Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
The 2022 Winter Olympics began on February 4 in Beijing. COVID still made its presence known for these games, with spectators restricted and discouraged from cheering. One of the hockey teams even played with face masks.
A few bright spots from these games have emerged, showing the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of incredible odds. Here’s a closer look at some of the most inspirational moments that happened.
1. Ireen Wüst Breaks Gold Medal Record
Dutch speedskater Irene Wüst skated her name into Olympics history in 2022, winning an individual gold medal for a record fifth consecutive games.
Wüst won the 1500m speedskating event with a time of 1:53.28. That edged Miho Takagi from Tokyo by 0.44 seconds. Her teammate, Antoinette de Jong, took the bronze medal with a time of 1:54.82.
Her winning time in the 1500m event set an Olympic record. After winning her first gold medal in 2006 at Torino, Wüst said that being a champion in five consecutive games was hard to describe. She’s the only athlete ever to accomplish this feat. 
The gold medal from the 1500m event gives her 12 total for her career, tying her for third place overall for the most career podiums in Winter Olympics history.
Watch her legendary performance from NBC Sports here (2nd set of pairs)
2. Nathan Chen Sets Record Score
Although American figure skater Nathan Chen set a record of his own during the 2018 Olympic games, his fumbles during his short program that year tend to get the most attention.
For the 2022 games, he helped the United States earn a silver medal in the team competition by delivering a flawless performance.
The short program is a 2:40 routine, different from the four-minute free skate. The scores from both get added together to create the final standings.
Chen scored 113.97 in the short program. For a sport that sees wins by fractional decimals, Chen earned the gold in this Olympics by more than 20 points.
Watch Nathan Chen's gold medal performance here
3. Kaishu Hirano Breaks World Record for Big Air
Although Kaishu Hirano didn’t come home with a medal from the 2022 Winter Olympics, he is now the proud owner of an impressive world record. This Japanese snowboarder stole the show by delivering more than 24 feet of big air during the halfpipe event. 
It was an incredible feat of athleticism. Hirano pushed himself to a height of 24 feet, 4 inches, on his final run on a backside air.
The standard halfpipe depth is 22 feet. That meant Hirano was over 44 feet off the ground at the peak of his big air.
Although Hirano didn’t get to celebrate a win, his older brother, Ayumu, won the gold medal in the event with a stunning run.
At only 19, it seems like Kaishu Hirano has a career going for him where the only direction is up.
4. Erin Jackson Makes Speedskating History
Erin Jackson made Olympic history in the 500m speedskating event in Beijing. She earned the gold medal and became the first Black American woman to reach the podium in her sport.
Those weren’t the only streaks that Jackson broke with her win. She’s the first American to win gold in this sport since Shani Davis won the 1000m in 2010. She’s also the first American woman to take home a speedskating gold since Chris Witty won the 1000m event in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Even more remarkable is that Jackson almost failed to make the Olympic team. She was in third place after qualifying after catching a lousy edge, and only two Americans could earn a place on the team.
Brittany Bowe gave up her spot so that Jackson could compete. Once quote spots were reallocated, the United States was given a third spot in the 500m, allowing Bowe to travel to Beijing to compete.
Hear more about Erin's amazing journey to gold in an interview by Good Morning America here
5. Qi Guangpu Lands a Quintuple Twist
At his fourth Olympic games, Qi Guangpu of China finally made his way to the podium with a gold medal performance in men’s aerials. In the medal round, it took a quintuple twist with a triple backflip to secure the victory. 
Five of the six competitors tried the same trick during the medal round. He was the only competitor to land it cleanly, earning a score of 129. A Ukrainian competitor, Oleksandr Abramenko, finished second with 116.5.
Qi Guangpu finished fourth, seventh, and seventh at the previous three Olympic Games. “I learned a lot,” he said. “This is the time for me to win the gold medal in China, my home country. I am very happy my people are here with me."
Watch Qi Guangpu flip his way into victory on NBC Sports here
 https://sports.yahoo.com/ireen-wust-wins-gold-at-fifth-olympics-setting-record-for-longevity-115826870.html; https://www.usfigureskating.org/about/scoring-system;  https://www.insider.com/video-kaishu-hirano-world-record-halfpipe-2022-2;  https://www.nbcolympics.com/videos/erin-jackson-makes-us-history-speed-skating-500m-gold; https://www.espn.com/olympics/story/_/id/33302352/china-qi-guangpu-quint-twists-gold-olympic-men-aerials
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