BEIJING: China won its first gold medal at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in the 2,000m mixed team relay of short track speed skating on Saturday, while Norway pocketed two of six gold medals on offer on the first competition day after the opening ceremony.
China, with a team of Fan Kexin, Qu Chunyu, Wu Dajing and Ren Ziwei, withstood late challenges from Italy to finish first in two minutes and 37.348 seconds in the event's debut at the Games.
Italy took the silver by 0.016 seconds. The bronze medal belonged to Hungary, who clocked two minutes and 40.900 seconds.
China finished third in the semifinals before the United States was disqualified after receiving a penalty, thus letting China march into the final.
In the women's 7.5km+7.5km skiathlon held at the National Cross-Country Skiing Center in Zhangjiakou, Norway's Therese Johaug, winner in the 4x5km relay at Vancouver 2010, claimed the very first gold medal of Beijing 2022 by finishing in 44:13.7.
After missing the PyeongChang 2018 due to a doping ban, the reigning world champion won her first individual Olympic gold medal with a margin of 30.2 seconds.
"I've never had an [individual] Olympic gold medal, it's my first one. I'm so happy," said Johaug.
Natalia Nepryaeva from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) took the silver in 44:43.9, while Teresa Stadlober of Austria won the bronze in 44:44.2.
The other gold for Norway on Saturday came from biathlon, where the Nordic powerhouse beat defending champion France to win the 4x6km mixed relay title.
The 2018 silver medalists, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Tiril Eckhoff and Johannes Thingnes Boe were joined by four-time Olympian Tarjei Boe as the third leg for Norway, who skied home in 1:06:45.6.
France had to settle for the second place, 0.9 seconds behind Norway. The ROC took the bronze medal 0.6 seconds further behind.
In the National Speed Skating Oval, locally known as the "Ice Ribbon," Dutch speed skater Irene Schouten emerged victorious in the women's 3,000m with 3:56.93, shattering the 20-year-old Olympic record set by Germany's Claudia Pechstein, now 49 and competing in her eighth Winter Olympics.
The 29-year-old Dutch is in quest of becoming the second female skater in history to win four golds at a single Olympic journey.
"There was a lot of pressure for myself and for the Netherlands and I'm so happy I made it," Schouten said.Italy's Francesca Lollobrigida finished in 3:58.06 to take the silver, while the World Cup silver medalist Isabelle Weidemann from Canada placed third in 3:58.64.
Pechstein, one of Germany's flag bearers on Friday's opening ceremony, became the first-ever female Olympian to compete in eight Winter Olympics.
"I was not too fast, but I smiled when I crossed the finish line, because today I've achieved my goal to race in my eighth Olympic Games and it was important for me," Pechstein explained.
Slovenian Ursa Bogataj won the first ski jumping gold for her country in the women's normal hill individual competition.
After registering 118.0 points in the first round, Bogataj collected 121.0 points for her second jump to total a competition-leading 239.0 points.
Germany's Katharina Althaus, silver medalist at the PyeongChang 2018, was placed second again with 236.8 points. Bogataj's compatriot Nika Kriznar bagged the bronze medal with 232.0 points.
Walter Wallberg from Sweden garnered 83.23 points from a combination of time, air and turns, beating defending champion Mikael Kingsbury of Canada and becoming the first Swedish mogul skier to win a medal at the Winter Games.
Kingsbury took the silver in 82.18, and Ikuma Horishima from Japan pocketed the bronze in 81.48.
In curling mixed doubles, Italy stunned the reigning world champion Britain 7-5 to secure a semifinal berth with six straight victories. Host China lost to the United States 7-5 before conceding a 9-6 loss to Norway for their fourth straight loss.
Following a 12-1 shellacking of Switzerland on Thursday, Canada posted another lopsided victory in the women's ice hockey competition by taming Finland 11-1.
Norway tops the medal table after Day 1 with two gold medals, followed by Slovenia, China, the Netherlands and Sweden with one gold apiece.
Seven gold medals in Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, luge, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating are up for grabs on Sunday.