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#pounditSunday, November 28, 2021

15 best moments of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games

7. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un impersonators steal attention

With tension between the U.S. and North Korea at an all-time high, two brilliant impersonators brought a little levity to the situation in PyeongChang. During opening ceremonies, the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un lookalikes wowed the crowd and even had some people fooled. Unfortunately, they were both eventually booted from the opening event, but later returned during some of the competitions. Both Howard X, a Hong Kong-based entertainer, and Dennis Alan, a Chicago-based musician, said their presence was not politically motivated and merely served to entertain.

“I don’t use my likeness as Donald Trump to make any kind of political statement,” Alan told USA TODAY. “I realize it is a fine line because I am a lookalike of a political figure. My motivation is to provide entertainment and to make people laugh.”

Mission absolutely accomplished.

6. Shaun White makes Olympic history en route to gold medal

Entering the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, no person had ever won three gold medals in the snowboarding halfpipe. Then came Shaun White. The world famous White, a dominant American snowboarder and extreme sports legend, bested the field with a 97.75 score en route to that never before won third snowboarding halfpipe gold medal.

“I started seeing everyone putting these great runs in and I figured I would step it up,” White told NBC Sports. “They motivated me to send it on that last one.”

After his disappointing performance in Sochi, in which he finished fourth and failed to medal, it was all about redemption and history for White, just as another extremely accomplished Olympian noted.

5. Mexican cross-country skier finishes last, carried off like a winner

German Madrazo first put on a pair of cross-country skis last year. This year, he finished last at the 2018 Winter Olympics Games, crossing the finish line 26 minutes behind the overall winner. But that finish felt like a gold medal performance to Madrazo, everyone watching, and everyone he had just competed against. Skiers from Colombia, Tonga, Morocco, Portugal and other countries all awaited Madrazo as he made strides towards the finish line, grinning ear-to-ear with a Mexican flag raised high and proud above his head. He was then picked up and carried off like Rudy with the whole crowd cheering. It was a truly great and memorable moment that is not soon to be forgotten.

4. Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were electric

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir opened the 2018 Winter Olympic Games as flag-bearers for Canada, but that was just the beginning of what would turn out to be a dream. They broke their own world-record in the short dance en route to a gold medal, but their performance was so captivating that onlookers began to wonder about their remarkable chemistry. Carrying that chemistry over, they then went on to earn a gold medal in the ice dance competition as part of Team Canada.

“It felt so exhilarating to have delivered that performance,” Virtue told PEOPLE. “I kept looking at Scott and say ‘Did we really just do that?’ It was such a special moment to share together. The momentum just kept building, beginning to end, and the crowd was electric. It was 20 years in the making.”

Virtue later got a shoutout from Ryan Reynolds on Twitter, while Moir caught viral attention for his beer-swilling, emotional roller coaster during a Canadian hockey game.

3. Aliona Savchenko, Bruno Massot earn highest ever score in pairs skating

Aliona Savchenko has competed in five Winter Olympic Games with three partners and representing two different countries. Never before had she won gold until Bruno Massot came in for the assist. But the duo didn’t just win gold, they dominated with the highest-ever score in pairs skating. Performing to music by Armand Amar, the duo earned a record-breaking 159.31 points, bringing their total to 235.90 points and moving them from fourth place to first place and a gold medal.

“Today I wrote history,” Savchenko told NBC Sports. “This is what counts. It is my moment. We celebrated new year together and we said 2018 will be our year and it became our year.”

“I got the gold medal in my head. Yesterday I said I don’t want her to come back with another bronze medal. She deserved this gold medal,” Massot added.

2. U.S. women’s hockey team wins thrilling gold

With no NHL players competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, expectations weren’t very high for the U.S. men’s team. And in the midst of a 20-year gold medal drought, expectations were tempered for the U.S. women’s team. But the latter went on to make history and did so with some of the most intense drama the Olympics has ever seen. Going up against their fierce Canadian rivals, the women’s U.S. team battled tooth and nail in an increasingly stressful game that eventually pushed its way into overtime and then a shootout. Even the shootout eventually needed some additional shots to settle things, and came to a conclusion when Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson triple-faked her way to a goal and goalie Maddie Rooney blocked the final Canadian shot.

“The greatest day of all of our lives,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan told USA TODAY.

Making the celebration that much more amazing was the fact that the greatest win in women’s U.S. hockey history came on the 38-year anniversary of the men’s “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid.

Ester Ledecka

1. Ester Ledecka shocks world, wins super-G

Ester Ledecka entered the 2018 Winter Olympic Games as a two-sport athlete who was considered a long-shot (at best) to medal in the skiing super-G. Even Ledecka herself didn’t expect to reach the podium, which makes her remarkable 0.01-second victory that much more shocking. After her run, which came using the skis of Mikaela Shiffrin, Ledecka stared in disbelief at the scoreboard as everyone everywhere erupted in screams and applause. Her mouth remained agape as she struggled to understand what had just happened. It was, for all intents and purposes, one of the greatest Olympic upsets of all-time.

“I was thinking, ‘OK, they’re going to change the time. I’m going to wait for a little bit, and they’re going to switch and put some more seconds on,'” Ledecka told USA TODAY. “I was just staring at the board and nothing was happening. Everybody was screaming and I just started to think about, ‘OK, this is weird. Why do they scream?'”

But the scoring change never came. Much to her surprise, and just about everyone around the world, Ledecka had won gold, and she celebrated in a funny way. As it turns out, that was just the start for her in PyeongChang.

After her remarkable super-G victory, Ledecka returned to her primary sport and went on to win the snowboard parallel giant slalom. That victory etched her name in history forever as she became the first woman to ever win gold medals in two sports during the same Olympic Games.

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