The Olympic Winter Games are supposed to bring the best in the world together in a variety of sports to compete every four years. Most of the competitors are exceptionally talented and it makes for some breathtaking moments.
But not always. Sometimes things don't go as planned and the best athletes in the world have their bad days. Sometimes things just get strange.
As the Winter Games wrap up, we highlight some of the best, some of the worst and, yes, some of the weirdest moments we saw in PyeongChang.
BEST MOMENT: Ester Ledecka wins the Super G
NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage had (understandably) moved on to men’s figure skating coverage because the results were all but set. Austria’s Anna Veith was going to win the gold medal, as the remaining skiers weren’t considered medal contenders. Then came Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka, who’d long competed in both sports, but was a more successful snowboarder. Not only had Ledecka never made a podium in the Super G, she never finished any higher than 19th in a World Cup Super G race.
And then she did something that not even she was prepared do. Ledecka knocked off Veith by one one-hundredth of a second, a stunning run that might be the most shocking result of the entire Olympics. Ledecka stood staring at the board that announced her as the winner, looking as if she was expecting the time to change. During the press conference, she wouldn’t take off her goggles because she said she didn’t put on any makeup.
The talk of “Olympic moments” can veer into the hackneyed, but Ledecka’s run is one of the greatest upsets in history. Her response was even more entertaining.
WORST MOMENT: The constant scheduling changes
It was wise for organizers to postpone women’s alpine events because of high winds, but it denied viewers two opportunities to watch Mikaela Shiffrin. Some expected Shiffrin to compete for five gold medals (Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, Slalom, Combined). Because of numerous postponements, the events required skiers to ski on back-to-back days. As a result, Shiffrin declined to participate in the downhill as well as the Super G. It’s good that the organizers kept the safety of the racers in mind, but it was disappointing to see a wondrous talent like Shiffrin denied two races.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Mexico’s Alpine Skiing Outfits
It’s not weird as much as it is glorious. Whoever designed these outfits should be awarded an honorary gold medal.
BEST MOMENT: Martin Fourcade’s photo finish
Frenchman Martin Fourcade came to the 2018 Games as biathlon’s leading man, but he had to overcome plenty of adversity to win his second of three gold medals in PyeongChang during the men’s 15km Mass Start. Fourcade missed two targets and fell down at one point, but rallied to set up a frantic sprint for the finish line against Germany’s Simon Schempp, edging ahead by less than a boot length in a photo finish—it was so close that even Fourcade thought he lost initially. After coming centimeters short of gold in the Mass Start four years ago in Sochi, it was sweet redemption.
WORST MOMENT: The American shutout continues
Biathlon remains the only Winter Olympic sport in which Team USA has never won a medal. After becoming the first American to ever win a world championship last year (in the 20km Individual event), Lowell Bailey failed to crack the top 30 in any individual event, while Susan Dunklee’s 19th-place finish in the 15km Individual marked the only top-40 representation for the American women in individual events.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Belarus’s flag mishap
Nothing about the final minutes of Belarus’s victory in the women’s 4x6kmRelay went according to plan. Darya Domracheva missed three shots on her first pass through the eighth and final shooting stage in heavy winds and needed to hit with all three manually loaded spare bullets to keep her slim lead on Sweden and France, but the former KGB agent came through. After reaching the homestretch all alone, Domracheva grabbed a Belarusian flag held by a bystander and pulled it back from a triumphant wave as she crossed the finish line ... only to have the flag slide off its pole and fall to the snow behind her.
BEST MOMENT: Nigeria’s historic bobsledding team
Africa’s first-ever bobsled team hailed from Nigeria, and, to refer back to that trusty cliché, it was, indeed, the definition of an Olympic moment. As has been written extensively, the Nigerian bobsled team is made up of runners, athletes who have competed, or had a good shot at competing, in the Summer Olympic Games, where Nigeria is a much more active participant. But the Winter Games? It was new territory. The women started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for training supplies, and now, here they were, holding and marching under the Nigerian flag at the Winter Olympics. As expected, they finished toward the bottom of the standings, but who cares? This is the stuff movies are made of (and, yes, many of the Cool Runnings jokes have already been made).
