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.
Many athletes come to the Olympic Games with very high expectations, both for themselves and from their country. Many of them are world champions in their chosen sport and have been building up for four years just for this moment. One can only imagine, then, the disappointment and heartbreak if things don’t go as planned, be it their own fault or something outside of their control.
Here are 10 big disappointments from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
1) Olympic hockey being determined by shootouts
There is a practical reason why Olympic hockey games — both men’s and women’s — have been settled by so many shootouts. The nature of the tournament — and the small window of time in which the games must be played — makes it impractical to play limitless overtime periods to settle tie games. Still, there’s something somewhat unsatisfying about seeing high-pressure games come down to what is ultimately a skills competition, which is how the American women won their gold medal and how the American men were knocked out of the tournament. It’s hard to suggest an alternative, but it’s just another reason why the Olympic tournaments are vastly inferior to, say, the Stanley Cup Playoffs in terms of quality. At the least, perhaps medal games should not be determined by shootouts.
2) U.S. female figure skaters
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are underway, and it’s time to familiarize yourself with some U.S. athletes you need to root for. Here’s a look at 15 of the most important U.S. athletes competing at the Winter Games and what they hope (and many believe) they can accomplish.
15. Kelly Clark, snowboarder
34-year-old Kelly Clark is no stranger to Olympic competition, having competed in every single Winter Games since 2002. She won halfpipe gold in 2002 and then brought home bronze in the same event in both 2010 and 2014. Clark is also a one-time Winter Dew Tour gold medalist, one-time New Zealand Winter Games gold medalist ,and a five-time Winter X Games gold medalist. Her wealth of experience not only puts her ahead of the competition, but becomes exceptionally valuable for Team USA as a whole.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to represent my country to the rest of the world, to represent snowboarding and women, it’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life,” Clark told PEOPLE. “And it’s really fun as an athlete because you work four years for a 30-second halfpipe run, so you really get to see what you built. It’s really a rubber-meets-the-road type of situation.”
14. Bradie Tennell, figure skater
Nathan Chen clearly felt disappointed after falling during his short program performance at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang on Thursday night, and he acknowledged he had a mental issue.
Chen fell during his program on a triple axel attempt and ended up finishing fourth. Afterwards, he said he was in his head.
Chen also told NBC he let the team down. He said he needs some time to go over his mistakes so he doesn’t repeat them.
Chen received a score of 80.61 points, which is one of his worst ever in the short program. He will have some time to gather and regroup before the men’s individual event.
Though the Winter Olympics are sometimes looked at as the “little brother” of the Summer Games — there’s no basketball, track and field, or gymnastics! — the events always prove to be entertaining.
And though there’s one extra knock on the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games — NHL players won’t be competing — it’s all but certain Americans will still find themselves glued to the action. NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Sochi Games averaged 21.4 million viewers, which is a number comparable to the viewership of an early-round NFL playoff game or a much-hyped regular season game, an impressive feat considering the Games span 17 nights.
With the competitions based around less-heralded sports such as curling, speed-skating, and snowboarding, there are always a few breakout stars. In the 2014 Sochi Games (can you believe it’s been four years?), the U.S. had T.J. Oshie, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Sage Kotsenburg — not to mention the incredible commentary of Johnny Weir.
With this year’s Games less than one month away (they’ll run Feb. 9-25), we thought some of you could use a primer on a handful of the key United States athletes who will compete in South Korea. Here are 10 home-grown athletes who will likely dominate NBC’s coverage.
1. Lindsey Vonn, Skier