Photo Courtesy: Bleacher Report
The Olympic flame in Sochi has been extinguished, but the 18 days of competition of the 2014 Winter Olympics has provided memories that will last athletes and fans a lifetime. There were moments and athletes that captured our attention as they accomplished their goals, and some who did the same in the process of falling short of them. Others were created away from the competitions, but sure provided some talking points.
Here are my top 14 moments of the 2014 Winter Olympic games:
14) Athletes, journalists arrives in Sochi to unfinished hotels and brown water. Keep in mind, this was just a handful of people, and many others actually raved about how great their accommodations were. This was mainly in the pre-Opening Ceremonies phase, but not many people had the bad luck of U.S. Olympic bobsledder Johnny Quinn. This poor guy got out of the shower, only to find his bathroom door was jammed or locked, so he had to punch a huge hole in it to escape. Days later, Quinn got stuck in an elevator.
13) The now-infamous fifth Olympic ring that didn't open the entire way during the Opening Ceremonies certainly got people talking as if it were a preview of things to come. Not only was it the only blunder of an otherwise spectacular opening event, it also paved way to a very successful Olympics.
12) Bob Costas is one of the best in the business, but all the attention Bob was getting wasn't due to just his broadcasting talents. What started as an eye infection in one of his eyes eventually spread to both, sidelining him from NBC's coverage for a week. Eye problems of any kind aren't fun, let alone having to deal with it in an international spotlight.
11) The women's figure skating competition was put under a global magnifying glass, after Russian Adelina Sotnikova emerged as the gold medal winner. Many questioned if some of the judges had shown favoritism to the host nation's skater, ignoring what some thought was a better performance by Korean skater Yuna Kim. My take (from what I know about figure skating)... the judges got it right.
10) Bode Miller's post Super-G bronze medal interview sparked quite a stir. One person called me heartless and pretty much said I had no sole for saying I didn't have a problem with the way NBC reporter Christin Cooper handled the situation. Well, I've had some time to think about it and... I still have no problems with it at all. Would I have asked the final question? Maybe not. Do I think she was wrong for doing so? Not at all. Even Bode Miller said he didn't have a problem with the interview, so we've now all been given permission to stop being upset.
9) Meryl Davis and Charlie White delivered the first U.S. ice dancing gold medal in Olympic history. They came in as favorites and put together a dominant performance that saw them run away from the competition. This was an event that certainly isn't up there with one of my favorites, but I still found myself cheering for the American pair. I think that happens to a lot of people during the games, and that's one of the really great things about the Olympics.
8) Maddie Bowman dedicated her gold medal in the first ever women's ski halfpipe to Sarah Burke, a Canadian skier who passed away after an accident on the slopes last year. Many credit Burke's efforts as a main reason several events were entered into the Olympics, including the ski halfpipe.
7) Sage Kotsenburg wins the first medal for the Americans at the 2014 games, winning the men's snowboard slopestyle. Kotsenburg would become a face of the Olympics for Team USA, as his casual demeanor and relaxed style made him an instant fan-favorite. Kotsenburg essentially became a world celebrity overnight. Gifts he received included a plane ticket from a fellow traveler so he could go see his parents, and an Olympic medal made out of bacon from Conan O'Brien.
6) 18-year old Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest women to ever win a medal in the slalom. It was very cool to hear her talk before the competition about how she would be skiing against many of her idols in the sport. At the end, it was those idols, who were experienced Olympians, looking up at her on the medal stand.
5) Noelle Pikus-Pace earned a big silver medal in the women's skeleton, her final race in the sport after coming out of retirement. It was a successful end to a long journey for the American athlete, who suffered a shattered leg when a bobsled crashed into her during a training accident in 2006. Pikus-Pace insists that her husband and two children travel with her to competitions, and says if that were not possible, she would have stayed retired. Family comes first to this elite athlete, and it was really cool to see her jump into the crowd to celebrate her silver medal with her loved ones after winning the silver medal.
4) A disappointing Olympics took a 180 degree turn quickly for Ted Ligety. After struggling in some early events on the slopes, Ligety rebounded to win gold in the giant slalom, giving him his second top Olympic honor in that event. He became the first American to win gold in the giant slalom and the first U.S. Skier with two alpine skiing gold medals.
3) Bode Miller's interview wasn't the only thing to make headlines... his skiing did as well. After some rough runs early in the games, fans saw a glimpse of Miller's old self, as he used a risky performance to earn bronze in the super-G. At 36, he became the oldest Olympic medalist and has won the most medals by an American in alpine skiing. The legacy Miller left is one of the biggest things I'll remember about the Sochi Olympics.
2) Shaun White entered the snowboard halfpipe as the favorite to win gold and left Sochi without a medal of any kind. White's qualifying run score would have been good enough to put him at the top of the final standings, but his final run featured a stumble and a fall. White would end up in fourth place, and for the first time in history, no Americans won medals in the event.
1) Team USA hockey made most of the nation drop everything and turn on the television. My entire family watched the shootout against Russia and I sat there and watched the medal round games with my youngest daughter, while we both chanted USA. T.J. Oshie became a household name, leading the Americans to an upset of Russia on its own soil, and we all bit our nails as both the men and women lost to Canada by one goal on consecutive days. The U.S. women would leave with a silver medal, while the men fell short and were blown out in the bronze medal game against Finland.
These are my top 14 moments of the games, but maybe yours are different. Feel free to share the moments that you'll remember from these Olympics. It had many ups and a few downs, but in my humble opinion, the Sochi Games themselves posted a gold medal performance.