WORST MOMENT: The Jamaican Bobsled coaching drama
In a not-so-uplifting Jamaican bobsled tale, Jamaica’s coach Sandra Kiriasis quit right as competition was set to begin, and then said she would keep the team’s sled. It became a nasty back-and-forth of she said/she said: Kiriasis wrote on her Facebook page that “Without giving any reasons, I was told out of the blue that with immediate effect I should work only as a track and performance analyst, would have to leave the Olympic village, would lose my accreditation as part of the Jamaican team, and was not supposed to have any more contact with the athletes … I still do not know the reasons behind the decision of Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation.” Meanwhile, the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation said that Kiriasis was “a hugely destructive force on the team.” In a bizarre twist, Red Stripe (yes, the beer company) got involved and offered to buy the team a new sled.
The happy ending? This women’s bobsled team overcame it all, all of the nasty distractions, all of the noise, to make history as the first Jamaican women to compete at the Winter Games.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: A…tie??
Did you know you could tie for a gold medal? Because I did not! But for the first time in 20 years, two countries did. In a thrilling two-man bobsled event, Canada and Germany finished their four runs with the same time: 3:16.86. Perhaps one would assume there’d be some kind of advanced technology to break this tie (or maybe the bobsled equivalent of a shootout??) but alas, there is not, so instead we get two champions. Though it was a confusing scene, watching the two teams celebrate with one another was quite cool. I will say, though, that if I was Latvia, the country that finished next after Germany and Canada, I’d be pretty steamed that I received a bronze instead of a silver. If they get to share gold, why shouldn’t Latvia get promoted to a silver? Add it to the list of things I don’t understand about bobsledding (or medals, in general).
BEST MOMENT:The U.S.'s first medal in 42 years
In an historic first-ever U.S. win in cross-country skiing, and an indelible moment of the 2018 Games, Jesse Diggins and Kikkan Randall snagged gold in the team sprint with a photo finish. Diggins, fists in the air, scooted her ski boot over the finish line just 0.19 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Stina Nilsson. As Diggins collapsed, Randall flew over and tackled her teammate in celebration. The medal was the first of any color for the U.S. in cross-country in 42 years. The sport was otherwise dominated by the Nordic countries in PyeongChang, as was expected––Norway's Marit Bjoergen has won 14 Olympic cross-country medals herself since her 2002 debut, half of them gold, becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.
WORST MOMENT: The Puking Cross Country Skiers
Cross-country skiers do a lot of falling over and puking when their races finish and, thankfully, Deadspin’s Bill Bradley did some research to help us understand why. It’s really hard, apparently. Like harder than running or swimming or almost anything else––it’s both anaerobic and aerobic, the true definition of a full-body workout. But it sure brings some added drama to the finish line, and it sure was sweet to see those two two American gold-medalists hugging in the snow after their win. We can all be thankful their finish only showcased the collapsing phenomenon and not the barfing one.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: The Oily Shirtless Tongan…skis???
Shirtless Tongan Pita Taufatofua, he of Rio flag-bearing fame, quickly learned to ski for this Olympics, allowing the world to continue drooling over his well-built and well-oiled upper body. He was pretty stressed out about falling down and embarrassing himself during his cross-country skiing debut, but he stayed upright and didn’t finish last: he was 114th out of 116 finishers. This time around, the shirtless wonder won hearts with his spirit as well as his structure. Taufatofua’s training buddy from Mexico, German Madrazo, proudly brought up the rear in their race, crossing the finish line while waving a Mexican flag.
BEST MOMENT: Team Shuster does the damn thing
Obviously the highlight of the tournament—for any non-Swedes and non-Canadians out there—is the stunning gold medal for Team USA’s men. I went to their seventh game, when they were sitting at 2-4 in the round-robin, which was first of five consecutive must-win games that John Shuster and Co. actually won. To see that particular team bounce back from previous heartbreak in the Olympics and win the U.S.’s first ever gold in curling was one of the highlights of the Games.
But I also want to throw some love to mixed doubles. The format made its Olympic debut this year, in a classic example of giving the people what they want: more curling, round the clock, all Olympics long. We finally got curling every single day, starting even before the Opening Ceremony. It seemed to be a success, based on the tweets I saw from Americans at all hours that first week, and falling in love with the #HamFam early also gave fans some curlers they already recognized throughout the men’s and women’s tournaments. Mr. T certainly approved, and so do I.
