The Best Moments of the 2018 Winter Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics are wrapping up in PyeongChang, South Korea. After four long years of waiting, the world was treated to over two weeks of transcendent human achievement, bountiful condoms, and the splendors of multicultural collaboration and competition. In the first few days alone, we were blessed with priceless celebrity commentary, shirtless flagbearers, and perhaps the greatest teenager of all time. And there were many more memorable moments that followed.
But with 2,925 athletes representing 90 nations and a relentless stream of cursing, crashing, and knitting, there's no way to keep track of all the best highlights and moments. So we did it for you. Here's the best of the best:
Pita Taufatofua, that shirtless Tongan Olympian you fell in love with during the Rio Games, made a triumphant return at PyeongChang. It was 28-degrees. He was shirtless again. He glistened with oil. It was glorious.
Colorado snowboarder Red Gerard, 17, seems to have won the gold medal for Greatest Teenager of All Time when he overslept, lost his jacket, said "holy f*ck" on television, and won the US's first gold medal of 2018 all in one day
Adam Rippon made his Olympics debut with a stunning performance at 28
American Figure Skater Adam Rippon brought down the house with his Olympics debut performance during the team event on February 12. As NBC Olympics commentator and former skater Johnny Weir put it at the time, "He was absolutely spellbinding today... he had me quaking with emotion.”
Norway's Simen Hegstad Krueger pulled off an insane comeback
Norway's Simen Hegstad Krueger pulled off what could easily go down as one of the biggest comebacks of the PyeongChang Games on February 11. After the cross-country skier was ensnared in a crash at the opening gate, he went on to win the 30km skiathlon by a whole eight seconds.
The 'Shib Sibs' also crushed it in their team event performance
Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, or the "Shib Sibs," clinched the bronze medal for Team USA in the figure skating team event, when they finished second in the short dance competition. They became the first ice dancers of Asian descent to win an Olympic medal, according to a report by NBC Olympics. After their podium finish, Alex Shibutani reflected on their journey in a series of tweets.
"When someone tells you that you can’t do something or that your success will be limited because of how you look, or who you are, keep moving forward," he said. "Set yourself apart by finding a way to utilize your strengths. Never stop believing in yourself."
Antti Koskinen, a Finnish snowboarding coach, calmly knitted his day away on the slopes while his athlete's preparer to compete. Amid all the high-stake competition, it was calming, confusing, and endearing.
Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I'm getting hangry— Chloe Kim (@chloekimsnow) February 13, 2018
Californian Chloe Kim won our hearts by tweeting about not finishing her breakfast sandwich, then she won herself a gold medal and a place in history when she landed back-to-back 1080s.
PyeongChang's bizarre penis-men statues became the Olympics' weirdest meme
A set of huge penis-men statues were erected at the PyeongChang Olympic Village, complete with very visible penises. They're shiny, prominent, and exceedingly naked. And they've understandably turned many a head throughout the Games so far. In fact, the statues are now a viral meme in Japan and, well, lets just say there are some inspired creations floating around out there.
Shaun White's halfpipe performance earned him a third gold medal
In what will almost certainly go down as one of the most dramatic wins of the PyeongChang games, snowboarder Shaun White stunned the world with a spectacular finish during the men's halfpipe competition to win his third gold medal. He was so pumped about his first run in the competition (it earned him a 94.25 score) that he threw his helmet into the crowd before realizing he'd need it back for his next two runs. His gold medal win marked the 100th gold medal the US has earned at the Winter Olympics; however, the athlete faces resurfaced sexual misconduct allegations.
After multiple weather delays, Mikaela Shiffrin took her first gold medal at PyeongChang in the giant slalom event
While the world was more than ready to watch American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin soar down the slopes in PyeongChang, high winds delayed repeatedly delayed the giant slalom event until February 14 (US time). But all of the rescheduling appears to have little impact on Shiffrin, who overcame some jitters in her first run to win her first medal of the Games.
Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot earned the highest score ever recorded in pairs free skate
German figure skating stars, Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, stole the show on February 14 (US time) with a stunning performance in the pairs free skate event. In fact, their score -- a whopping 159.31 -- set a new Olympic record.
“That was fearless. They gave a gold medal performance," NBC Olympics Analyst and Tara Lipinski said during the event. "They said they worked their entire lives for these last four minutes. This is how you handle Olympic pressure.”
Analyst Johnny Weir weighed with a similar sentiment: "This was awe-inspiring. There were moments when she was willing him forward. There were moments when he was pulling her through this incredible journey. That’s the way to make an Olympic moment.”
A snowboarder finished a race after literally breaking his neck
Austrian Markus Schairer was in fourth place in the first quarterfinal race of the daring snowboard cross competition on February 15, when he appeared to lose control and took a frightening fall right onto his back. The impact fractured the 30-year-old's fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck and injured his elbow, and yet, Schairer got up after the fall and somehow managed to finish the race. You can safely count this as one of the most insane moments of the Games.
