The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games featured 102 medal events, the most ever for a Winter Games. Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall (above) won the women’s cross-country sprint, the first-ever Olympic cross-country gold for Team USA.
By Josh Barr
The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games featured several incredible performances by Team USA athletes. Nearly 250 athletes represented the United States and they combined to win nine gold medals and 23 medals in all.
Team USA swept gold in the men’s and women’s halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarding events, with veterans Shaun White and Jamie Anderson and newcomers Red Gerard and Chloe Kim all claiming gold with memorable performances.
There also was the first gold medal ever won by an American athlete in cross-country skiing, as Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the women’s team sprint in a finish that will long be remembered. Mikaela Shiffrin won her second gold medal, putting her in rare company among American downhill skiers. On the ice, the men’s curling team came from the brink of elimination to win its historic gold medal, while the women’s ice hockey team rallied to defeat Canada in a gold-medal game for the ages.
Chloe Kim crushed the women’s halfpipe competition even though between runs she tweeted that she was “hangry” and wished she had finished her breakfast sandwich.
Snowboarder Chloe Kim’s Olympic debut was eagerly awaited and the 17-year-old from Southern California did not disappoint. Not only did Kim dazzle the crowd with her gold-medal run in the women’s halfpipe, she also scored points with social media posts that allowed fans an inside look behind the scenes.
Kim had been considered one of the world’s best snowboarders four years prior, but at 13 she was too young to be eligible to compete at Sochi 2014. By PyeongChang 2018, the spotlight was focused on Kim, whose parents emigrated from South Korea, and she was terrific before a crowd that include several relatives watching her compete for the first time, including her grandmother.
Kim had the gold medal wrapped up before her final run, which she used to become the first woman in Olympic history to make back-to-back 1080s.
“This is the best outcome I could ever ask for,” Kim said. “It’s such a long journey. Going home with the gold is amazing.”
Shaun White bounced back from the disappointment of Sochi 2014 by coming from behind on his final run to win gold in the men’s halfpipe.
As he prepared for the final run in the men’s halfpipe, Shaun White knew he was going to have to do something he had never done before. The two-time Olympic gold medalist found himself in second place. In order to win gold and fully bounce back from his fourth-place finish at Sochi 2014, he later acknowledged, he would have to match – or better – what Japan’s Amuyu Hirano did to take the lead.
So White – now the elder statesman of snowboarding – set out to try back-to-back 1440s for the first time ever. It was while attempting the four full revolutions of a 1440 that he crashed and smashed his face while training four months earlier, requiring 62 stitches.
In PyeongChang, though, White was perfect as he sailed down the halfpipe and scored a 97.75 to win his third Olympic gold medal and the 100th Winter Games gold medal all-time for the U.S. He burst into tears upon seeing his score posted.
“It’s rare you get these opportunities to redeem yourself in your life and your career,” White said, “and I took advantage of that.”
With her win in the women’s giant slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin became just the third American downhill skier to win multiple Olympic gold medals.
Weather conditions delayed the women’s giant slalom for three days, but when race day finally arrived Mikaela Shiffrin was ready to join select company.
The next-to-last skier in the field for the final run, Shiffrin blazed down the mountain at Yongpyong Alpine Center to become just the third American downhill skier ever to win two Olympic gold medals. At the end of her gold medal-winning run, Shiffrin fell to ground in jubilation.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Shiffrin said. “My best effort is good enough. It was good enough today, and I have an Olympic gold in giant slalom. It was my 15 seconds to let it all out.”
Shiffrin, who at age 18 became the youngest woman to win the gold in slalom at Sochi 2014, added a silver in the alpine combined at PyeongChang.
NBC’s call of Team USA’s first-ever cross-country skiing gold medal was one for the ages.
As Jessie Diggins stretched out her left ski and crossed the finish line of the women’s cross-country team sprint, race, she raised her arms above her hard before tumbling to the snow in jubilation seconds later, where she was mobbed by her teammate, Kikkan Randall.
“Did we just win the Olympics?” Diggins said, microphones picking up her words.
It was a historic finish for Diggins and Randall as the won the United States’ first-ever Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing. Bill Koch’s silver at Innsbruck 1976 was Team USA’s only previous cross-country medal.
Jocelyn Lamoureux-Morando scored the game-winning goal in the sixth round of a shootout with a move nicknamed “Oops I did it again” for its multiple fakes.
Thirty-eight years to the day after the U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey Team achieved the Miracle on Ice, the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team delivered its own moment that will live forever in Team USA history.
Trailing rival Canada by one goal late in regulation, Monique Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-tying goal and, following a scoreless overtime, her twin sister Jocelyne Lamoureux-Morando scored the sensational game-winning goal in the sixth round of a shootout to lift the U.S. to a 3-2 victory in the gold-medal game.
It was the first gold medal for Team USA since the inaugural Olympic women’s hockey tournament at Nagano 1998 and provided a bit of redemption having lost three of the past four Olympic finals to Canada, including in overtime at Sochi 2014.
Pushed to the edge of elimination, Team USA was resilient as it beat the best in the world en route to its first curling gold medal.
With four losses in its first six preliminary matches, the U.S. Men’s Curling Team found itself on the brink of elimination with three matches remaining in pool play, all against top opponents. But Team USA pulled off three consecutive victories to qualify for the Medal Round. There, skip John Shuster and his rink beat three-time Olympic defending champion Canada for the first time in the Olympics in the semifinals and toppled Sweden in the final to win Team USA’s first-ever gold medal in curling.
It was a stunning victory. Shuster had participated in the previous three Olympic Winter Games, but he and his group were not included when USA Curling created a High Performance Program following a disappointing performance at Sochi 2014.
Instead, Shuster formed his own rink, which subsequently won U.S. nationals and earned a spot in the High Performance Program, eventually leading to winning the Olympic Trials and a berth at PyeongChang 2018.