With Olympic debuts made, records broken and final bows taken, the 2018 PyeongChang Games were an emotional two weeks for athletes, their families and their supporters.
U.S. snowboard halfpipe legend Shaun White came into PyeongChang with redemption on his mind. White made his first Olympic apperance at the 2006 Torino Games and did it in style, taking home gold. He defended his title at the 2010 Vancouver Games but left the 2014 Sochi Games empty handed with a fourth place finish. White posted the highest score in the qualifying round, which meant he went last in the final. Japan's Ayumu Hirano knocked White off the top spot during the second run. White countered with an incomplete run, saving the best for last by scoring a massive 97.75 in his third and final run to take back the gold. Coming off the pipe, White had a hard time containing his emotions.
Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn was also looking for a comeback in PyeongChang. The 33-year-old missed the 2014 Sochi Games because of a torn ACL and worked her way back to Olympic competition. After a rough PyeongChang debut left Vonn with sixth place in the super-G, she came back to win bronze in the downhill. Before the Games started, Vonn said that she would win for her late grandfather. That, mixed with the fact that this Olympic medal might very well be her last, made for some strong emotions when Vonn talked to NBC after the event.
For the first time since the women's hockey tournament made its debut at the 1998 Nagano Games, the U.S. women's team won the gold-medal game. Not only did the team win gold, they did it at the expense of Canada, which had won every women's hockey gold medal since the inaugural tournament (which was won by the U.S.). After an intense shootout ended in U.S. victory, the entire team took to the ice in celebration, and those watching stateside were there in spirit.
The U.S. men's curling team also made history, not only playing in its first gold-medal game but winning the first curling gold medal in Team USA history. Skip John Shuster teared up after beating curling powerhouse Canada in the semifinals, knowing his team was headed to the final to play for gold.
After an intense sprint to the end, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall became the first U.S. women to win an Olympic medal and the first in Team USA history to win a gold medal in cross-country. Ending the medal drought left them in tears at the finish. Diggins will carry the U.S. flag in the Closing Ceremony on Sunday.
Team USA veteran Elana Meyers Taylor won her second silver medal in women's bobsled, but even after claiming her spot on the podium, late U.S. bobsledder Steve Holcomb was weighing on her mind. In an emotional interview with NBC, Meyers Taylor shared how she didn't think she could ever bobsled again without Holcomb. Holcomb's family members attended the PyeongChang Games, cheering on Team USA.
U.S. halfpipe skier David Wise celebrated his back-to-back Olympic gold with his wife and children (who wanted to pose in a podium photo with their dad).
Aljona Savchenko has been skating in the Winter Olympics for longer than some PyeongChang Olympians have been alive. Savchenko made her Olympic debut at the 2002 Salt Lake Games and won back-to-back bronze medals in 2010 and 2014. In PyeongChang with her new partner, Bruno Massot, Savchenko finally won the gold medal that had eluded her for years.
The South Korean men's hockey team was never pegged as a tournament contender, but that didn't stop them from giving their coach an Olympic-level thank you at the end of their final game.
Before PyeongChang, the Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka was best known for snowboarding. But Ledecka's skills as an Alpine skier were on full display when she surprised the world by winning the super-G. Ledecka was such a dark horse that everyone already assumed that Anna Veith of Austria had won the gold. Ledecka was left speechless at the bottom of the super-G hill and later attended the press conference wearing her ski goggles because she didn't think she had a chance at the podium and didn't bring any makeup with.
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