WORST MOMENT: Great Britain's video review controversy
The Olympics were not without controversy on the curling sheet. (Not that controversy. Believe me, we’ll get there.) Another one came at the conclusion of the women’s match between Great Britain and Sweden. In the 11th end, Great Britain skip Eve Muirhead was penalized for failing to release the rock before the hogline. The red light on the rock flashed to indicate a foul, even though video clearly showed that she released it in plenty of time. It’s interesting that they have technology in the stone, but no video. Not surprisingly, many are already calling to institute replay, and it does seem easy enough to have a camera directly across both hoglines. Do I dread a future where curling becomes yet another sport slowed down by too many replays on obvious calls? Yes. But is it more important to make sure that the calls are correct? A more resounding yes. Both teams ended up making the semifinal, so it’s really no harm, no foul. But this still wasn’t a great moment for curling on such a big stage.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Russia dopes again
In a headline that easily could have been cooked up by The Onion before the Games started, a Russian curling bronze medalist was busted for PEDs. It was hard to place this in the right category. Was it the best moment? There are still many who say curling isn’t a real sport, and that people at home could do it, but nothing legitimizes the requisite athleticism of a sport more than a good-old-fashioned Russian doping scandal. Was it the worst? You know, cheating at sports, destroying the sanctity of an otherwise clean Olympics (ha!) and all that. Let’s just mark it down as the funniest. This will be the most memorable thing about Olympic curling this year and we all know why.
BEST MOMENT: David Wise defends gold in the men’s halfpipe (and brings his family up on the podium after); Alex Ferreira wins silver
There have only been two Olympic freestyle skiing halfpipe competitions in Olympic history, and one man has won both. After crashing on his first two runs in the halfpipe (which was reportedly due to an issue with his ski bindings), Wise threw down a nearly perfect run on his third try to take the lead ahead of fellow American Alex Ferreira—the two won the gold and silver, respectively. To further commemorate the moment, Wise’s two young children later joined him on the podium to continue the celebration.
WORST MOMENT: Maddie Bowman lying in the halfpipe crying after failing to land the last trick on her last run
On all three of Maddie Bowman’s halfpipe runs, she attempted back-to-back 900s and on all three of her runs, she crashed on the last trick. After her final run, the American freeskier remained down at the bottom of the halfpipe, hands covering her goggled eyes, undoubtedly overcome with emotions. The medical team rushed to her side, but it was hard to imagine that she was more injured than absolutely devastated, her hopes of defending her gold medal from the 2014 Games laying at the bottom of the halfpipe with her.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Elizabeth Swaney’s trick-less run
Watching Hungary’s Elizabeth Swaney drop into the halfpipe and do hardly more than an alley-oop (a 180-degree turn) during her run turned into one of the most brow-furrowing moments of these Winter Olympics.
Was she injured? Did she show up to the wrong event? No, and no. Turns out, she essentially gamed the system to qualify for the Games—and even though her routine was far inferior to those of her peers, she can still call herself an Olympian. So…way to go, Elizabeth??
BEST MOMENT (TIE): Any time Yuzuru Hanyu took the ice; The battle between Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova
It's daunting to name just one moment that covers all of the incredible figure skating that went on during these Olympics. Adam Rippon was electric and raw; honest and hilarious. Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, the most decorated ice dancers of all time, stole the hearts of all nations, and won the gold in what’s almost surely their final Olympics. AljonaSavchenko, in her fifth Olympic Games, wept with joy after skating a masterful pairs routine with partner Bruno Massot to climb back from fourth place and finally win her first Olympic god.
But when it comes to the best, it starts and ends with Yuzuru Hanyu. The 23-year-old Japanese skater’s programs are sheer, unmatchable beauty. He’s mesmerizing—the way he mixes artistry and theatre with technical execution, all while looking like he’s floating on ice. It’s why he won his second straight Olympic gold—the first man to accomplish the feat since Dick Button did it in 19—and why he is perhaps the greatest male figure skater of all time. Any time he stepped on the ice, you knew that you were about to watch something special, something you may well never see again. The images of fans flooding the ice with Winnie the Pooh bears for him won’t soon fade from memory, either.
