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A golden start
Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the Games, and thus the U.S.' first gold, in the first-ever snowboard slopestyle event. It's the fourth time in Winter Olympics history and the first time since 1952 that the U.S. has won the first gold medal of the Games. Eschewing the triple cork, Kotsenburg won with style, flair and a new trick, the backside 1620 Japan, that he had never done before and only decided to throw minutes before his run after talking to his brother.
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Your new Olympic meme
Move over, McKayla. U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner didn't bother hiding her disgust at her short program score of 63.10 in the new team event, visibly snipping "bullsh--" to her coach. But like Maroney, she has a good sense of humor about it.
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Figure skating's new sensation
Pint-sized 15-year-old Russian Julia Lipnitskaya brought the house down with her stunning short and long programs in the figure skating team event. She topped the leader board in both, helping the home team win the inaugural gold. The spin queen is the youngest figure skating gold medalist in 78 years.
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Age is just a number
Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won the 10-kilometer sprint for his seventh gold and 12th medal overall, tying the record for most Winter Olympic medals held by his countryman, cross-country skier Bjoern Daehlie. At 40, Bjoerndalen is also the oldest Winter Olympic champion in an individual event.
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Super Jules surprises again
The bigger the stage, the better Julia Mancuso skies. For the third straight Olympics, Mancuso won a surprising medal — a bronze in the super combined to go with a gold from Torino and two silvers from Vancouver — despite poor pre-Games showings. (She has not won a World Cup event in almost two years.) The medal extended Mancuso's record as the most decorated female alpine skier in U.S. history (no other American female skier has more than two), and she joins Bonnie Blair and Apolo Anton Ohno as the only Americans to medal in three consecutive Winter Games.
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Timing error takes away gold
Well, this is awkward. Dutch speed skater Jan Smeekens celebrated wildly when he thought he won gold in the 500 meters after his unofficial time was placed on top of the leader board. But the time was soon adjusted to a cruel one-hundredth of a second behind compatriot Michel Mulder's time, and he had to settle for silver ahead of Mulder's twin brother Ronald. At least the gold is staying in the same country?
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Best Olympic spirit
In one of the most heartwarming moments, Canadian cross-country coach Justin Wadsworth came to Russian Anton Gafarov's rescue after his ski broke during the sprint semi. With the ski in pieces and wrapped around his leg, Gafarov was dragging himself down the course until Wadsworth ran out with a new ski for him. "I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line," he said afterward.
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Long time coming in luge
Germany's domination of the luge — it swept golf in all four events in Sochi — leaves few medals for the rest of the world. The U.S. had never won an individual medal in luge, which has been an Olympic sport since 1964, until Erin Hamlin scored a bronze in the women's singles.
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No three-peat, Part 1
Chasing the first three-peat by an American man in the Winter Olympics, Shaun White came up short in the halfpipe. As in off the podium in fourth place. White uncharacteristically fell twice in his first run and his sketchy second run was not up to snuff compared to that of Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov, aka I-Pod, who stomped his signature trick, the cab double cork 1440, which he's dubbed the YOLO flip. It wasn't just White's reign that ended: No American man made the halfpipe podium for the first time since snowboarding became an Olympic sport in Nagano (the U.S. also swept the podium in 2002.)
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No three-peat, Part 2
A day after Shaun White faltered in his three-peat bid, Shani Davis also failed to become the first American man to win three Winter golds. The speed skater finished the 1,000 meters in a disappointing eighth place with a time of 1:09.12. In his two Olympic victories, Davis was the only skater under 1:09.
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A historic tie
How close was the women's downhill? So close that it resulted in the first-ever tie in the event. Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin both crossed the line in 1:41.57. Swiss Lara Gut earned bronze in 1:41.67.
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Plushenko withdraws, retires
As expected, Evgeni Plushenko took his final bow in Sochi. What wasn't expected was the way it happened: The 2006 champ solemnly skated off before a stunned home crowd after he withdrew before his short skate because he tweaked his back in warm-up. (He has undergone two spinal surgeries in recent years.) Had he competed and medaled in the men's event, he would've become the most decorated figure skater in Olympic history with five medals.
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Jeremy Abbott falls and rises again
Sometimes it's not about a medal. After falling twice during the team event, Jeremy Abbott, who has choked on the big stages, crashed into the pads on his opening quad in his short skate. The four-time U.S. champ laid there for seemingly an eternity before, spurred on by the crowd, he got up and nailed the rest of his routine with heretofore unseen determination and conviction. Ironically, he was one of the few to skate a clean long program and finished 12th in his final Olympics.
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U.S. goes 1-2-3 in ski slopestyle
Break out the brooms! Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy (he of puppy-saving fame) and Nick Goepper swept the ski slopestyle podium in the event's Olympic debut. This is the third time the U.S. has swept a Winter podium after men's figure skating in 1956 and men's snowboard halfpipe in 2002.
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Noelle Pikus-Pace finally wins her Olympic medal
Skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace's long Olympic journey ended in silver that she says is as good as gold. The American was the favorite for Torino but missed the Games after a bobsled crashed into her and broke her right leg. She missed out on a medal in Vancouver by 0.10 and retired, but returned in 2012 for one last go at the Olympics.
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Yuzuru Hanyu does enough to win gold
The men's figure skating event was inexplicably riddled with falls and mistakes, but it made for high drama. After setting a world record score in the short skate, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu stumbled twice in the free skate, seemingly leaving the door open for Canada's three-time reigning world champ Patrick Chan. But instead of rising to the moment, Chan, who was aiming to be Canada's first men's figure skating Olympic champ, also faltered and finished second. Instead, Hanyu is Japan's first men's figure skating Olympic gold medalist and, at 19, the youngest champ since Dick Button won at 18.
