The biathletes, on time for the meeting, opened the French medal counter at the Beijing Olympics by winning silver in the mixed relay on Saturday, behind Norway.
In the evening in Zhangjiakou, 180 km northwest of Beijing, Benjamin Cavet, also a contender for the podium in mogul skiing, had to settle for fourth place.
Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet, Julia Simon, Emilien Jacquelin and Quentin Fillon-Maillet were unable to repeat the feat of their elders in 2018, including Martin Fourcade, Olympic champions in this mixed relay, but they still managed to pull it off perfectly. a terribly tricky race due to the wind, especially on the launch pad.
Fillon-Maillet, the last torchbearer, only gave in in the sprint ahead of Johannes Boe while the Russian Eduard Latypov finished on their spatulas (3rd) after a race full of twists and turns.
Norway has already done well since it already has two titles the day after the opening ceremony.
Indeed, the first title of these 24th Olympic Winter Games had previously been awarded without surprise or suspense to Therese Johaug in skiathlon, an event where the competitors alternate 7.5 km in classic skiing then the same distance in skateboarding with a passage in stand to change skis.
On the sunny track but swept by an icy wind, Johaug let go of her competitors as soon as she skated to overtake the Russian Natalia Nepryaeva and the Austrian Teresa Stadlober by more than 30 seconds.
– First title for China –
Far from the best, the Chinese Dinigeer Yilamujiang, who belongs to the Uyghur ethnic group and who was the last bearer of the flame during the opening ceremony on Friday, took 43rd place, almost 6 minutes behind Johaug.
China still found its first Olympic heroes. The short-track mixed relay team edged out Italy in the Beijing rink.
As it was in the biathlon, on the shooting range exposed at the foot of the grandiose ski jumping site, the wind promises to be an important player in Zhangjiakou, as in Yanqing.
The other Olympic mountain site of these Games, which hosts alpine skiing, was indeed swept in the morning by strong gusty winds. The organizers had to cancel the third and last training session of the descent, after the passage of three skiers including Sunday’s favorite, the Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
“On the jumps, I covered 60 meters. I was in balance, thank God,” testified the Norwegian.
But the situation angered those who remained in the starting hut.
“There are still three favorites who made one more run than the others, that’s the big problem. If they had canceled this morning, there would have been no problem,” said Johan Clarey , athlete representative to the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Anticipating a weakening wind as Sunday morning progressed at the time of the race (11:00 a.m. local, 4:00 a.m. French), the best chose bibs beyond 10th place.
Like biathletes, Benjamin Cavet was ambitious, despite a lackluster season so far, for his third Olympics (8th in 2014 and 25th in 2018).
The ace! Tired by his efforts and touched during qualifying, the double world vice-champion (2017 and 2021) was in the fight for the medal until the last passage. But it was not enough.
The Swedish Walter Wallberg, the last to descend the slope, won ahead of the Canadian favorite Mikael Kingsbury, defending champion, and the Japanese Ikuma Horishima.
For Kingsbury, it is a disappointment as the statistics of the 29-year-old Quebecer made you dizzy: Olympic champion in 2018 and silver medalist in 2014, nine consecutive world No.1 crystal globes, six championship titles World Championship and 71 World Cup victories.