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The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics' Biggest Winners And Losers

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fuagf Member Level  Monday, 02/26/18 12:24:12 AM
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The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics' Biggest Winners And Losers

"Russia barred from flying flag at Games closing ceremony"

Filip Bondy , Contributor

I write articles and columns about soccer and other beautiful sports

Feb 25, 2018 @ 09:59 AM 1,052

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Maybe he only won a team bronze medal at the Olympics, but Adam Rippon stole the narrative on NBC. (Photo by Valery
Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images)

The Olympic Games are a judgmental magnifying glass, and they are not always fair. In this very public forum, success is as much about expectation and context as it is about performance.

Some winners in Pyeongchang turned out to be losers, of sorts. Some losers were winners. Here, a list of the biggest hits and misses:


Adam Rippon: Maybe he only won a team bronze medal and finished 10th in the men’s figure skating event, but Rippon owned NBC. The network could not stop putting him on the air (even if Andrea Joyce never figured out what to do with him), and Rippon could not stop playing with the audience. His best line: When asked about his experience at the Olympics, he turned, looked straight into the camera and told viewers, “I highly recommend it.”

Rippon clearly has a future in the broadcast booth. Watch your back, Johnny Weir.

North Korea: For two weeks during these Games, North Korea was not viewed as an outlaw nuclear nation. Instead, Kim Jong Un’s sister was a global curiosity item, the country’s athletes joined South Korea in a show of unity, and a North Korean figure skating pair was portrayed as an example of loving persistence.

This may not rescue the country from dictatorship or sanctions, but the coverage humanized a population that is often viewed more as cartoons than real people.

Martin Fourcade: Every time you turned on the TV, biathlon was on. And almost every time biathlon was on, this Frenchman was winning another individual or team race. He captured three golds this time, to make five in his Olympic career.

This man can shoot. This man can ski. This man can smile into a camera and be very charming, in a French-accented sort of way.

Norway: How do they do it, with a population considerably smaller than New York City's? Theories include less-expensive access to athletic training, income equality at home and an emphasis on events that offer multiple medals, like cross-country skiing. Any way you look at it, though, 39 medals is an all-time record and a remarkable feat. All hail Johannes Klaebo.

Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva: We surrender, to the incredible balletic and athletic performances of these Russian teenagers. Medvedeva in particular was an engaging personality on and off the ice. The U.S. would gladly trade three of our figure skaters for their second-best finisher.

U.S. women’s hockey team: We all fell for that deke by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson. Fell hard.

Canadian ice dancers: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are not dating. We repeat: not dating. Please ignore all displays of passion in the rink, if you can.

John Shuster: Whether or not you can watch curling, the event was a mainstay, episodic series on NBC. Then the U.S. started winning, Shuster was blubbering on TV, and the guy became everybody’s favorite uncle/athlete with a gold medal. The man had stones and knew what to do with them.

Red Gerard: The weird thing is this cool, snowboarding, gold-medal dude isn’t nicknamed Red because of his tousled hair. It’s because his name is Redmond.

Tongan guy: Many thought Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless wonder, had gone too far competing in the Winter Olympics, but then he put together a respectable cross-country ski performance and graciously waited to welcome the last-place finisher. May his shirtlessness be with him.

Kikkan Randall: The U.S. squad’s one and only mother won gold in the cross-country team sprint, in her fifth Olympics. She had given birth to a son exactly halfway between two Winter Games, a new form of the rhythm method.

Ester Ledecka: She won gold in both skiing and snowboarding events. And nobody was more surprised than Ledecka, which made it all the more charming.


Nathan Chen: Never has the hype gone out of the balloon quite so quickly. Chen, a favorite to win the men’s figure skating title, had three chances to skate at the Olympics. He messed up two short routines, and his brilliant free skate was never going to be enough points for him to medal.

Chen was the frontman for NBC’s pre-Olympic coverage, along with Lindsey Vonn. Vonn fared a bit better, but it turned out that the network was looking in all the wrong places.

Russia: The Russians won only two gold medals – albeit in the most traditional glamour events, women’s figure skating and men’s hockey. That actually might have worked in their favor, proving the country’s innocence, if they’d just left South Korea with a clean doping slate.

Instead, while events were still going on, a female bobsledder and a male curler tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. There may well be more to come when the urine samples are re-examined. It doesn’t appear to be a systemic anymore, but the lasting image is not a pretty picture.

Shani Davis: Yes, he should have been the flagbearer. But yes, he could have been more gracious about losing the coin toss. Davis was once seen as the greatest long-track skater in America. Now, fairly or not, his final Olympic impression is that of a crybaby also-ran.

U.S. women's figure skaters: Don’t look now, but they just fell again. The last gold medalist was Sarah Hughes, too long ago.

Those Chevy commercials: Someone please tell Chevrolet that real actors are better at acting than “real people.” Make them stop.


Mikaela Shiffrin: You’d think winning one gold and one silver medal would be enough to anoint someone queen of the Olympic slopes. But Shiffrin and her team had elevated expectations so high that her skiing actually came off (unfairly) as something of a disappointment.

She lost her best event (the slalom), skipped the downhill and appeared too nervous during interviews. This was not a woman enjoying herself but rather someone hoping to meet impossible, self-set goals.

Shaun White: Mr. Clutch came through on his last run, winning the halfpipe gold in dramatic fashion. But in the age of #MeToo, there is sometimes more to the story than the first headline. White was accused of harassment and verbal abuse by a former bandmate, foolishly dismissed the issue as “gossip” and then apologized for the dismissal. Add it all up, and there is a chance White may not get the sort of Olympic bump he was hoping to receive.

It’s the Olympics, Jake. You never know.


It was Plato who said, “He, O men, is the wisest, who like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing”
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