The triumphs and sorrows of the games
by Katelyn Cody
The 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off in PyeongChang, South Korea with the opening ceremony on Friday, February 9. The competition actually kicked off a couple days early on the 7 for sports like Alpine Skiing and luge. Additionally, because of the time difference between here and South Korea, NBC started broadcasting the figure skating team event on Thursday, probably so they could make more money in ads, but hey figure skating is one of the most popular Winter Olympic sports.
Normally, you would think that the stars of the opening ceremony would be the athletes who worked so hard to make it to the games in the first place, but you thought wrong. It was actually, the performers who had to dance in a circle for the entire ceremony, including dancing to the viral song “Gangnam Style” by Psy while the United States walked in because nothing in this world is sacred. Other highlights of the ceremony included the flag bearer from Tonga who marched shirtless, for the fourth olympics in a row! On a more serious note, athletes from Russia marched in under a neutral Olympic flag, as their country was technically banned from competing after their doping scandal at the Sochi games in 2014 and North and South Korea marched in (and competed) together under a unified flag, giving the world a sense of peace and hope.
That first night of competition for the figure skating team event included one of the biggest shockers for American fans as they watched the United States’ “shining star” Nathan Chen fall during the Men’s short program, jeopardizing the U.S.’s standings in the event. However, after outstanding performances from Alexa and Chris Knierim, Maia and Alex Shibutani, Bradie Tennell, Adam Rippon, and Mirai Nagasu the U.S. was able to slide into third, behind Canada in second and the Olympic Athletes from Russia in first. It was during that team event that Mirai Nagasu made history as the first American woman and third woman overall to successfully land a triple axel on Olympic ice.
Red Gerard, the 17-year-old snowboarder from Colorado, won America’s first gold medal of the games in the Men’s Slopestyle competition. He also celebrated by saying the f-word live on tv and there was nothing NBC could do about it. In your face, censorship. The teenagers really showed off at this years’ games. Chloe Kim, who is also 17 years old and on team U.S.A., won gold in the Women’s Halfpipe and promptly became a Twitter sensation for tweeting about being hangry. Fifteen-year-old Alina Zagitova, competing as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, became the second youngest woman to win gold at the Olympics. That’s right, we’re all here wasting away at college, while kids younger than us are winning gold medals.
Other highlights from the ice include Nathan Chen living up to his nickname “Quad King” during the Men’s Singles Free Skate, despite disappointing audiences and judges during the Team Event and the Singles Short Program. He made history as the first person to land six quadruple jumps in one program. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot made history with the highest score ever recorded in Pairs Figure Skating, rightfully earning them the gold medal. The U.S. Men’s Curling team also won their first gold medal this year, in what is probably the most questionable Olympic “sport.” Maame Binney and Erin Jackson became the first African American women to compete on the U.S.’s speed skating team at the Olympics.
A rise in diversity was also seen at this year’s Games in the LGBTQ+ community. Athletes like Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy, (both American), and Eric Radford of Canada were loud and proud about their status as some of the first openly gay Winter Olympians. Rippon and Kenworthy have also been very vocal about their criticism of Vice President Mike Pence’s role as an ambassador to PyeongChang.
On the ski slopes there were many falls and missed opportunities. Olympic skiing superstar, Lindsey Vonn, came in as a medal favorite for the U.S. despite having several setbacks over the past couple of years with various injuries and surgeries. However, she only placed 3rd in the Ladies’ Downhill event and due to a missed gate, she did not medal at all in the Ladies’ Alpine Combined. Thanks to Mikaela Shiffrin’s 2nd place finish, the U.S. was still able to bring home a medal in that event. Although, Vonn played the role of a good sport and walked away from her self-proclaimed final Olympics with a smile on her face, dedicating her runs to her grandfather who recently passed away.