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Beijing 2022

Israeli skier Szollos surprises with 6th-place finish at Winter Olympics

After best-ever showing for Israel in Olympic ski competition, Szollos says ‘it’s an honor to be here, to represent Israel, and I’m really, really happy’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Barnabas Szollos, of Israel, celebrates after finishing the slalom run of the men's combined at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Barnabas Szollos, of Israel, celebrates after finishing the slalom run of the men's combined at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Barnabas Szollos finished in sixth place overall in the men’s alpine combined at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Thursday, in Israel’s best-ever Olympic skiing finish.

Szollos, a Hungarian-born skier representing Israel in his Olympic debut, finished an incredible second in the slalom portion of the event, and 11th in the downhill portion, granting him an overall sixth-place finish with a time of 1:45.04.

Gold in the alpine combined went to Austria’s Johannes Strolz, who finished with 1:43.87, silver was won by Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and bronze taken by Canada’s James Crawford.

“It was a really good race, I had a lot of fun,” Szollos said in a video message to reporters following the event. “To place sixth feels amazing and I’m really happy… it’s an honor to be here, to represent Israel, and I’m really, really happy.”

Ahead of the Games, the head of Israel’s delegation to the Winter Olympics, Yaniv Ashkenazi, said it would be “a very impressive achievement” if Szollos finished his races in the top half of athletes.

The alpine combined was Szollos’s third Olympic event, after he finished 30th overall in both the men’s downhill and Super-G. On Sunday he is slated to compete in the giant slalom, and on Wednesday in the slalom.

Israel’s Noa Szollos competes in the first run of the women’s slalom during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre in Yanqing on February 9, 2022. (Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

His sixth-place finish in the alpine combined puts him tied for Israel’s best Winter Olympics showing with ice dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski, who placed sixth in ice dancing at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Today, Chait is the head coach and choreographer for Israel’s national figure skaters.

Barnabas’s younger sister, Noa Szollos, meanwhile — also making her Olympic debut at the Games — competed in the women’s slalom on Wednesday and finished in 41st place. It was an improvement over her performance in the giant slalom on Monday, when she crashed during her second run and was disqualified.

Noa and Barnabas Szollos (Amit Shisel/Israel Olympic Committee)

She has one event left — the Super-G — which will take place on Friday.

On Wednesday, Israeli speed skater Vladislav Bykanov advanced to the semifinals of the 1500m short track event, but did not qualify for the finals, finishing 17th overall. He will compete in the qualification round for his final event, the 500m, on Friday.

On Tuesday, Israeli figure skater Alexei Bychenko fell during his short program, coming in 26th and failing to advance to the free skate, ending his performance at his third Olympics.

Alexei Bychenko, of Israel, competes during the men’s short program figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 8, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Pairs figure skaters Hailey Kops and Evgeni Krasnopolski will not hit the ice until next Friday.

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