While the US Medal count might be lower than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, with the Americans in fourth overall (seriously, Norway, wow!), but America’s female athletes are carrying the load, bringing home fourteen of our twenty-one medals (including two mixed-gender team events). There have been both a few historic wins and a few shocking losses, like Mikaela Shiffrin missing the podium in her signature event, the slalom. Here’s a quick update on some of the biggest moments of the past few days for the American women.
Women’s Ice Hockey-Gold
It wasn’t a miracle on ice but it was an amazing game that ended with possibly the best Mighty Ducks-esque triple-deke of all time, courtesy of Jocelyne Lamoreaux-Davidson. Fun fact: that deke has a name, and it’s so, so good. “Oops, I did it again”. Yes, the Britney Spears song. Amazing. The penalty shootout that elevated the US Women’s Hockey team to golden status above their Canadian rivals is a terrible way for any game to end, but that’s how these things are settled.
Fair disclosure, I hate the shootout in both hockey and soccer. If I find out that there’s a penalty shootout for overtime in Quidditch, I’ll hate that, too. Sudden death, sure. Extra time, yeah. Just play the sport until someone wins. Don’t reduce the competition to a skills contest. Rant over.
In a nail biter that won’t soon be forgotten, the US Women took the gold for the first time since 1998, despite playing the Canadians for the title five of the last six Olympiads. It’s a tremendous victory for a squad that has had to fight to be on the ice in the first place. Before last year’s World Championships, the US Women’s team stood in defiance of USA Hockey, refusing to play unless their team received similar pay and benefits to those afforded the players on the men’s side. After threatening to bring in a new team for the Worlds, USA Hockey bowed to their demands and the two sides worked out a deal that pays the women’s squad appropriately for their golden efforts.
Women’s Nordic Sprint Relay-Gold
It’s a first…
Until Jessie Diggins surged late to beat the Swedes and Norway in a wildly competitive Team Sprint, the US Women had never, repeat, never taken home an Olympic medal in Nordic (Cross Country) skiing. In fact, the US teams, both men and women, have fared poorly in Nordic skiing for quite some time. The last medal of any sort was a silver on the men’s side over forty years ago. Diggins’ teammate Kikkan Randall couldn’t hold back the emotion of the moment, jumping on her collapsed teammate in celebration. Both Americans have fared well in international competitions, winning multiple championships and numerous medals, but until now, Olympic bling had eluded them all. Congrats to Randall, likely nearing the end of her career, and Diggins, who’s career is just coming into its prime, you’ve shown a whole new generation of hopefuls what is possible with hard work and dedication.
Women’s Alpine Downhill-Bronze
Lindsay Vonn is an open book
Perhaps unrealistically, given her struggles to return from injuries over the past few years, Lindsey Vonn was revved up to be a gold medal favorite coming into the PyeonChang. It looked to be a possibility, having won her last three races, but getting back to the podium after eight years was going to be a redemptive effort. Vonn ended up third, behind her Italian rival Sofia Goggia and Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel. While her golden dreams may have been dashed, Vonn reminded us what the Olympics are about. With tear-filled eyes, she spoke of her recently-deceased grandfather, her family and the youthful dreams that propelled her to becoming one of the greatest American skiers of all time. “I’m standing on the podium. And to me, I feel like I won a gold medal.” Vonn said. Sometimes, when you give your all, and you know it, it’s enough. After what will more than likely be Vonn’s final Olympic medal, she showed us the raw emotion of competition and the stark humanity of sport.
Image source: USA Today
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.