The other best moment was pure drama. The battle for gold between the two Russian teenagers, 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva and 15-year-old Alina Zagitova, who share a coach, has enough storylines to fill a reality show. Medvedeva is the artistic, graceful one, the one who was supposed to grab the gold, the one whose time was supposed to be now. Zagitova is the precocious 15-year-old whose astronomical rise threw a wrench into the entire plan. Medvedeva glides and acts and feels, Zagitova leaps and jumps, and then jumps again, stacking the second-half of her routine with jumps on tired legs to gain even more points. The final score—Zagitova winning gold by a mere 1.3 points—was a fitting conclusion to a stunning, classic rivalry.
WORST MOMENT: Mirai Nagasu's bizarre press conference
Mirai Nagasu became the queen of the Olympics early after she became the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympic Games, helping secure a bronze for the US in the team event. And... that's about where the feel-good story ends. She didn't land the axel in her individual short program, and then didn't even attempt it in her long program, finishing 12th in the long program and in 10th place overall. And then, after said poor performance, she decided to place blame on her other American teammates, saying she "saved" the bronze in the team event, as well her Canadian competitor who was, (unlike Nagasu) devastated after a disappointing performance in her long program. “I smiled in the middle of my program, which is really rare for me. So I enjoyed myself, and I thought of this as my audition for Dancing With the Stars,” Nagasu said. It's a very bizarre and unpleasant ending to what was a dream story.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Those freaking wardrobe malfunctions
Seriously, what was going on with these costume issues this year? In addition to the now famous mishap with ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis’s outfit, which came undone and led to what Papadakis calls “my worst nightmare happening in the Olympics,” South Korean skater Yura Min also had her own issue, where her costume slipped off in the back, leaving her to fiddle with it during her routine. The fact that both of these women continued on as valiantly as they did—and in the case of Papadakis, went on to win a silver medal in spite of it—is admirable and a testament to their grace and professionalism. The fact that they need to be worrying about it at all, though, is ridiculous. I’m all for the Mae-Berenice-Meite route: a top over pants. Or, honestly, whatever is the most comfortable for the skater. But it does seem like it should be someone’s job to make sure an Olympic figure skater should not have to worry that her main storyline coming out of the most exciting event of her professional career including the term “nip slip.”
BEST MOMENT: Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s dangle
A little more than 24 hours after the American men failed to score on all five attempts during a shootout loss to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, the American women saw their heart-stopping gold-medal match reduced to the tiebreaking format that hockey fans love to hate. After Team USA and Canada couldn’t be separated over the first five shootout turns, Lamoureux-Davidson pulled out a deke in the first sudden-death round that will live forever in USA Hockey lore. The trick (dubbed “Oops I Did It Again”) strung together a fake wrist shot, a quick pull to Lamoureux-Davidson’s backhand and a wide drag back to the forehand to slide the puck past a helplessly sprawling Shannon Szabados.
WORST MOMENT: Ilya Kovalchuk’s trash talk
Those who prefer a little sandpaper in their international competitions might consider this the best moment of the tournament. But after strafing Team USA—a team made almost entirely up of amateurs and college players—for two goals in a 4–0 preliminary round win for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, former Thrashers and Devils sniper Kovalchuk undeniably added salt to the Americans’ wounds.
Kovalchuk’s abrupt return to Russia still grinds at some fans, and his delight at humiliating an overmatched team did him no favors. Though, in his defense, we do show those T.J. Oshie highlights a lot.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: The disappearance of Rasmus Dahlin
With all players under NHL control staying home, the star power in the men’s tournament was supposed to come from the small number of promising prospects in attendance. The headliner was Dahlin, a 17-year-old Swedish defenseman expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL draft. One problem: He barely saw the ice for Team Sweden, which erred on the side of experience in deploying its blue line and gave its budding star a total of just 7:35 of ice time in the only two games he played in at all. After riding the bench for the first two periods of the Swedes’ upset loss to Germany in the quarterfinals, Dahlin displayed the reward (an assist on his team’s first goal) and the risk (a turnover that led to a Germany tally) of playing a youngster in pressure situations, but Swedish media and North American fans alike were expecting a larger sample size.
