Week 1 Recap:
The Olympic Torch was lit in Pyeongchang last Friday night in spectacular fashion and not even freezing temperatures could bring down the electric atmosphere. From nail-bitingly close finishes to unexpected upsets, the first week of the 2018 Winter Olympics has been action-packed. Let’s highlight some of the results…
1. 17-year-old American Blows Away Slopestyle Snowboarding Field
American Red Gerard transformed from a teenager just happy to be competing at the Olympics to an overnight ‘golden’ sensation after he stunned the world to win the Slopestyle Snowboarding event on day two of the Games. Gerard’s gold medal-winning performance reset the history books as he became the youngest Olympian to ever win a gold medal in snowboarding. Look for Red during the Big Air Snowboarding event starting February 21st as he attempts to earn an unprecedented second gold medal at these Olympics.
2. The Wait is Over for The Stars and Stripes in Men’s Luge
While the Men’s Luge final ended in despair for defending Olympic champion Felix Loch of Germany, it also ended in delight for Chris Mazdzer of the United States. Mazdzer became the first American to ever win a medal in the Men’s Luge event at the Winter Olympics after finishing second behind Austrian David Gleirscher. Loch, who was seeking his third straight Olympic title, held the lead during the entire event until a mistake-ridden final run dropped him from first to fifth. Mazdzer, despite enduring a difficult World Cup season, saved his best performance for last in what will surely be known as one of the most surprising events of these Olympics.
3. The Korea Women’s Ice Hockey Team: A Tale of Two Countries Uniting as One
Politics have unavoidably been a heavy topic of discussion before and during these Olympics, but the Korea Women’s Ice Hockey team is on a mission to paint a brighter picture instead. The team, made up of both North and South Koreans, is not expected to contend for a medal, but will surely gather much fanfare worldwide every time it touches the ice.
4. Another Teenager, Another Gold Medal in Snowboarding
Despite all of the hype and pressure on her shoulders, 17-year-old Chloe Kim delivered when it counted the most to win her first Olympic gold medal in Women’s Halfpipe Snowboarding. Kim joined fellow 17-year-old Red Gerard as one of the youngest Olympians to ever win gold and she did so in more than convincing fashion. The first of three runs during the Finals saw Kim shoot to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 93.75 out of 100 before she guaranteed herself gold with a stunning 98.25 on her third and final run.
5. Triple Axel History in Figure Skating
While the individual Figure Skating events are still yet to begin in Pyeongchang, the team competition provided fans with historic performances. Perhaps no skater delivered on that statement more than Mirai Nagasu who successfully completed a triple axel move, the first for an American woman at any Winter Olympics and only the third woman in history to do so. Nagasu led Team USA to a bronze medal finish and perhaps gave the world a preview of what is to come during the individual competition on February 22nd.
6. The Golden Comeback Is Complete
All eyes were fixated on American snowboarding hero Shaun White in the months, weeks, and days leading up to these Winter Olympics. Known as perhaps the most iconic winter sports athlete in decades, White has been traveling a road towards redemption after failing to make the podium in Men’s Halfpipe at the Sochi Olympics. On Tuesday night, he finally completed his comeback with a spectacular performance to win his third Olympic gold medal in Halfpipe, twelve years after winning his first. Although Japanese star Ayumu Hirano made the finals interesting by surpassing White for first place after two of three runs, it was the American who handled the pressure to score a near-perfect 97.25 to capture gold. Whether or not he decides to retire after these Olympics, White is back on top and has more than cemented his status as a legend in American and international winter sports history.
7. One Gold Down, Three More to Go?
Following several delays and postponements, women’s alpine skiing finally kicked off on Wednesday with the Giant Slalom event. U.S. based fans and television viewers who stayed up late to see Mikaela Shiffrin’s debut in these Olympics were not disappointed as she overcame the pressure and first event jitters to clinch her second career gold medal. Shiffrin, who could potentially win three more medals in Pyeongchang, did not appear to be phased by the compressed racing schedule caused by inclement weather on the mountain since last weekend. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Giant Slalom is not Shiffrin’s best event. Her quest for more medals continues today in Slalom which happens to be her best event. Stay tuned…