Thankfully, doctors said Schairer doesn't appear to have suffered nerve or permanent damage, although he left the Olympics to receive treatment in Austria.
Adam Rippon skated right into everyone's hearts again during the men's short event
Adam Rippon's second performance on Olympic ice was exactly as expected: dazzling. Although his skate wasn't as complex and difficult as that of the top skaters, his moves -- infused with his charisma -- had the stadium roaring. He ended up scoring an 87.95, putting him in the seventh position ahead of the men's free skate on February 16 (US time). Meanwhile, his teammates, Vincent Zhou and Nathan Chen finished in the no. 12 and no. 17 spots, respectively.
Before his performance, Rippon said, "I might not be the best, but I'm the most fun. I'm going to skate my heart out." After his performance, he described his excitement level as "Meryl Streep" on a scale of Reese Witherspoon to Elmo. As for explaining his success at 28, he told NBC's Andrea Joyce, "I can't explain witchcraft."
Analyst Tara Lipinski gushed: “Adam is the prince of the Olympics. He is giving it to us. Another clean skate. He is so well trained, he works so hard. He makes me jealous every day.”
As figure skating analysts had expected, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, the defending Olympic figure skating champion, absolutely destroyed the competition in the men's short event with a spectacular performance that netted him a score of 111.68. That's the second-highest Olympic score ever for the event. So, it's no surprise that his massive fan following -- he's a big celebrity in Japan -- went wild after his winning performance. They even threw a bunch of Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals at him. At one point they were raining from the stands.
Why? Well, Winnie the Pooh is more or less Hanyu's unofficial mascot. He skates with a Winnie the Pooh tissue box cover in the rink's boards as a good-luck charm, ensuring Pooh has a good view of his skate. It's been at his side for years now, and his fans love it, hence the plush bombardment.
Jamaica's first female bobsled team hit a speed bump days before its first runs were to begin, when the team's coach quit and threatened to take the team's bobsled with her after her role was altered by the Jamaica Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. The drama threatened to derail the team's ability to compete, so Jamaica's biggest beer company, Red Stripe, stepped in to save the day.
"We have been working with the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation to get the final price, but the team will have their sled," Red Stripe's Senior Marketing Manager Andrew Anguin told Thrillist at the time. "As a beer born and brewed on the same island as these athletes, we wanted to ensure they had what they needed to proudly compete and represent Jamaica."
In the end, Red Stripe purchased a new sled for the team for €42,000 or about $52,000.
For many world-class athletes, finishing dead last would be an excuse to hang their head in shame, but that wasn't the case for Mexican Olympic cross-country skier German Madrazo. Instead of feeling down about finishing the men's 15k cross-country skiing event of February 16, the 43-year-old first-time Olympian was all smiles -- beaming with joy -- when he crossed the finish line a full 26 minutes behind the leader. Best of all, in a beautiful showing of Olympics sportsmanship, the crowd roared with applause as he carried his nation's flag over the finish line. In a way, he ended up a winner after all.
"A Lannister always pays his debts," is not something you'd think you'd hear Tara Lipinski say during a figure skating competition, but that was her reaction after Germany's Paul Fentz performed his free skate program to music from Game of Thrones. The 25-year-old skater dressed like Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and even sported a gold glove on his right hand to match Lannister's golden prosthetic. The GoT music was a pretty brilliant move, if not inevitable in 2018.
Adam Rippon's emotional last skate at PyeongChang
Although nobody expected Adam Rippon to earn another medal beyond the bronze he helped win in the figure skating team event, his free skate performance was arguably one of the most -- if not the most -- anticipated of the competition. As we've all come to expect from the 28-year-old first-time Olympian, he did not disappoint when he took to the Olympic ice for one last time on February 16.
Set to music from Coldplay, Rippon captivated the audience with multiple triple jumps and spinning routines and stunning flourishes, ultimately earning an 87.47 technical score and overall score of 171.41 in the event. Sure, his lack of quads may have kept him from making the podium, but he still finished in 10th place. The crowd, of course, went wild.
“He has created a moment that is as valuable as any medal in this event," Tara Lipinski said amid the applause. "And he already has a bronze. Adam’s statement has been made. He has brought joy, he has brought hope, he has brought all that sass to figure skating. He just can’t miss.”
We can all agree that Rippon is the Olympic hero everyone needed.
“Adam Rippon is a skater to believe in," Johnny Weir said. "He is a hero for so many people. He made all of us proud.”
