There were thousands of amazing stories from the PyeongChang Winter Games. Champions persevered - and some lost. Underdogs triumphed. New heroes emerged. Last chances slipped away. These dramas are what makes the Olympics more than just competition.
As the 2018 Olympics draw to a close, we look back at some of the stories we loved best.
Mark McMorris Returns To The Olympics
A year ago, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris was lying in a hospital bed with a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures - and a collapsed left lung. He'd had a freak accident in the backcountry near Whistler, B.C. McMorris not only recovered, he rejoined competitive snowboarding. And during these games, he won his second Olympic medal, a bronze in Men's Slopestyle.
Fellow Olympian Silken Laumann summed it up in her blog for HuffPost Canada: "We're talking about a young man who suffered an injury so devastating he was unable to eat solid food for six weeks. He could have given up. Walked away and nobody would have blamed him. Yet, he made a choice to fight."
Canada's Figure Skaters Win The Team Event
Japan might have the world's best male figure skater. Russia's women are peerless. But for figure skating depth and breadth, Canada can't be beat. The team event also gave our figure skating veterans, many of whom will be retiring after the PyeongChang Olympics, a chance to stand on top of the podium. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Katelyn Osmond, Patrick Chan, Gabrielle Daleman, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all represented Canada, and it was an honour they didn't take lightly.
"At the end of the day, a medal's a medal and I'm going to hold this medal tight to me and it's going to be as good as the individual event," said Chan. We couldn't agree with him more.
Ted-Jan Bloemen Wins Two Medals For His Adopted Country
The Netherlands are a powerhouse in speedskating, but one that Ted-Jan Bloemen never felt fully comfortable in. Four years ago, Bloemen moved to Calgary and began his life as a Canadian athlete. In those short years, he's shattered records, and won World Cup meets. In PyeongChang, he joined the growing ranks of Canadian speedskating legends by winning a silver and a gold medal. The fact that he did so in the 10,000-metre race, beating out Dutch legend Sven Kramer, is even more astonishing.
America's Chloe Kim Wins Gold, Steals Our Hearts
A grey cloud hung over the U.S. Olympic team in PyeongChang. You can blame it on U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence's awkwardness over North Korea and LGBT athletes, or the controversy over how the team picked its flag-bearer. All of that disappeared when a fearless 17-year-old carved her way down the slopes around PyeongChang. Korean-American Chloe Kim won gold in the death-defying snowboard halfpipe and would became an instant household name (she's even on a cereal box).
Many at home could also relate to her story: an immigrant dad who sacrificed at great lengths to help his daughter achieve her dreams. "My dad has definitely sacrificed a lot for me and I don't know if I could do it, if I was in his shoes," the 17-year-old told Reuters. "Leaving your life behind and chasing this dream because your kid is passionate about this sport. I think today I did it for my family and I am so grateful to them."
Jong Jin Kim called his daughter his personal American dream. "I'm the dad of an Olympic gold medalist, not many people have this kind of feeling."
Mikael Kingsbury Wins That Elusive Olympic Gold
Plenty of great athletes never win an Olympic gold medal. Mikael Kingsbury came into the PyeongChang Games as the most dominant athlete in freestyle skiing. He's won the Crystal Globe, the title given out to World Cup champion for both moguls and all of freestyle skiing, six times in a row. But in Sochi, Kingsbury had to settle for a silver in the men's moguls. He changed all that in PyeongChang, taking gold in dominant fashion. The king has found his throne. Long may he reign.
Korea's Women's Curling Team Become A Sensation
Host nation South Korea has some new Olympic heroes. They're not daredevil snowboarders or gravity-defying figure skaters. They're four young women with nerves of steel competing in the brainiest of Winter Olympic sports: curling. Nicknamed the 'Garlic Girls' after their hometown's claim-to-fame as a garlic-growing centre, the women have become celebrities in Korea and abroad. Two teammates are sisters and all are longtime friends, according to Time, and their bond shows. And they have the best names: Sunny, Steak, Pancake, Annie (a yogurt brand) and ChoCho (a kind of cookie).
The team went 7-1 in the round robin and lost to Sweden in the gold-medal match, but they scored a silver, and a spot in history as the first team to put their country on the Olympic podium for curling. Is it any wonder the world is crushing on them?
Virtue And Moir Win Gold ... And Everyone's Hearts
What else can we say about Canada's ice-dancing champions and sweethearts Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir that hasn't already been breathlessly said, a thousand times over since the start of these games?