BEST MOMENT: Chris Mazdzer winning silver, the first medal in men’s singles luge competition in U.S. history
The U.S. had won Olympic medals in women’s luge and medals in doubles, but never a medal in men’s singles luge ... until 2018, when Chris Mazdzer unexpectedly slid into second place to take home the silver. Mazdzer, who finished 13th in the 2010 and ‘14 Olympics, was coming off a frustrating few years on the World Cup circuit; he hardly contended for a podium position in the 2017-18 season, and wasn’t expected to compete for an Olympic medal. That is, until he put up the absolute run of his life (he explains the small tweaks that he made to his sled here). Mazdzer’s silver became official when the favorite, Germany’s Felix Loch, shockingly lost control of his sled and went sideways on his final run, dropping him from first to fifth.
WORST MOMENT: Emily Sweeney crashes
After missing out on the 2010 and ‘14 Olympics, Emily Sweeney was selected to Team USA for the PyeongChang Games, only to have her Olympic debut end in terrifying fashion. On her last run, sitting in 14th place, Sweeney careened out of control coming out of the ninth turn, a tough spot for several sliders before her, and slid to a halt on the ice. Thankfully the American got off the track under her own power, but still went to the hospital for precautionary tests. “[It’s] part of the sport, part of the name of the game, and I can’t beat myself up over it,” Sweeney told NBC.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Every doubles luge race?
So, singles luge makes sense: one person racing down an ice slide on a sled, fastest to the finish line wins. Doubles luge is the same exact thing ... but with two men (there are no doubles luge events for women) stacked on top of each other on the sled.
It’s not as random as it sometimes may seem—smaller athletes are usually on the back of the sled, while a taller athlete sits up front to lend to the gravitational pull of the sled. The athlete on top does all of the steering, while the athlete on the bottom—who can’t see anything, by the way—must be careful to not make any sudden moves, messing up his driver’s line. The races spawned plenty of reactions across the internet this year. And like most of the other luge events, the Germans were the best at it in PyeongChang, taking gold and bronze.
BEST MOMENT: All of Germany's moments.
It was a party for Germany in the Nordic Combined, as the country swept the podium in the large hill/10km competition. Johannes Rydzek won the Germans’ first-ever gold medal in the event, while his teammates Fabian Riessle and Eric Frenzel took home silver and bronze.
The trio started the race in the 4-5-6 spots in the lineup before catching up to top contender Akito Watabe of Japan (more on him below). The trio’s feat is also the first medal sweep in this Nordic Combined event. The success wasn’t limited to the individual events, either. Germany further added to its impressive medal count on by winning gold in the Nordic team event.
WORST MOMENT: Akito Watabe can't hold a lead
The aforementioned Japanese medal contender and World Cup leader Watabe did not live up to expectations in PyeongChang. First, he won silver in the normal hill event. Second place doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, actually…it's pretty bad when you start the event in first place, as Watabe did, and then clip skis with another competitor in the final lap, losing the top finish. Things only got worse for him from there.
In the large hill event, Watabe opened the cross-country leg with a 31-second lead over Rydzek, who ended up winning gold. Watabe finished the event in fifth place, 12.5 seconds behind Rydzek. Watabe told Japanese media that he “lost stamina” after his strong start.
WEIRDEST: Seriously, why isn’t there women’s Nordic Combined?
Despite the fact that it’s 2018, and despite the fact that there are men’s and women’s events for every other sport in the Olympics, there are no women’s Nordic Combined events. The official website for the PyeongChang Games attempts to explain this: “Since each athlete must carry out both ski jumping, which requires high technique and audacity, and cross country skiing, which takes great physical strength, it is one of the toughest ski disciplines and offers only men’s competition and not one for women.”
That is…not an actual explanation! The strength and endurance of women has created some of the most memorable moments of this Games. Plus, if you can find any human who agrees to become a specialist in cross country skiing for 10 miles while pausing in between to randomly shoot at a target, agreeing to a "penalty lap" if he or she misses, let alone multiple humans of both genders spanning many countries, I’m sure you can find a woman who is able to, and great at, combining the efforts of cross country skiing and ski jumping.