Nathan Chen was crowned the 'Quad King' once more
After mistake-laden performances in the team and short program competitions, American figure skater Nathan Chen took to the Olympic ice for a final time at the PyeongChang for the free skate competition and promptly blew everyone's minds. Although he had only planned on performing five quads, or quadruple jumps, the 18-year-old ended up pulling off six of the extremely difficult jumps -- more than anyone has ever done in an Olympic event. He didn't end up getting a medal for his spectacular performance, but he sure did make some history.
“This is the Nathan Chen we know," Johnny Weir said during the event. "It was almost like a little kid at the playground, just popping off these quads for fun. This is why he was a gold medal favorite coming into these Games. He is technically brilliant and so great artistically. This was about so much more than all the things he does well. This performance was about who he is as a person, and the strength of character he has."
Figure skating's world champion defended his title
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, arguably one the greatest male figure skaters of all time, defended his title with a huge gold medal win in the men's free skate competition. In fact, Hanyu earned the second-highest score in the competition of all time with a 111.68. Not only was this a historic moment for men's figure skating, but it also marked the 1,000th medal event in Winter Olympics history. As expected, Hanyu's many fans in the stadium bombarded him with Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals.
Johnny Weir weighed in on the spectacular feat, saying, "Yuzuru Hanyu in the short program was like liquid silk."
Didn't realize this moment was being filmed yesterday but I'm so happy that it was. My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love. pic.twitter.com/8t0zHjgDg8— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 19, 2018
Gus Kenworthy's Olympic kiss
American skier Gus Kenworthy, one of two openly gay athletes on Team USA (Adam Rippon is the other), is at the PyeongChang Games with is boyfriend, actor Matt Wilkas. While openly gay athletes at the Olympics is an important feat for LGBT visibility in itself, Kenworthy broke another barrier before competing in the slopestyle event: he and Wilkas kissed on NBC's live broadcast of the Games. The couple didn't know they were on live TV at the time, but Kenworthy later said he was happy that his gay kiss could be seen around the world, because "love is love."
"To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible," Kenworthy said. "The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That's definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would've made it easier for me."
Unfortunately, after winning silver at the 2014 Sochi Games, Kenworthy was unable to medal in PyeongChang.
When Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka, a snowboarder, strapped on some skis she borrowed from Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin for the women's Super-G competition, she wasn't necessarily aiming for first place and Olympic glory. With that said, it's no wonder why she -- and everyone else present at the event, for that matter -- simply couldn't believe her near-flawless run. As the broadcast commentators incredulously remarked about Olympics history unfolding before their eyes, Ledecka swooped across the finish to clinch the gold medal by just one hundredth of a second. The look of pure shock on her face upon learning of the result is, well, priceless.
The German bobsled team's insanely sideways finish
During the opening runs for two-man bobsled, the German duo of Christian Poser and pilot Nico Walther went all out to take the lead in their second run. But they nearly fell out when they ended the run in a high-speed crash that saw them rocket across the finish line with the sled on its side. Sleds on the track were regularly clocked at over 86mph, and thankfully, neither of the bobsledders were injured.
Better yet, the Germans somehow managed to finish the first day in gold medal position despite crashing their way across the finish line.
Although Elizabeth Swaney is not a professional skier, she competed in the women's freestyle halfpipe competition for Hungary on February 19. It's probably one of the most bizarre Olympics performances you'll ever see.
Swaney, a 33-year-old from California, didn't perform any major tricks as she zoomed down the halfpipe. Basically, the most impressive thing about her performance is that she didn't fall. She finished in last place out of 24 skiers, and told the Associated Press she was disappointed about not advancing to the finals.
An Olympian's husband double-fisting some breakfast beers
While Canadian curler Rachel Homan was busy kicking ass in a match against Japan, her husband, Shawn Germain, was in the stands bright and early to support his wife. Germain dealt with the high-stakes competition as any reasonable spouse would: by double-fisting beers at 9am.
Lindsey Vonn's emotional interview after her last Olympic downhill race
American skiing star Lindsey Vonn gave an emotional interview from the slopes just moments after the last Olympic downhill race of her career. Although it was unclear at that point if she had secured a medal in the event, Vonn talked about her comeback at the Olympics and earning a medal in PyeongChang to make her grandfather, who died late last year, proud of her.
"I wish I could keep going," she said. "My body probably just can't take another four years."
Vonn landed behind Italy's Sofia Goggia and Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel to earn the bronze medal.
Team USA earned a cross-country skiing medal for the first time in 42 years
Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall not only ended the US’s more than four decade-long Olympic cross-country skiing medal drought, but also became the first American cross-country skiers to earn a gold medal in the competition. They ended up finishing ahead of Sweden and Norway, which took away the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Czech Republic beat the US's men's hockey team 3-2 in overtime during a playoffs qualification match, but it looks like at least one American walked away from the game a winner. While the moment may have happened too fast to notice it in real time during the game, slow-motion footage (shown above) reveals a fan making a spectacular one-handed catch after a player lobbed the puck off the ice. Even better, he turns around to face the crowd and soak up his minute or two of glorious Olympics fame.