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U.S. defeats Russia in shootout
Do you believe in shootouts? The U.S. edged out Russia in a thrilling game that came down to an eight-round shootout, highlighted by T.J. Oshie's four clutch goals. Unfortunately, the magic would not continue for the U.S., which failed to score a goal against Canada in the semifinal and against Finland in the bronze medal game after notching 20 goals in its first four games.
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Bode Miller's breakdown
Bode Miller's post-super G interview took a turn for the super awkward and exploitive when Christin Cooper continued to press a visibly emotional Miller — who had just become the oldest Alpine Olympic medalist ever by tying for bronze — about racing for his late brother Chilly. He fully broke down and sobbed on the fence, as the camera lingered on him, after she asked what was going through his mind when he looks to the sky in the start. Miller has defended Cooper, but the onus is on NBC for airing the tape-delayed interview in the first place.
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Ice dancing dominance
Meryl Davis and Charlie White became the first American team to win ice dancing in Olympic history after delivering two near-flawless programs. The duo broke their own world records for the short dance, free dance and total combined scores, and have not lost a competition in 22 months, leaving no doubt as to who's the best in the world right now.
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Lindsey Jacobellis falls again
The Olympics are officially a snake-bitten event for Jacobellis. Eight years after an ill-conceived method grab cost her a gold and four years after crashing through a gate, the eight-time Winter X Games champ was cruising in her snowboard cross semifinal when she caught a bad line on a landing and fell. Again. Can she make it happen in 2018?
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Ted Ligety skis into history
Believe it or not, no American male Alpine skier had ever won more than one Olympic gold medal coming into Sochi. Ted Ligety changed all that, dominating his signature event, the giant slalom, from the start. He's only the second American Alpine skier to win two Olympic golds, after Andrea Mead Lawrence, and is the first American man to win the giant slalom.
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Canada's golden comeback
Leading 2-0, the U.S. women's hockey team was three minutes from its second gold medal and its first Olympic win over nemesis Canada since 1998. Perhaps feeling the moment, they started playing tentatively while Canada mounted a comeback. They leveled the game with 55 seconds left to send it to overtime, where they handed the U.S. arguably its most heartbreaking loss to date. Their win — their fourth straight gold — wouldn't have been possible, of course, had their goalpost not deflected a U.S. shot on an empty net by mere millimeters.
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Lauryn Williams is in elite company
Lauryn Williams, who won a silver in Athens and gold in London in track, grabbed a silver in bobsled to become the fifth person to medal in both a Summer and Winter Olympics. Had she won gold, she would've been just the second person to win gold at both Games.
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Adelina Sotnikova upsets Yuna Kim
It wasn't 15-year-old breakout Yulia Lipnitskaya who challenged reigning champ Yuna Kim for figure skating gold, but it was another Russian teen. Adelina Sotnikova, 17, surprisingly won by more than five points, becoming Russia's first ladies figure skating Olympic champ ever. The upset, however, has stirred questions about whether Sotnikova's scores were inflated on home ice, as one judge is the wife of the general director of the Russian figure skating federation and another was suspended for a fixing scandal in Nagano.
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Lucky No. 13
More than a week after tying the all-time medal record, Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time after winning his 13th medal, fittingly a gold (his eighth), in the biathlon mixed relay. He had a chance to extend that record to 14 and hold the solo record for the most golds in the 4x7.5-kilometer relay, but Norway faltered at the end.
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Sarah Burke's heartfelt tribute
On the night of the women's ski halfpipe Olympic debut, crew members paid tribute to the pioneer who fought to bring the sport to the Games. Skiing down the pipe, the workers formed a massive heart in honor of Sarah Burke, the Canadian champ who died in 2012 in a training accident, a year after ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle were voted in. Burke's ashes were also spread in the halfpipe and in the Rosa Khutor mountains.
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U.S. speed skating fail
The U.S. speed skating team had an Olympics to forget, not winning any medal for the third time in history after both the men and women failed to advance out of the team pursuit quarterfinals. (The short track team won one, a silver.) The disastrous performance also punctuated the likely final Olympics of Shani Davis' career on a low note after he came in with high expectations of a three-peat in the 1,000 meters. On the other side of the spectrum, the Dutch thoroughly destroyed everyone, winning 23 of the 36 available medals. All 24 of the Netherlands' medals in Sochi came in speed skating, with the other one in short track.
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Mikaela Shiffrin has arrived
The overwhelming favorite to in the slalom, 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin showed poise and composure in snagging gold. She is the youngest slalom champ ever and the first American woman to win it since 1972. The skiing prodigy, who finished fifth in the giant slalom, has already announced her stunning goal for Pyeongchang: win all five Alpine disciplines.
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V is for Viktor-y
Wonder how South Korea feels now. Viktor Ahn, who won three golds and one bronze in Torino for South Korea, earned the same collection in Sochi, but this time for Russia, where he moved in 2011 because of lack of support from his native country. His eight career medals ties Apolo Anton Ohno for the most short track medals and his 500-meter win made Ahn the first person to have won every short track distance in Olympic history. Ahn also gave Russia its first short track medals ever, while South Korea's men's team failed to medal.
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Canada defends men's hockey gold
Defense wins championships, right? Canada struggled offensively in Sochi, but scored when it mattered, and its defense came up big, allowing only three goals in six games, including shutting out the U.S. and Sweden in the semifinal and final, respectively. The gold is Canada's first outside of North America since 1952, the last time it defended its title.