BEST MOMENT: South Korea's Triumph
In a defining and thrilling moment for the host country in these Winter Games, Yun Sung-Bin captured gold for the home team in men’s skeleton, becoming the first medalist from South Korea in any of the sliding sports. He is also the first athlete from Asia to win a medal in skeleton. Sung-Bin was in control throughout each of his four runs, posting the fastest times of the event. Winning is not a foreign feeling for Sung-Bin, who won five World Cup races in 2018 and secured a silver medal at the World Championships in 2017, but doing so on this stage, in front of his own nation, was a sight to behold.
WORST MOMENT: Uniform controversy!
In Skeleton, you’d expect this part of the recap to feature a crash—perhaps someone careening head first into the stands or a long skid after a poor turn. Fortunately, everybody landed safely this year! No disaster crashes to add to the highlight reel. Instead we get … a uniform controversy? Before runs even started, USA athlete Katie Uhlaender accused Great Britain of making illegal skinsuits that increase aerodynamics. The rules specify that no aerodynamic elements should be included in suits, which is what drew Uhlaender’s ire.
While it may sound silly at the outset, Uhlaender’s criticism became a story because medals can be determined by the tenth, hundredth or thousandth of a second. The suits were ratified by the IOC and the British Bobsleigh commission, so all it became was a disagreement. The accusation was a bit of a sour moment, especially since competition hadn’t even started.
Britain took the gold and the bronze in the women’s skeleton.
WEIRDEST/(COOLEST?) ACCESSORY: Those crazy helmets!
What do Iron Man, Dracula, a bear and Game of Thrones have in common? They have all adorned the helmets of Olympic skeleton competitors at the PyeongChang Games. Sliding head first down the track, skeleton athletes let their helmets do the talking.
—Dania Haughton & Gabriel Baumgaertner
BEST MOMENT: Robert Johansson and his "flying mustache"
This is not to take anything away from Poland’s Kamil Stoch, who soared his way into the men’s large hill history books as he became the first man to win back-to-back Olympic medals in large hill since 1988. But Stoch, for all his greatness, does not have a world-famous mustache. Robert Johansson, who won Norway its first-ever ski jumping team gold, does. Not only did his 136-meter jump secure the historic moment for the Norwegians, but he did it all while sporting (and joking about) his immaculate piece of facial hair, one that distracted and delighted all of us throughout these Games. The clutch medalist also won bronze in the large hill and normal individual finals, and his Twitter bio simply reads: "Norwegian ski jumper with a mustache." In case you need more evidence, let's just look:
WORST MOMENT: No medal for Noriaki Kasai
It was not Noriaki Kasai's year. The 45-year-old Japanese ski jumping legend was unable to secure a medal in PyeongChang. In fact, the eight-time Olympian didn't even come close—he finished 21st in the men’s normal hill event and didn’t qualify for the final round of large hill, an event that he won the silver in just four years ago.
Kasai was also part of the four-man squad for the team event in PyeongChang, but Japan finished in sixth. He previously won team event medals in Sochi (bronze) and in the 1994 Lillehammer games (silver).
It was a disappointing ending for Kasai, who already has his eyes on the 2022 Beijing Games, saying he will “definitely be there,” according to The Guardian. He'll be 49(!!!) then, so if he gets there, we already have a pretty clear idea of what the best ski jumping moment at the 2022 Games might be.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: The coverage of Johansson's mustache
Robert Johansson’s mustache intrigued fans starting on the first full day of the Olympics at the men’s normal hill competition, when Johansson took home the bronze. As the games continued, Johansson’s mustache got almost as much coverage as the athlete himself.
An unusual moment happened during the large hill event when NBC’s Abby Chin asked Johansson, “How did the mustache feel in the air?”
Johansson’s response: “It feels fantastic.”
A good journalist would’ve asked a follow up question. Perhaps Chin just wanted to shave it for later. (Ba-da-bum!)
BEST MOMENT (tie): Shaun White’s back-to-back 1440s and Chloe Kim’s victory lap
Shaun White’s journey in the 2018 Olympics was a complicated one. After recording one of the greatest runs of his life, he was asked about a sexual harassment scandal that some felt hadn’t received enough attention. Instead of answering the question with any kind of grace, he said it was “gossip,” which required he apologize a day later. White may not be All-American in the eyes of many, but his talent and big-game abilities are like no other snowboarder’s in the world.