Matt Hamilton's mustache
American Olympic curler Matt Hamilton's mustache is a bit of a breakout star at the PyeongChang Games. As curling has grown in popularity over the course of the Olympics, so has Hamilton's well-manicured cookie duster. It even has its own Twitter account. In the lead-up to the team's semifinal match against Canada (which they won), Hamilton's teammate Chris Plys launched the Hamilton Mustache Militia, encouraging fans to sport mustaches in support of the team.
The U.S. women's hockey team's stunning, historic victory
In a game that will likely be talked about for years to come, the American women's hockey team defeated Canada, the reigning Olympic champions, in an intense shoutout with a final score of 3-2. The victory marks the first time Team USA has taken the gold medal in the high-profile event in 20 years; specifically, since the 1998 Nagano Games. At the same time, the historic match marks the end of the Canadian team's streak of gold medals at the last four Winter Games.
"It’s unbelievable," Kendall Coyne said after the game, per a report by NBC Olympics. "A lot of us are here because of the ‘98 team. We were inspired by their victory. So hopefully there’s a ton of girls that pick up hockey in the United States and all over the world. This was a tremendous win, and the future generations are really going to soar from it as well."
David Wise's insane halfpipe win
American skier David Wise, the defending Olympic champion in the halfpipe event, lost a ski in his first two runs of the men's halfpipe final. His third run, however, was absolutely spectacular. In an insane comeback, he landed double corks in four different directions for a score of 97.20, which was enough to clinch the gold medal. His teammate, Alex Ferreira, also made the podium and took home silver for Team USA.
Scott Moir's intense hockey fandom
Canadian ice dancer Scott Moir attended the highly anticipated women's ice hockey gold medal match to watch Canada face off against Team USA. The game was a nail-biter and the Americans pulled off a pretty stunning victory in the end to win gold, but the action on the sidelines ended up being pretty entertaining, too, as Moir -- beer in hand -- yelled at the refs for being soft on calls against Team USA. Naturally, his reaction became an instant meme.
This tutu-clad streaker and his monkey penis pouch
Following the Men's 1,000 meter speed skating program in the final days of the Olympics, a long-haired middle-aged man jumped over a barricade and stripped off his clothes (save for a pink tutu and a monkey penis pouch), then performed a wacky little routine before falling and flailing around. He continued to dance around out there for "several minutes," per a report by TMZ, before eventually leaving (though it's unclear whether he was physically removed or left on his own). Fortunately, at least one person was able to capture a bit of it on Instagram.
Ledecka did it again
After her shocking victory in the women's skiing Super-G competition, snowboarder Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic became the first woman to win gold medals in two different sports in the same Winter Olympics with a spectacular finish in the women's parallel giant slalom event. Her first gold may have been a big surprise for everyone (including herself), but her second gold was all but expected, considering snowboarding is her primary sport.
People all around the world know the Olympics are unfolding in PyeongChang, but it remains to be seen if the local squirrels have gotten the message. One daring squirrel almost spoiled Austrian snowboarder Daniela Ulbing's run in the women's parallel giant slalom. It ran onto the course, unaware of the stakes, and managed to interlope on the biggest sporting event of the year.
The 'Miracurl on Ice'
The US has never been a curling powerhouse. To the contrary, Team USA has usually been on the outside looking in when it comes to strangest sport at the Winter Olympics. That all changed rather improbably, when the Americans beat Sweden 10-7 en route to a shocking gold medal win.
The win came after a days-long effort by Team USA to dig itself out of a big hole after losing four of its initial six games. To reach the finals, the team had to defeat pre-tournament favorite Canada twice -- once early in the tournament and again in the semifinals -- and also see off powerhouse teams Great Britain and Switzerland.
John Shuster, who led the comeback, told NBC Olympics, "It was fun to go out there and be the team and the player that got us here and that we've worked so hard to be."
The pure chaos of mass start speed skating
Organizers of the PyeongChang Games seem to have saved the best speed skating event of the Winter Olympics for last. Mass start speed skating, which has been described as chaotic, exciting, and even the "NASCAR on ice," made its Olympics debut with a bang. While most people didn't know what to expect from the new event, the races delivered on the expectation that they'd be thrilling... and a tad chaotic. As you can see, the races involved an ice track crowded with multiple skaters. They were easily among the most exciting competitions to watch at the Games.
Check back during the games for all of Thrillist’s continuing Olympics coverage. Think of us like an all-knowing friend watching along with you to answer all the important questions, like how heavy are Olympic medals. We'll explain everything from curling rules and figure skating scoring to what OAR means, why winning athletes are receiving stuffed animals and much, much more.