United States athletes make history at 2018 Winter Olympics

by Nick Archacki, staff writer

After sixteen straight days of televised competition for winter athletes all around the world last month starting on Feb. 10, the twenty-third Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea concluded with the extinguishment of the Olympic torch at the closing ceremonies. From rising stars to veterans, our United States athletes had an impressive showing at the Olympics, creating historic moments along the way.

On Feb. 11, a pair of U.S. athletes, Red Gerard and Chris Mazdzer, brought home medals in the Men’s Slopestyle Snowboarding and Men’s Singles Luge competition. Gerard, a seventeen year old snowboarder, brought home the United States first gold medal in the games and his first Winter Olympics medal. Mazdzer brought home the United States first ever medal, another gold, in Men’s Singles Luge, Mazdzer’s first ever Olympic medal as well.

Feb. 12 was another good day for the U.S. as snowboarder Jamie Anderson brought home her second consecutive gold medal in the Ladies’ Slopestyle competition, making her the first female snowboarder to win more than one Olympic gold medal. The U.S. Figure Skating Team also brought home a bronze medal on the twelfth.

Feb. 13-14 were historic days for the United States because of the performances from two U.S. athletes. On Feb. 13, Chloe Kim, a seventeen year old snowboarder, brought home gold in the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe with fellow American Arielle Gold placing third in the same competition to earn the bronze medal. With Kim’s win, she became the youngest woman ever to win an Olympic snowboarding medal.

Feb. 14 was the start of another memorable Olympic moment for Shaun White. The thirty-one year old icon, who holds the record for the most X-Games gold medals and also has the most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder, won his third Olympic gold medal in the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe competition. Not only did White complete his third run with a fantastic 97.75 score, he won the United States their one-hundredth Winter Olympics gold medal, the second ever country to accomplish that feat in the Winter Olympics.

The next five days were pretty tame for the United States, except for Feb. 15. On that day one of the most famous winter athletes in the world currently, Mikaela Shiffrin, won her second gold medal in the Ladies’ Giant Slalom competition. Shiffrin’s win tied her with Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence for the most Olympic gold medals ever won by an American Olympian in alpine skiing. There were no medals won by the U.S. on February 16 and 19, but there were still a pair of athletes who brought home medals on February 17 and 18. Pittsburgh native John-Henry Krueger brought home a silver medal for the United States in the Short Track Speed Skating competition on February 17 and on the eighteenth, Nick Goepper brought home another silver medal for the U.S. in the Men’s Ski Slopestyle competition.

Feb. 20-22 were fantastic days for U.S. athletes in figure skating, skiing, and hockey. On Feb. 20, siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani brought home a bronze medal in the Figure Skating Ice Dance competition along with Brita Sigourney bringing home another bronze for the United States in the Ladies’ Ski Halfpipe competition.

Feb. 21 was a day of rejoice for all the U.S. medalists winners and a sad one for one skiing legend, Lindsey Vonn. Vonn, age thirty-three, announced earlier in the week that this would most likely be her final Olympics in her storied career. Even though this would supposedly be Vonn’s last Olympics, she still gave her best effort even through years of injury by bringing home a bronze medal for the United States in the Ladies’ Downhill Skiing competition. Although a great career would be coming to an end, that was by far not the top headline of the day with multiple medals being won by the female U.S. athletes.

The U.S. Ladies’ Speed Skating team won a bronze medal, the U.S. Women’s Bobsleigh team came home with a silver medal, and the biggest highlight of the day was when the team of Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall brought home the United States first ever medal, a gold medal, in U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Skiing history in the Team Free Sprint competition. Diggins, who finished out the final half of the competition while Randall started the run, beat out her opponent by half a ski length to earn the United States another medal.

The concluding days at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics witnessed even more historic moments for the United States on Feb. 22 and 24 as the Americans did not win medals on Feb. 23 and 25. Feb. 22 another big day for the United States as Mikaela Shiffrin made another run at a gold medal, this time in the Ladies’ Alpine Combined competition, coming up just short earning a silver medal. David Wise won back-to-back gold medals in the Men’s Ski Halfpipe competition with U.S. teammate Alex Ferreira standing right beside him on the podium, winning the silver medal. Also, on the twenty-second, the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team won our country’s first ever gold medal in the competition, beating Canada in a penalty shootout, 3-2. Ending the day for the U.S., Jamie Anderson also brought home a silver medal in the Ladies’ Snowboard Big Air Competition.

The final medals were earned for the United States on Feb. 24 and another first time milestone was achieved for the U.S. Men’s Curling team. The team of Team Shuster brought home the United States first ever gold medal in Men’s Curling. In conclusion, the final U.S. medal was earned by snowboarder Kyle Mack in the Men’s Big Air competition and bringing the overall medal count for the United States to twenty-three. All the medals consisted of nine gold, eight silver, and eight bronze medals, the fourth best country in the Winter Olympics this year.

To end the journey for United States at the Olympics, the U.S. Paralympic Team competed in the 2018 Paralympic Winter Olympics, also in PyeongChang, from March 9-18. Our United States paralympic athletes had an impressive performance at the games, their best in sixteen years, by bringing home thirteen gold, fifthteen silver, and eight bronze medals, leading all of the countries in medals this year in the paralympic games.

The next Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China in 2022.