Greason: America’s Olympic performance is better than appears
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, February 23, 2018
While it seems my fellow columnists have not taken the opportunity that only arises for two weeks every other year to write about the Olympics and have instead chosen to focus their attention, for the most part, on the Cleveland Cavaliers, I’ve had NBC and NBC Sports running in the background of my life nonstop, watching various obscure snow sports and taking advantage of these two weeks.
Let’s be honest. The United States has not lived up to many peoples’ expectations so far during these Olympic Games. With only two-thirds of the medals that medal-count-leader Norway has, America seems to be dragging behind. But honestly, that’s OK. Because the medal moments the United States has accumulated so far have been so incredible, so breathtaking, so tear-jerking, that I don’t really care what the final medal count is. Yes, of course I want my country to win every event, but if that isn’t going to happen, I want to at least be able to appreciate the wins and the winning moments that have gone into the Games so far.
Women’s hockey defeats Canada in gold-medal rematch
We can start with the big one. Canada took down the U.S. in the gold-medal game four years ago, and the Americans have been waiting exactly that long for a rematch and for a chance to hang those gold medals around their necks. And they did it. The game went to overtime. And then a shootout. Goaltender Maddie Rooney led the Americans to victory in a 3-2 shootout for their first gold medal since 1998.
Lindsey Vonn earns bronze in (probably) her final Olympic downhill race
How can you root against Lindsey Vonn? One of the first columns I ever wrote was about how Vonn is, in my mind, the world’s best athlete. And that was before half of her injuries. So for her to come back, eight years after her first Olympic medal, is even more impressive. She may not have taken home gold as many were hoping, but finishing in the top three in the world’s most prestigious competition isn’t half bad.
U.S. earns first-ever women’s cross country medal
The United States hadn’t won a cross country medal of any sort since 1976, and the women’s team had never medaled. That is until Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall took the reins in the team-sprint freestyle race in a remarkably close finish. And not only did they medal, but they finished in the gold-medal position. Randall, who is 35 and the only mother on Team USA in Pyeongchang, finally won a medal on her 18th attempt.
Mirai Nigasu becomes first U.S. woman to land triple axel at Olympics
Three American women have landed triple axels in competition — Kimmie Meissner, Tonya Harding and Mirai Nigasu. And Nigasu just became the first American to land one at the Olympics, as she did during the long-program portion of the team competition in Pyeongchang, helping the Americans to a bronze medal in the event.
Jamie Anderson wins inaugural big-air snowboarding medal
Slopestyle specialist Jamie Anderson — who repeated her goal medal from Sochi in Pyeongchang in that event as well — expanded her repertoire to include the Games’ newest event: big-air snowboarding. Anderson found herself leading for most of the finals of the event, until she was knocked to the second step on the podium by the final competitor in Anna Gasser of Austria. However, Anderson’s silver medal in the event’s first appearance in the Olympics can only bode well for things to come for Team USA.
Mikaela Shiffrin medals. Twice.
The young phenom was expected to take the gold in the slalom, a repeat of her win in Sochi. She didn’t. She finished just off the podium. And yet, she’s got two medals as we speak. How did that happen? Shiffrin took gold in the giant slalom the night before her slalom race and then showed up Vonn in the alpine combined, finishing in the silver slot (even more impressive because Shiffrin only has one downhill World Cup win in her career).
And these are just some of the big moments from the last few days. There’s Shaun White, Chloe Kim and Red Gerard. There’s the speed skaters. There’s the bobsledders.
While many may just look at the medal count and say these Olympics have been lackluster for the U.S., I say the opposite. Look at the records that have been broken. Look at the moments these athletes have shared and the history they have made. They may not have every win in the book, but they certainly have a number of medals that matter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.