3 heartwarming stories from the first weekend of the Winter Olympics

The Games have just started, but they’re already showing the best sports have to offer

United States's Julia Marino (9), New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski Synnott and Australia's Tess Coady (5) celebrate after competing in the women's slopestyle finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (Lee Jin-Man, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

It might only be a few days into the competition at the Winter Olympics, but already, some heartwarming stories have caught the world’s eyes.

Here are three such stories that took place over the weekend, with more likely to come.

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1. Polish luger shows courage, competes at the scene where he nearly died.

Mateusz Sochowicz of Team Poland slides during the Men's Singles Luge Run 3 on day two of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Photo by Alex Pantling (Getty Images)

In November, luger Mateusz Sochowicz of Poland nearly died on the luge/bobsled/skeleton track being used for the Beijing Olympics.

While on a test run to get acclimated with the track, Sochowicz came up to a metal barrier on the track that was closed when it should’ve been open. There were only seconds to react and figure out a way to avoid possible death.

As he approached the gate, Sochowicz let go of the sled, stood up and tried to jump over the gate.

The attempt failed, as Sochowicz fractured his kneecap and his right leg was cut to the bone.

However, if he had struck the gate at full speed on his sled, he likely would’ve died.

The rehab was rough, and it made him bitter at first.

“At the very beginning, I had a big grudge against the people who hurt me,” Sochowicz said to the Associated Press. “But I decided that nobody did it on purpose. Mistakes happen. I’m tough. I dealt with it.”

Indeed he did, both physically and mentally.

Thanks to physical rehab and help from a psychologist, Sochowicz qualified for the men’s singles luge event at the Olympics and returned to Beijing, facing the very track where he nearly died.

Sochowicz ended up finishing 25th in the event, but completed three runs and proved his courage was worth way more than a gold medal.

“I have proved to myself that nothing is impossible, Sochowicz said to the AP.

2. A first for New Zealand, thanks to snowboarder -- and a priceless reaction.

The tiny island of New Zealand had never had an athlete win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics, but snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott stepped up to the gate with a chance to change all that during the women’s snowboarding slopestyle event on Sunday.

The last competitor, Sadowski-Synnott had to beat a score of 87.68 set by Julia Marino of the United States.

Not only did Sadowski-Synnott do it, but she went well past the mark, scoring a 92.88 to secure New Zealand’s first-ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Even better than the moment for New Zealand was the reaction of Marino and bronze medalist Coady Tess of Australia.

After Sadowski-Synnott crossed the finish line, Marino and Tess mobbed her in celebration.

The threesome then stood to await the final scores, and when it was revealed that Sadowski-Synnott was indeed the winner, all 12 finalists gathered around her and jumped up and down in celebration.

Talk about sportsmanship at its finest!

3. Norway wins mixed team relay in biathlon, thanks to help from Slovenian physiotherapist.

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway looks on during biathlon training at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 2, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.

It’s no surprise that Norway, which is always a power in cross-country skiing and biathlon, won the gold medal in the mixed team biathlon relay.

But Norway wouldn’t have won without some incredible sportsmanship from a Slovenian competitor and physiotherapist, according to olympics.com.

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway approached a shooting station (biathlon is a mix of cross-country skiing and shooting) during the race when it was discovered she was missing something on her rifle.

Roeiseland was missing the iris aperture, which is a viewing slot placed close in front of the athlete’s aiming eye and is needed for accurate shooting.

A biathlete from Slovenia, Polona Klemencic, noticed earlier that Roeiseland’s rifle was missing the iris, so she alerted Slovenian team physiotherapist Ula Hafner.

After alerting the Norwegian team that the component was missing, Hafner went and found the iris in a pile of snow after the race started.

The component eventually made its way to Roeisland, who mounted it on the rifle and eventually helped the Norway team win gold.

“I’m glad I found it, and happy to help,” Hafner said to olympics.com. “I was happy for them. I know that without an iris aperture, Norway would have had a very difficult time today.”

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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