A record edition, the second winter edition ever in terms of the number of medals. On the closing day of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, CONI President Giovanni Malagò and Secretary General and Head of Mission Carlo Mornati take stock of the Italian expedition to China at Casa Italia Beijing. And the numbers smile on the 'Azzurri': Beijing 2022 is the second largest edition ever, thanks to the 17 medals won - two golds, seven silvers, and eight bronzes -a haul inferior only to that of Lillehammer 1994 (which was an edition held after two years from the previous one and not after four years). Compared to PyeongChang 2018, the Italia Team grew by 70 per cent (there were ten podiums in Korea): starting from a previous winter edition in double figures, never had there been such large growth, going on to medal in two of the four new mixed specialities (the short track relay and the mixed snowboard cross).
'The grade, in my opinion, is a seven and a half: we did well. Olympic preparation, communication, the whole part of Casa Italia, the athletes. I have always said that we would win between 13 and 17 medals, but nobody can think that when you win 17, only two are gold,' President Malagò commented. A numerical reading could summarise that Italians are much better at winning medals than golds. A matter of cents, injuries, and judgements, but it is something to think about. But in terms of quantity, it remains a record expedition.
Compared to PyeongChang, among the big countries, only Russia grew more than Italy. At the same time, not even China, which competed at home, managed to have a percentage growth like ours.
Of the 19 Italian medallists, the third largest number ever, nine are male athletes and ten female athletes. Beijing 2022 was once again a female-dominated Olympics with 52.94% female, 29.41% male and 17.65% mixed medals.
The medals came from seven regions, but of this ranking, dominated for the second consecutive edition by Lombardy. Curiously enough, the top four regions (almost 85% of all medals) are the ones that will be hosting the next edition of Milano Cortina 2026: namely Lombardy, Veneto, the province of Bolzano and Trento.
With its 119 athletes (82 men and 47 women), the Italian team made the podium in eight different disciplines - something that has never happened in history. In the most successful edition (Lillehammer 1994), Italy won medals in 'only' five disciplines. Better than the 'Azzurri' in China were only Russia, Canada and Norway with nine disciplines. 'It is clear that we are multidisciplinary like no other,' continued the Italian sports number one. In terms of medal quality, this may be a weakness, but in terms of sports culture, this is an added value that we have. We are multidisciplinary and eclectic. It is an element of great strength, of deep pride,' Malagò added.
And although the number of countries winning gold is growing (23 against 21 in PyeongChang), the number of medal winners is decreasing (29 against 30).
In seven months, the world has held two Olympics (Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022) for the first time during the Covid 19 pandemic. However, in the sum of medals won, with 57 podiums, Italy is seventh behind the United States, China, Russia, Great Britain, Germany and Japan, while in terms of disciplines that have won medals, it is third behind only the United States and Russia.
Mornati explains CONI's approach to these Games: 'Organisationally, it was the most difficult Olympics, but the best organised,' the head of Olympic Preparation said. It was the first one organised remotely, and we did everything under strict rules. We were the only committee out of 91 present to build Casa Italia, never officially called a hospitality house, here and in Yanqing. The contracts were only signed on 26 January and 29 January. 2,400 of the 16,300 finalised' passed through Casa Italia. Then Mornati focuses on the work done behind the scenes with the athletes.
'Of the 119 athletes present here, 65 passed directly through our Sports Science Institute, as did 14 of the 19 medallists. Of the eight disciplines in which we medalled out of five, there was a greater impact on the Institute.
So many medals correspond to a hefty prize for our champions. 'We are talking about 2.3 million euros in prizes and almost half a million for our Olympic Club,' says Mornati. Of the 45 million euros that CONI receives each year as a public contribution, 12.5 million are paid to the athletes of Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 through the awards and the Olympic Club'. (photo Giuseppe Giugliano)
A few records to be framed in this five-ring event: FISI grew by 50%, and the FISG even doubled with an absolute record of medals won (eight). In terms of athletes, on the other hand, Arianna Fontana, winner of one gold and two silver medals, has become the most medal-winning female athlete in the history of Italian sport (summer and winter) and only two medals behind Edoardo Mangiarotti, who, however, compared to Arianna, made it to six Olympics. In contrast, Arianna has now made it to five. Arianna also holds the record of being the only woman at the Winter Olympics to have medalled in five consecutive editions (equalling Armin Zoeggeler among the men); Dorothea Wierer, with bronze in the sprint, became the first Italian woman to win an individual medal at the Games in the biathlon; Francesca Lollobrigida gave Italy the first female medal in the history of speed skating. Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner's gold medal is the first ever medal won by Italy in Curling at the Games; Omar Visintin won Italy's first medal in men's snowboard cross; Federica Brignone, silver medal at 31 years and 208 days, is the oldest skier ever to win a medal in the Olympic giant slalom in addition to being the first Italian ever on the Olympic podium in the speciality in 86 years of history and the second Italian skier to stand on the podium twice in an Olympics (after Deborah Compagnoni, Nagano 1998). Brignone is also the fifth Italian national to win a medal in the same discipline at least twice (the others are Deborah Compagnoni, Gustav Thoeni, Isolde Kostner and Alberto Tomba, who came in at three medals). A result achieved a few days later by Sofia Goggia, gold at PyeongChang2018 and silver at Beijing 2022, who is now the only Italian woman to have succeeded consecutively in the downhill: never had there been a podium in the women's downhill at the Games with two Italian women. This was thanks to Goggia and Nadia Delago (the only previous women's Super G in Salt Lake with Ceccarelli gold and Putzer bronze).
'The average age of the medallists is slightly higher than in PyeongChang. We are in the number of 26. I consider this a very good signal for Milan-Cortina 2026'. And just looking at the Olympics at home, Malagò adds: 'We dutifully asked for input to plan four years at best. We have been saying for months that every week is the right week to unblock the situation even though we are already late because we were expecting it between September and December. This is about taking boys and girls from 15 to 18 years old who have to be in a permanent retreat for four years, and funding is needed. Those who host the Olympics do much better. So you play the joker because you are in all sides.' The starting point is an edition that is already history: BEIJING 2022