What will they do after this? More importantly, what will we do?
And let's not forget this now-classic moment of Moir, chirping the referees during the women's hockey game, where Canada left with a heart-wrenching, but nonetheless silver medal.
And then, their final skate in PyeongChang, the tribute to Gord Downie. It was quiet and beautiful and perfect. Canada could not be more proud of these two. Or more desperately wishing they were married. (Guys, they're not.)
The Jamaican Women's Bobsled Team (And Red Stripe) Comes Through
It was one of the best feel-good stories of the Olympics. Thirty years after Jamaica's bobsledders roared through the Calgary Olympics, two women were set to make history as Jamaica's first female bobsledders. But a dispute with their coach almost derailed that dream. Fortunately, Jamaican beer brand Red Stripe saved in and saved the day with a new sled.
And Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and brakewoman Carrie Russell went on to make history as the first women's team to compete for the country in bobsled at the Olympics, some 30 years after the men's team represented Jamaica.
Usain Bolt, the world-champion sprinter after whom the sled was named, couldn't have been prouder.
Marit Bjoergen Becomes Winter Olympian With Most Medals
It wouldn't be a winter Olympics without a Norwegian athlete doing something seemingly superhuman. In 2018, that honour belongs to cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen, who became the Winter Olympian with the most medals to date after winning her 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th medal at these Games. "If someone had told me in 2002 that I would be still standing here, still skiing here, I'd have thought that it's not possible, but I am here and I'm still fighting for medals," she told Reuters. Not just fighting, dominating. What a way to close out an Olympic career.
Snowboarder? Skier? Ester Ledecka Is Somehow A Gold Medallist At Both
Becoming an Olympic medallist in one discipline is something people work their whole lives to achieve. So people noticed when Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka somehow won gold in the alpine Super-G (yes, she beat Lindsey Vonn). Ledecka was 43rd in World Cup standings prior to the event. A week later, Ledecka stunned people again by winning gold in snowboarding parallel giant slalom. "If you want to choose just one, choose one. I wanted to choose both, and a lot of people were telling me that it's not possible to get on the top in both. And, I mean, obviously, this. It is not easy," Ledecka told Reuters after winning her second gold medal.
Phylicia George Also Does Double Duty Like It's No Big Deal
Maybe you remember Phylicia George from past Olympics - but her accessories would not have included a helmet or bobsled - prior to PyeongChang, George was a two-time summer Olympian, representing Canada in track and field athletics, finishing sixth in the 100-metre hurdles at the 2012 London Games, and eighth four years later in Rio. Impressive on its own, right?
Well, George didn't stop there - she threw her helmet into the Winter Games ring in 2016, training for bobsled. Then she picked up World Cup gold in January with teammate Kaillie Humphries. Then a silver pre-Olympics.
And then mere months later, Olympic bronze in PyeongChang with Humphries. George is now the first black woman from Canada to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games. What have you been doing lately?
LGBTQ Athletes Are Out At The PyeongChang Olympics
There were more than a dozen out athletes at these Games, which may seem like small numbers considering more than 3,000 athletes participated at the PyeongChang Olympics. But make no mistake, these games had some huge LGBTQ moments. Canada's Eric Radford became the first out athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. American figure skater Adam Rippon became a celebrity for his hilarious figure skating commentary and his outspoken criticism of U.S. vice-president Mike Pence.
American snowboarder Gus Kenworthy got a pre-competition kiss from his partner, and it was shown live on NBC. It's something Kenworthy probably couldn't have done in Sochi a few years ago. Russia's homophobic laws and climate would have made it dangerous for him, and he wasn't out at the time, something that he said weighed on him while he was competing.
"I would have liked to have (won a medal) here, but even despite that, just getting to be myself at these Games, and be out, and be proud, has made it — I don't know, a much more fulfilling experience than Sochi when I was in the closet, in a hostile country, lying in interviews, and lying by omission, and avoiding questions." Kenworthy said to the Toronto Star while visiting Pride House, a safe space for LGBTQ athletes and their allies that Canada's Olympic committee hosted this year.
Of course, many LGBTQ athletes will go home to countries where their sexual orientation puts them at risk of persecution, imprisonment or worse. There's still much work for the world to do. The out athletes in PyeongChang have made history, and will shape the way forward for future games.
What did we miss? What was your favourite story of the Olympics? Team USA's Miracurl on Ice? Canada's domination at ski cross? Tell us in the comments.
With files from Lisa Yeung and The Canadian Press.
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