France tops medal table at Gangwon 2024 after day one. GETTY IMAGES

Ten gold medals were won on the first day of the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, with France topping the medal table with two gold, one silver and one bronze.

The journey was severely hampered by heavy snow, with up to 28cm (10 inches) of snow piling up. The organisation overcame the challenge by deploying hundreds of officials with snow clearing equipment to clear the way for the events to continue.

The French team, who finished tenth on the medal table in Lausanne four years ago, won two gold medals on the first day of competition. Jonas Chollet was the best in the men's snowboard cross after winning the heats with 19 points, tied with his compatriot Benjamin Niel, the semi-finals and a thrilling final, with Canada's Anthony Shelly just 0.67 seconds behind and Brazil's Zion Berthonico a distant third, 6.28 seconds behind.

The second gold medal for the hosts of the next Summer Olympics came in the men's individual biathlon event (12.5 km, 20 shits and 45 seconds penalty for each mistake). Antonin Guy won in 41:45.2, including a 2.15-minute penalty. Norway's Storm Veitsle took silver in 42:25.5 (three misses) and Markus Sklenarik was third in 43:01.05, despite shooting a near-perfect 19 out of 20 (10 standing and 10 down).

But what happened in the other eight finals? Italy's Phillipp Brunner and Manuel Weissensteiner started the men's doubles in the luge competition with first place in the first run (46.951) and defended their gold medal in the second run with a final time of 1:34.283 ahead of Latvia's Janis Gruzdulis-Borojovs and Edens Eduards Cepulis (1:34.630) and Germany's Louis Greubeck and Maximilian Kührt (1:35.076).

Brunner and Weissensteiner were the best in men's double in luge. CONI
Brunner and Weissensteiner were the best in men's double in luge. CONI

In the women's competition, Germany's Antonio Pietschmann dominated both legs by a wide margin. She was the fastest in the first run (47.985) and extended her lead in the second to take gold in 1:35.775, more than a second ahead of Italy's Alexandra Oberstolz (1:36.326) and more than a second better than the bronze medallist, Marie Riedl of Austria (1:36.928). 

Back to the biathlon. Ilona Plechakova of the Czech Republic won the gold medal in the women's individual competition (10 km and 20 shots) with only one mistake in a time of 37:03.4. Germany's Marie Keudel won the silver medal with 38.13.1 including 1:30 penalty time and Italy's Nayeli Mariotti Cavangnet was third with 38:23.0 and three missed shots. Heda Mikolasova of the Czech Republic was the fastest with 35:23.4, but her four faults (two in the second parade) meant that she only finished fourth. 

There were also two Olympic champions in short track speed skating. After finishing third in the quarter-finals and first in the semi-finals, China's Jingru Jang showed her superiority in the final over 1,500 metres with a time of 2:33.148, followed by her compatriot Jinzi Li (2:41.543) and Japan's Nonomi Inoue (2:42.293). 

Asia also swept the medals in the men's 1,500 metres. After winning the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, Korea's Jaehee Joo was the best in a thrilling final in a time of 2:21.906, followed by China's Xinzhe Zhang (2:22.095) and by another South Korean, bronze medallist Yousung Kim (2:22.148). USA's Sean Boxiong Shuai missed the podium by just 29 hundredths.

Yang Jingru and Li Jinzi from China won two medals in the short track event. GETTY IMAGES
Yang Jingru and Li Jinzi from China won two medals in the short track event. GETTY IMAGES

Ski jumping also crowned a man and a woman as the new Youth Olympic Champions. Slovenia's Taja Bodlaj took the lead after the first jump with 107.0 metres and 110.5 points, less than one point ahead of Norway's Ingvild Synnoeve Midtskogen. She was even better on the second jump and secured the first place with 215.7 points ahead of Josie Johnson from the USA (207.2 and the best on the second round) and Midtskogen in third place with 204.7 points.

In the men's competition, Ilya Mizernykh from Kazakhstan was third with 103.5 metres and 110.2 points in the first round, while two Poles were leading in the final. However, his second jump of 103.8 was good enough to finish with 214.0 points and take the gold after being the most consistent in both jumps.

Austria's Niki Humml took silver with 210.7 points and Poland's Lukasz Lukaszczyk completed the podium with 209.7 points. His compatriot Kacper Tomasiak, second in the first round, finished seventh after jumping only 90.5 metres in his second attempt. 

Finally, Switzerland's Noemie Wiedmer was crowned Winter Youth Olympic champion in women's cross snowboarding after winning the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, with an astonishing performance. France took two medals with Maja-Li Iafrate Danielsson in second place, 2.77 seconds behind the winner, and Lea Casta in third, 10.13 seconds slower.