Nice one, Niall – thank you. Into the night session we go on the first Wednesday of these brilliant Winter Games at Beijing, where the clock has just struck 7pm in the Olympic city. We’ve seen the big names deliver after dark so far and there’s a chance for them to do so again tonight with three medals to be decided.
The first of those will be over at the Genting Snow Park where the Mixed Team Aerials competition is about to begin – on Olympic debut, too. Each team will have three jumpers with two attempts, with six trios winning entry to the final. China is the team to beat on paper, having won this at the last couple of World Cups, but the USA and the ROC have been right there with them on the podium in the past. Freestyle aerial skiing is a beautiful thing; one to enjoy.
Then in an hour from now at The Oval, the starters’ pistol will fire in the women’s 5000m speed skating final. Well, it’ll fire six times – there are 12 athletes in contention, in pairs, as always. Esmee Visser, who gold at Pyeongchang, isn’t there this time but Martina Sáblíková still is, the Czech great who saluted in 2010 and 2014, likewise the World Record holder is the ROC’s Natalya Voronina. However, nothing will be sorted out until the final pair though because that’s when Irene Schouter will take off, the Dutch star already with a gold in her pocket from the 3000m and the fastest in the world in 2021 over this journey.
Just as that’s concluding, we’ll return to the National Sliding Centre to see whether the Germans can continue their domination of the luge in the team relay competition. In this, we’ll see a man, a woman and a pair go down for each competing country. In Germany’s case, their man, Johannes Ludwig, won the gold in the singles, and their woman, Natalie Geisenberger, has a claim to being the greatest slider of all time after winning that competition for the third time on the trot two days ago. Oh, and their pair? The Tobys – Wendl and Arlt – also took out their pet event for the third time in succession yesterday. To the rest of the field… good luck with that.
Between times, we’ll nip in and out of the ice cube for the second session of the women’s curling. Team GB, who lost to the Swiss in their opener yesterday, are up against Sweden, who easily accounted for Japan. It’ll also be the first we’ll see of Team USA in the men’s ice hockey, up against hosts China at the National Indoor Centre.