About halfway through the 2022 Winter Olympics — hosted in Beijing and running from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20 — we've already seen women racking up their gold medal counts, breaking world records, and making waves in speedskating, luge, and more.

The fight for representation in the sporting event has been long and hard won. Women competed at an Olympics for the first time ever at the 1900 Games in Paris. Of a total of 997 athletes, 22 women competed. 

It was not until last year, 2021, that, for the first time since the founding of the modern Olympics 125 years ago, the Games almost reached gender parity — of the nearly 11,000 athletes arriving in Tokyo, almost 49% were women.

In a world where women and girls are yet to see real equality, face the daily threat of discrimination and violence, lack access to equitable education and health care, are disproportionately impacted by the compounded affects of humanitarian crises, climate change, and more, celebrating their achievements across all areas of life is an important step on the road to gender equality.

So, without further ado, here are six women and girls achieving big wins at this year’s Winter Olympic Games.

1. Claudia Pechstein: Oldest Woman to Compete

Claudia Pechstein of Germany competes during the women's speedskating 3,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 5, 2022, in Beijing.
Image: Ashley Landis/AP

Speed skater Claudia Pechstein set a new world record when she became the oldest female Winter Olympian to compete. Pechstein raced in the 3,000 meters at the Beijing Games, aged 49 years (and 348 days).

The German, who will turn 50 two days after the Games come to an end, has previously won five Olympic gold medals over eight games.

2. Irene Schouten: Speed Skating Time Shatterer

Irene Schouten of the Netherlands reacts after winning the gold medal and setting an Olympic record in the women's speedskating 5,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2022, in Beijing.
Image: Sue Ogrocki/AP

Irene Scouten won the women's 5,000m speed skating event with a record time that shattered the previous Olympic record set by Germany's Claudia Pechstein in 2002.

Just a few days later, the Dutch speed skater broke another of Pechstein's records when she won gold in the 3,000m with a time just under a second faster than the previous record (which also belonged to Pechstein).

3. Natalie Geisenberger: First 3-Time Champion of the Women's Singles Luge

Natalie Geisenberger, of Germany, slides during the luge women's singles run 2 at the 2022 Winter Olympics,, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing.
Image: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

German superstar Natalie Geisenberger became the first three-time women’s luge singles gold medallist.

The most decorated female athlete in her sport, 34-year-old Geisenberger is widely regarded as one of the greatest lugers of all time. She is a nine-time World champion and six-time Olympic champion.

4. Suzanne Schulting: Fastest Short Track Speed Skating 1,000 meters

Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands, reacts after her women's 3000-meters relay semifinal during the short track speedskating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 9, 2022, in Beijing.
Image: Bernat Armangue/AP

Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands set a short track speed skating 1,000 meters world record in the women's quarter-finals.

Schulting let out a scream and raised her fist in triumph after crossing the finish line.

5. Ireen Wüst: First Athlete to Win Gold at 5 Different Olympics & Oldest Speed Skater to Win Gold

Ireen Wust of the Netherlands reacts during a flower ceremony after winning the gold medal and setting an Olympic record in the women's speedskating 1,500-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing.
Image: Sue Ogrocki/AP

The Netherlands' Ireen Wüst made all kinds of history at the Beijing Olympics, when she became the first athlete ever to win an individual gold medal at five different Olympic Games.

Qualifying for one Olympics is a big feat, but to attend and take home gold in five well, it had never been done, until now. 

Wust is among the most decorated athletes competing in Beijing. She has a total of 12 Olympic medals, including six golds dating from her first appearance in 2006.

At 35 years old Wüst also became the oldest speed skater to win gold at the Olympics.

6. Erin Jackson: First Black Woman to Win Team USA Speed Skating Medal 

Erin Jackson of the United States hoists an American flag after winning the gold medal in the speedskating women's 500-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2022, in Beijing.
Image: Sue Ogrocki/AP

Erin Jackson, a 29-year-old Florida native and lifelong rollerblader, became the first Black woman to win Team USA a gold medal in speed skating.

Jackson finished her lap in just 37.04 seconds, earning Team USA's first gold in the women’s 500 meter speed skating race since 1994. 

She was also the first Black woman to make it on to Team USA as a speed skater.

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Winter Olympics 2022: 6 Women & Girls Breaking Records and Making History

By Tess Lowery