Beijing 2022: Sleep schedules, opening ceremonies and first medals

The Aquinian's radio producer, Peter Jewett, is the creator of "Fast Takes," the sports column for 2021-22 academic year. (Aaron Sousa and Peter Jewett/AQ)

The Beijing National Stadium, better known as the Bird’s Nest, hosted the opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 4. Over 2,900 athletes from 91 different delegations will compete in Beijing and the surrounding areas in 109 events between now and Feb. 20.

 The 12-hour time difference between Beijing and New Brunswick is about as good as it gets when the games are on a different continent. Events typically start around 9:00 p.m. Atlantic time and continue through the night until things wrap up at roughly 11:00 p.m.

 I’ve been watching events in the evening and into the early hours of the morning, then waking up around 7:00am to catch the day’s closing events. That kind of sleep schedule means it’s Olympic afternoon nap season, my friends. If there’s one event I could win a gold medal in, that would be it. 

 Sleep schedule aside, it’s time to focus on where Canada is in the early days of these Olympics.

 Isabelle Weidemann kicked things off for the Canadians with a bronze medal in women’s 3000m speed skating on Saturday evening. It’s the 26-year-old’s first Olympic medal in her second Olympics.

Not long after, defending Olympic gold medalist in men’s moguls Mikaël Kingsbury took silver for Canada’s second medal in the skiing event, making him Canada’s most decorated Olympic freestyle skier ever. Kingsbury was the heavy favourite for gold in the event, so Canada is still waiting for that coveted gold medal.

Mikaël Kingsbury and Isabelle Weidemann are Canada’s only two medalists after two days of competition. Canada sits at 12th at the medal table. (Submitted: Olympics)

Also on Saturday evening, Canada’s mixed short track relay speed skating team finished in third in the final, but lost their medal in a disappointing fashion due to a penalty from an on-ice collision. Home team China took gold, the first ever in the new event.

 In mixed doubles curling, Team Canada was stunned last night by last-place Australia. Down 7-0 after four ends, Rachel Homan and John Morris clawed back to make it 8-8 and force an extra end. The Australians pulled out the win and Canada now sits at 5-3, tied for second in the standings. The four team playoff is on Monday and the gold and bronze medal games are on Tuesday. Stay tuned as Homan and Morris fight to defend Canada’s 2018 gold medal in this event.

John Morris sweeps as Rachel Homan curls. The mixed doubles pair play undefeated Italy Sunday at 9:05 p.m. in a must-win game. (Submitted: Olympics)

With 12-1 and 11-1 victories over Switzerland and Finland, Canada’s women’s hockey team appears to be unstoppable. Brianne Jenner and Sarah Nurse each had a hat trick in the win against Finland and Natalie Spooner is leading the tournament in points with nine. Next up is the match early Monday morning at 12:10 a.m. between Canada and the Russian Olympic Committee (this team isn’t officially representing Russia due to the recent doping scandal.) Then Canada will face our foes to the south, the United States, on Tuesday morning at 12:10 a.m. Watch out especially for the game against the U.S., Canada’s only real competition when it comes to women’s hockey. No country other than the two North American powerhouses have ever won gold at the Olympics.

 Men’s hockey begins for Canada on Thursday morning as they take on the Germans in the preliminary round. National Hockey League players aren’t at these Olympics, so Canada will be counting on captain Eric Staal’s veteran experience to guide the way. He was part of Canada’s 2010 gold medal squad on home ice in Vancouver.

 Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin finished in fourth last night in the women’s slopestyle snowboarding final, just shy of a podium place. She’ll have another shot at a medal when women’s big air happens next week. Canadian sisters Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe were also unable to medal in the women’s moguls final early this morning.

 The trio of athletes who represented Canada in men’s slopestyle snowboarding at the last three Olympics will be competing for medals. Mark McMorris, Sébastien Toutant and Max Parrot all finished in the top 10 to punch their ticket to the slopestyle final on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. Atlantic time. Canada has never won a gold medal in this event, so stay locked in for those results!

Keep your eye on snowboarding as there are gold medal events coming up every day for the next week! Canada has the second most snowboarders in Beijing behind the United States, so medal chances are high. Big air, halfpipe and snowboard cross (my personal favourite) are just a few of the events still to come.

Medal events in luge, skeleton, alpine skiing and speed skating are all taking place this week as well. For the adrenaline junkies out there, be sure to tune into luge and skeleton as athletes will easily reach speeds of 140 km/h on their way down the track. Bobsleigh, another one of my favourite sports, is coming up next week.

As Canada still waits for a gold medal, perennial winter sport contenders ROC lead the way with five medals. Stay locked in for the week ahead with the Olympic schedule.