The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are over, but they won’t be forgotten, thanks to some great memories. If you’re an American, you had to be proud of the U.S. curling team’s incredible “Miracurl on Ice” gold medal win — even if you frankly do not understand the sport. Hail to Ester Ledecka, who won a gold in not only her sport, snowboarding, but the Super-G skiing event as well. Here are some other, stranger memories that we won’t soon forget from these games.
10. Spectator Crashes Main Stage in Opening Ceremony … Twice
It goes without saying that security at Olympic venues is extreme, given the potential for a bad element to create a tragic international incident. Yet somehow, a spectator crashed the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, walking right onto the main stage during a performance. If that’s not bad enough, he crashed the stage again later in the ceremony.
9. Russian Wearing ‘No Doping’ Shirt Gets Busted … For Doping
One of the biggest sports stories in recent months was the International Olympic Committee’s crackdown on Russia for its alleged systematic cover up of performance-enhancing drug use by its athletes. The IOC originally banned the entire Russian team, but eventually agreed to let 168 athletes who had not tested positive for PEDs compete under the independent “Olympic Athletes from Russia” banner. One of those athletes, bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, had appeared in a YouTube video wearing a shirt with the words, “I don’t do doping.” You can probably guess what happened next — Sergeeva tested positive for a banned substance during the Games, becoming the second OAR athlete caught doping at Pyeongchang.
8. Gold Medal Hockey Team Sings Banned National Anthem
Those Olympic Athletes from Russia competitors faced several restrictions in Pyeongchang. They were not allowed to carry the Russian flag during ceremonies, and gold medal winners would not hear the Russian anthem; instead, the Olympic anthem would be played. But after the OAR team defeated Germany to win the gold medal in men’s hockey, team members stood at attention for the anthem — only when the song began, team members defiantly sang the Russian anthem. Russian fans in the audience joined in.
7. North Korea Makes Presence Felt in Bizarre Ways
Although these Olympics were in South Korea, its neighbors from the north made their presence felt. And we’re not just talking about the Kim Jong Un impersonator who appeared now and then (he turned out to be an Australian who identified himself only as “Howard. Really). While the real Jong Un didn’t attend, he sent his sister in his place. Kim Yo Jong became the first leader of North Korea’s ruling family to visit South Korea since the end of the Korean War. After CNN.com published a lengthy, generally positive feature on Kim, critics pointed out she was the North Korean equivalent of Adolf Hitler’s Joseph Goebbels.
Then we had the mysterious North Korean cheerleaders, who showed up to ardently cheer on the unified Korean Olympic team. Everyone had questions: Just who were these young women? How were they chosen? Unfortunately, the answers weren’t pleasant. Bloomberg News reported the girls were used as sex slaves brought in to service North Korean regime members in Pyeongchang.
6. U.S. Men’s Curling Winners Get Women’s Gold Medals
The U.S. men’s curling team scored an epic upset in the Games, winning the gold medal by defeating heavily favored Sweden. The team even had the perfect slogan for the win, the “Mircurl on Ice,” a clever ode to the 1980 U.S men’s hockey team’s so-called “Miracle on Ice.” In a strange coda to their gold medal win, curling team members checked their medals after the ceremony, only to discover they said, “Women’s Curling Gold Medal.” The curlers laughed off the incident and were quickly given the correct medals.
5. Norwegian Skier Wins Medal, Mustache Gets All the Glory
Few Americans had ever heard of Norwegian ski jumper Robert Johansson before the Games, but they know him now, not because of his bronze medal in the men’s normal hill individual event, or his gold in the team event … but because of his mustache. Yes, social media went crazy over Johansson’s handlebar ’stache, and reporters in Pyeongchang fed the frenzy, doing stories and features on his facial hair. The topic even came up right after his first career medal run. “How did the mustache feel in the air,” an NBC reporter asked. “It feels fantastic,” Johansson said.
“I started two years ago saving for a beard,” Johansson told reporters. “After a while it got quite long so I decided to see if it was able to make a mustache, and it was, and after this, long story short, I was getting a bit of attention and thought it was fun, and then (it) kind of took off.” Even Johansson couldn’t have imagined the notoriety his mustache would get in the Games.
4. Skier’s Mediocre Run Goes Viral, Sparks Calls for Change
Skier Elizabeth Swaney, a U.S. native by birth, competed for Hungary in the Olympics, and for good reason — she would have had no chance to make the U.S. team. Swaney qualified for the games by merely competing in the requisite number of ski events around the world, and basically not finishing last. But when it came time for her Olympic halfpipe run, she did little more than skate up the pipe and do simple 180-degree turns, providing one of the most viral moments of the games. Hey, you can’t blame Sweeney for taking advantage of the system. However, ski officials said afterward they are looking into changing the system to prevent a repeat.
3. Shirtless Tongan Makes Well-Oiled Return
Pita Taufatofua became a viral sensation in the 2016 Summer Olympics when the Tongan flag bearer entered the opening ceremony in Rio with a bare and oiled chest. Taufatofua, who competed in taekwondo in those Summer Games, was back in Pyeongchang, this time as a cross-country skier. While he didn’t do so well — finishing 114th out of 119 competitors — he flashed his bare chest once again in the closing ceremony and stole the show, even posing for photos with the IOC President Thomas Bach and many U.S. stars.
2. French Ice Dancer Suffers Wardrobe Malfunction
We all understand the meaning of the euphemism “wardrobe malfunction” (thanks Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson). Unfortunately for French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis, her malfunction occurred during competition in the mixed ice dance program. As partner Guillaume Cizeron raised his arms, he inadvertently unclipped the back of Papadakis’ dress. Papadakis tried in vain to pull up her top and keep her chest covered as the pair finished their routine. It gets worse: the Olympic Broadcasting Service provided a slow-motion replay of the incident to more than 100 countries around the world. If it’s any consolation, the French pair weren’t alone — South Korean skater Yura Min also had a wardrobe issue.
1. U.S. Snowboarder Wins Gold, Family Wins Olympics in Partying
Snowboarder Red Gerard burst onto the scene when he won America’s first gold medal of the games, in the snow slopestyle event. The 17-year-old Colorado native was so excited right after his win he dropped an F-bomb expletive that somehow got past the tape delay. But if Gerard was excited, you should have seen his family and friends. His group of 18 supporters partied hard throughout the Olympics, proudly boasting a motto, “Get Gerarded,” borrowed from a relative’s heavy-drinking college days. They were even celebrating on the way to Gerard’s gold-medal event. “I’m pretty sure I saw a video of them shot-gunning beers at 8:30 a.m., so I’m pretty sure they are doing just fine,” Gerard said.