As the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games come to an end, many Americans return home as medalists
By Zach Backiewicz, ’19
As the 2018 Winter Olympic Games came to a close, Team USA finished fourth in the total medal count with 23 medals. Throughout the two weeks, there were many highlights and amazing performances by the American athletes.
USA’s Jamie Anderson became the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals in snowboard. Anderson took home a gold medal for the United States in the women’s snowboard slopestyle after performing an error-free final round with a score of 94.00. During her competition, powerful winds made it very difficult for the snowboarders to perform effectively, affecting all of the competitors. Knowing so many riders in front of her were falling, Anderson dialed back her game plan and even made a midair decision to flip once off of one jump. Anderson was able to overcome fellow American Julia Marino who placed second and Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi who placed third. Even though the event was delayed for roughly an hour and other snowboarders were complaining about the conditions, Anderson later responded saying,“It’s not like what we’re doing is safe anyhow.”
Anderson is now a two-time Olympic women’s snowboard slopestyle gold medalist as she also won gold in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
At the age of only 17, American Chloe Kim took control of the Olympic headlines after she won the gold medal in the women’s snowboard halfpipe competition. Even though Kim knew she was going to become an Olympic gold medalist heading into her third and final run of the competition, she performed a nearly perfect final run with a score of 98.25 points. To put Kim’s dominance into perspective, she defeated the silver medalist, Liu Jiayu, by a difference of eight points.
Kim is also known for her tweets during the Olympics. In the middle of her event, Kim tweeted, “Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self-decided not to and now I’m getting hangry.” Overall, Kim’s performance was one of the many highlight performances by team USA.
While many of the American women performed highly in their snowboarding competitions, a few American men made headlines with their gold medal performances. Another teen sensation at the age of 17, Red Gerard became the first Winter Olympics medalist born in the 21st century. For the teen sensation, this was his first ever Winter Olympic Games appearance. The morning of the final round for the men’s snowboard slopestyle competition, it is fair to say that Gerard had quite the experience. His roommate, Olympian snowboarder Kyle Mack, had to wake him up after Gerard slept past the time he had intended to wake up. The night before, Gerard had fallen asleep watching Netflix. Once awake, he discovered that he couldn’t find his jacket and had to borrow his roommate’s.
However, this didn’t stop Gerard from being a gold medalist. Being known for his creativity, Gerard received a score of 87.16, narrowly defeating Canadian Max Parrot by a difference of one point. During his first Olympic Games, Gerard became a gold medalist and a sensation among fellow American teens.
On the other hand, American Shaun White was already accustomed to the bright lights of the Olympics. This year’s Olympics was White’s fourth ever Olympic performance and he currently holds the record for most gold medals by a snowboarder in Winter Olympics history. White won his third Olympic gold medal for the Men’s Halfpipe event in dramatic fashion with a score of 97.75, with Ayumu Hirano of Japan taking the silver medal and Scott James of Australia taking the bronze. Both Red Gerard and Shaun White performed well in their events, representing America with gold medals.
American cross-country skiers Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggin pulled one of the biggest upsets in this year’s Winter Olympic Games, winning a gold medal in the women’s team sprint. The performance by the two American skiers was the first time the United States has even reached the podium in an Olympic cross-country race since 1976. But more importantly, it was Team USA’s first ever gold medal in cross-country skiing. Both of those women have considerable experience as Randall has skied in five Winter Olympics Games with this being Diggin’s second appearance. To capture the gold medal for this event, the American skiers finished with the event in a time of 15:56.47, edging Sweden by a narrow 0.19 seconds.
The last time the United States Women’s Hockey team won a gold medal was back in 1998 at the Nagano Winter Olympic Games.
However, this year, the women’s team finally brought home the gold medal to the United States, defeating Canada women hockey team by a final score of 3-2. Hilary Knight and Monique Lamoureux scored in regulation before players Jocelyn Lamoureux, Amanda Kessel and Gigi Marvin came through in the shootout to defeat Candan in overtime. The victory avenges the Americans’ brutal loss to the Canadians in the Olympic gold medal game four years ago in Sochi.
After what was looking like a third straight Winter Olympic curling disaster, somehow Team USA somehow brought home the gold medal. The team struggled at the beginning of the tournament, starting with a 2-4 record. Skipper John Shuster, the face of American curling for the past four Winter Olympics, rallied with his teammates Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Joe Polo to win five straight matches to take home the gold. In the gold medal game, Team USA defeated Sweden, the top in the world, by a score of 10-7.
From broken arm bones to torn knee ligaments, all different forms of injuries have disrupted the success of Lindsey Vonn’s skiing career. Even though Vonn didn’t win any gold medals during these Olympic Games, she still managed to scuffle up a bronze medal in the women’s downhill skiing competition. Vonn came into these games hoping that she could manage to somehow win a medal in the events that she competed in. After winning the bronze medal, Vonn honored her late grandfather, a Korean War veteran who died the previous November, by competing with his initials on her helmet. In her interview following the medal ceremony discussing her grandfather, Vonn said, “Our family never gives up and I never gave up. I kept working hard, and I’m really proud of this medal, and I know he is too.”
Vonn has won a total of three Olympic medals including one gold medal during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Vonn’s numerous injuries could be the deciding factor for her retirement but regardless she had a successful career.