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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

15 best moments of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games

Ester Ledecka

The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are in the books. Norway led the way in the medal count, bringing home 38 in total. Germany, including a surprising silver by their men’s hockey team, was next, and the U.S. was fourth with 23 medals.

From start to finish, there were shocking moments, controversies, messages of hope and peace, and some of the greatest athletic feats in the history of mankind.

Here’s a look at the 15 best moments from the 2018 Games:

15. North Korea and South Korea unite during opening ceremonies

Much was made over the North Koreans and South Koreans finding enough common ground so that both could compete in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. And while some of it may have been political posturing, at least for one brief moment, the two sides found peace and marched proudly under one flag during the opening ceremonies. It was in stark contrast to the 1988 Games held in Seoul, where the North Koreans not only refused to compete, but carried out a terrorist attack on a South Korean jetliner 10 months prior to the opening ceremonies. And considering North Korea could be seen from the mountain slopes in the Gangwon Province, it was particularly symbolic — a memorable and hopeful way to open the games.

14. Nathan Chen’s remarkable comeback

Nathan Chen arrived in South Korea with high expectations. Unfortunately, Chen got off to what he called a “disastrous” start, as he fell and failed to land several tricks in both the team skate and short program. The struggles prevented Chen from landing his planned jump competition and all but eliminated him from medal contention. But with no quit in him, Chen returned to the ice and promptly made history, landing six quadruple jumps, which had never before been done in the Olympics. And while it wasn’t enough for Chen to medal, it catapulted him from 17th place to fifth place.

“I felt accomplished despite the short programs,” Chen told PEOPLE. “And part of me was disappointed because I had laid down such a great long program and also such a terrible short program, they [wouldn’t] really match up and I [wouldn’t] be able to make that podium spot.”

13. Lindsey Vonn ends Olympic career with bronze, tears

Vonn, 33, is arguably the greatest female Alpine skier in American history, but as her body breaks down, it is believed 2018 will be her final opportunity to compete at the Olympic level. And while skiing in front of her family and in memory of her grandfather, a Korean War veteran who died several months ago, Vonn took home one final medal — a bronze in the downhill. She then gave an emotional interview.

“It’s been really hard for me not to get emotional for so many reasons, especially because of my grandfather,” Vonn told NBC in a post-race interview. “I wanted to win so much because of him, but I still think I made him proud. Our family never gives up, and I never gave up. I kept working hard, and I am really proud of this medal, and I know he is, too.”

Vonn then spread some of her grandfather’s ashes on the slopes so that a part of him would “always remain in South Korea.”

12. Yuzuru Hanyu wins back-to-back golds in men’s figure skating

Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu won gold in Sochi, but after injuring his ankle in November, there was some concern that he may not have been able to compete in PyeongChang. His recovery took longer than most had expected, and Hanyu had only begun landing his triple axel roughly three weeks ago, and his quads two weeks ago. But when it came time to compete, Hanyu was perfect, earning a score of 317.85. He won back-to-back gold medals for the first time since Dick Button in 1948 and 1952. Hanyu also became only the fourth skater to win back-to-back golds in Winter Olympics history.

11. Chloe Kim lands back-to-back 1080s

History was the theme in PyeongChang, and snowboarder Chloe Kim carved out a piece of her own. The 17-year-old became the first ever Olympian to land back-to-back 1080s during her women’s halfpipe final run. The irony of her record-setting performance was that she had already secured a gold medal prior to the final run, and her third run meant very little in the grand scheme of things. But she instead decided to save her best for last and wowed the world with a never-before-seen performance, earning a score of 98.25.

“Going into my third run I knew that I was taking home the gold,” Kim told the New York Times. “But I just knew that I wasn’t going to be completely satisfied taking home the gold and knowing that I could have done better.”

Kim leaves PyeongChang as one of the most popular US athletes, and she is well-positioned to capitalize on her newfound fame.

Red Gerard

10. Red Gerard goes classic teenager before winning gold

17-year-old Red Gerard and his family became internet sensations during the 2018 Winter Olympics, and he capped off his newfound fame with a pair of gold medals to boot. But he didn’t go viral because of his impressive snowboarding performances, but rather, because he’s a typical teenager, and that showed through during competition. Gerard overslept the morning of his first gold medal run, having fallen asleep watching an episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Netflix the night prior. In a rush, he also lost his jacket and was forced to borrow that of his snowboarding teammate, Kyle Mack. Meanwhile, 17 members of his family were dominating Snapchat with videos of them shotgunning beer in preparation for Gerard’s run. Then, after failing during his first two slopestyle runs, he nailed his third run and became the first American of the Games to take home a gold medal. Shocked by the victory, Gerard shouted a memorable expletive on TV.

9. American men win curling gold for first time ever

Out of the gate, the U.S. men’s curling team struggled and didn’t appear poised to compete for a gold medal. However, they rebounded and completed a remarkable and stunning 10-7 upset of Sweden in the gold medal match. It was the first time in history that American men won a gold medal in curling, and it was made all the more remarkable given the hole they had to climb out from.

“We’ve played our best when our backs were up against the wall,” U.S. vice Tyler George told NPR. “We took it to another level this week. Usually we’re fighting and scrapping to get into the playoffs but for five days we were the best team in the world and we did it at the right time.”

In a strange twist of fate, the curling team was then awarded the women’s curling gold medals by accident. But even that wasn’t enough to diminish the elation felt by the Americans, who apparently still have a ways to go before they truly reach celebrity status.

8. Rachel Homan’s husband nervously double-fists beer at 9 a.m.

Not every remarkable or memorable moment at the 2018 Olympics Winter Games happened during competition. In fact, Shawn Germain, the husband of Canadian curler Rachel Homan, stole the show when he was spotted nervously double-fisting his third and fourth beers during his wife’s 9 a.m. competition. Although most found the morning drinking amusing and understood the nerves, others were heavily critical. Germain took the high road.

“You can judge all you want. The stress level is high, I’m not a drunk, I’m just Canadian,” Germain said in a since deleted tweet.

Two amusing beer stories at one Olympic Games is a win for the world.

See Nos. 7-1 on Page 2

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