded over nine days of events in six different sports. You’ll be able to follow coverage on our website.
Paris 2024 – the next Summer Olympics are scheduled from 26 July to 11 August 2024, with the promise the opening ceremony will be held on the Seine rather than in a stadium, and many events will be in the city centre with venues within walking distance of each other. If it is OK with you, we will keep you on this mailing list, and we will be back with coverage in two years time. If that isn’t ok with you, then you can simply hit unsubscribe at the foot of this email. We hope you’ll want to stay.
Thank you so much for your messages while I’ve been doing the Beijing Briefing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them and I look forward to running into you again on the Guardian website soon. Until then, take care and stay safe.
The last word
Eve Muirhead during the women’s curling final. Photograph: Makoto Takahashi/AFLO/Shutterstock
To think it was 20 years ago when Rhona Martin made history in Britain by winning that gold medal. We’ve followed in her footsteps and done it. This is a moment I’ve dreamed of as a child. To stand on the podium and get that gold medal around your neck is honestly a moment I’ll never forget. – Eve Muirhead, successful skip of the Great Britain women’s curling team.