White’s first and third runs were astonishing. Despite significant challenges from Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and Australia’s Scotty James, White produced a performance that will be forever remembered in snowboarding history. Sometimes, it’s best to just watch and soak it in.
For Chloe Kim, America’s newest Olympic sweetheart, her best moment came after she knew she’d won gold. Operating with a commanding lead, Kim didn’t choose a safe route, but landed back-to-back 1080s to send the audience into hysterics and secure her status as one of America’s new celebrities.
WORST MOMENT: The forced Women’s Slopestyle run
Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas called it a “s--- show.” American snowboarder Jamie Anderson, who won the gold medal in the event, called the decision “super unfortunate.” Before running the women’s slopestyle, FIS (the international ski federation who determines whether races occur or not) had operated with significant caution, canceling several races due to severe crosswinds near the top of the mountain. Their caution may have been what forced the slopestyle competitors to snowboard in unsafe conditions that saw 41 of 50 riders fall. With the women’s giant slalom already postponed, there was nothing to broadcast in primetime. Olympic organizers and broadcast partners decided the slopestyle must go on despite vociferous complaints from riders and coaches.
When the gold medalist complains about unfairness, there’s a good chance somebody made a bad decision.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: Chloe Kim tweeting between runs
Civilians like us would probably be vomiting out of fear before competing in the Olympics. Chloe Kim was tweeting about combating her hanger (hunger + anger for those unaware) and extolling how “bomb” churros are (she’s right). There are plenty of jokes to be made at the expense of the new generation, but anyone with that kind of poise should be admired.
SPEEDSKATING (LONG AND SHORT TRACK)
BEST MOMENT: The U.S. medals after not even originally qualifying
The U.S. women ended a 16-year speed-skating medal drought with a bronze in the team pursuit. In the final, Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe and Mia Manganello skated until their legs were numb, flying in just 0.45 seconds ahead of the Canadians. The craziest part: they’d only just teamed up a few days before. The U.S. didn’t even qualify for the event, actually, until the IOC ruled in January that Russia could not compete, and a spot opened up. For Bowe, who just missed the podium in her other events in PyeongChang, heading home with a medal––no matter how she got there––is immensely satisfying.
WORST MOMENT: Kwang Bom Jong's fall(s)
North Korean skater Kwang Bom Jong was disqualified for pushing––and maybe even trying to pull his Japanese opponent down with him during his icy tumble. It wasn’t his first fall, either. They’d already restarted the race for him after he failed to stay on his skates at takeoff. After the eventful 500-meter race––Jong’s only event in the Olympics––the 16-year-old was ushered away from the rink without speaking to the press. The Japanese skater he pushed gave him the benefit of the doubt: “I believe it was unintentional,” Ryosuke Sakazume told Yahoo Sports.
WEIRDEST MOMENT: The women's 3000m short track relay
For newcomers to short track speedskating, here's a quick primer: It's insane. People crash very often and madness is likely to ensue. This was the case in the women's 3000m short track relay. South Korea won the gold, that much was clear. Everything else, though ... not so clear. Although the Chinese women crossed the finish line next, they were disqualified for their lane transfer, thus allowing Italy, the third place finisher, to take home the silver medal in somewhat of a deja vu moment for the Chinese (they were disqualified in this event at the Turin Games in 2006). The battle for the bronze was equally crazy. The Canadians were penalized for a major crash that took out several teams, and ended up disqualified along with China. As a result, the Netherlands, a team that did not even participate in this final! was awarded the bronze due to its record time in the B final (which is essentially a consolation race). Confused? Yeah, so are multiple entire countries of people.
Bonus weirdness: Though it wasn’t nearly on the scale of French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis’s unfortunate slip, Olympic spectators took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with the “crotch patches” on Team USA’s speed skating uniforms. However, Yahoo Sports did some real sleuth work to reveal the truth: it’s just there to make them faster. Under Armour made the super suits for Team USA’s skaters, and the crotch patch is made of a super special material to decrease friction by 65%! Only Edna Mode can top that kind of performance quality, surely.
—Katie Lundstrom & DaniaHaughton