KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — See you in Pyeongchang. Now that the 2014 Winter Olympics have come to a close, the IOC moves its focus to the next cold-weather spectacle in South Korea in 2018. During these two weeks in Russia, we've seen a number of storylines that will likely continue into those Games (Mikaela Shiffrin, the U.S.-Canada hockey rivalry). Some storylines represent the end of an era (Bode Miller) and ones that will remain unique to this very memorable host (#sochiproblems).
As we head out of Sochi and return to our usual scheduled programming of NCAA March Madness, NBA and NHL regular season games and MLB spring training, let's take a final look at the 14 moments that we'll remember most from the 2014 Winter Olympics
The four Olympic rings (and an asterisk)
After months of reports questioning Russia's readiness to host the Games the host spent $50 billion to produce, the country was determined to make a bold statement during the opening ceremony at Fisht Stadium.
Then the fifth Olympic ring failed to show up.
Five giant illuminated snowflakes were supposed to morph into the Olympic rings, but the final one failed to make that transition, leading to one of the most visible early #sochiproblems. (That's the Twitter hashtag used throughout the Games if you haven't been paying attention.)
The mishap was just one small part of an otherwise well-executed welcome to the Games. In addition to the parade of nations, the three-hour ceremony featured a ballet rendition of War and Peace, glow in the dark dancers spinning to Swan Lake, a program saluting Russian history and yes, president Vladimir Putin's rumored girlfriend as one of the torchbearers.
Olympians adopting lots of stray puppies
U.S. slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is bringing home more than his silver medal from Sochi. The 22-year-old Colorado resident scored a 10 from adoring fans stateside when he announced his plan to adopt five stray dogs found at the Gorki Press Center in the mountain cluster. Kenworthy posted a photo of himself cuddling with one of the two puppies he'll keep, while his mother and brothers will each keep one of the other dogs.
Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis took one back to the U.S. with her and hockey player David Backes and his wife were also working behind the scenes to find American homes for other rescued pups.
Unlike Kenworthy, luger Kate Hansen didn't bring her Sochi stray back to the States with her. It didn't exist. The wolf she reportedly filmed roaming the halls of her hotel room was part of a hoax she collaborated on with late night host Jimmy Kimmel. USA Luge officials, who condemned the prank in a statement, didn't find it quite as funny.
Abbott does his best Tupac impersonation
Johnny Cash, Tupac Shakur, Johnny Rotten. Jeremy Abbott? The 28-year-old figure skater did his best to channel those anti-authoritarian figures when addressing the media following his final Olympic performance, where he finished 12th in the free skate the night after a spectacular crash in the short program. Asked about his propensity to come up short at big international events, Abbott let it fly.
"You know I just want to put my middle finger in the air and say a big, 'F-U,' to everyone who's ever said that to me. Because they've never stood in my shoes, and they've never had to do what I had to do. Nobody has to stand center ice in front of a million people and put an entire career on the line for eight minutes of their life when they've been doing it for 20 some years. And if you think that's not hard then you're a damn idiot."
The awesomeness of the Dufour-Lapointe family
It's an amazing feat to win an Olympic medal. It's even more incredible when two siblings can place first and second in their event. That's what happened to the Dufour-Lapointe sisters of Montreal, as Justine, 19, and Chloe, 22, stood atop the podium holding hands after winning gold and silver respectively in the women's moguls. Older sister Maxime placed 12th.
It got a little misty in the spectator area at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park – and not from the spraying powder – when the trio's mom, Johane Dufour, and dad, Yves Lapointe, realized that their two youngest daughters had become Olympic medalists.
"I'm so happy for my three daughters, all three Olympians, two medals at home. Incredible. I'm so anxious to grab and kiss them. I haven't had a chance the last three weeks, so bring me my babies!" Dufour exclaimed.
American-born snowboarder wins gold medal for Russia, right after his wife won bronze
Washington native Vic Wild says he wasn't getting the financial and logistical support he needed from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to continue in the sport, so the alpine snowboarder became a Russian citizen after marrying fellow snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in 2011. Wild's decision paid off, as he won the men's parallel giant slalom just moments after Zavarzina took bronze in the women's event.
The most poignant part? One of Wild's best friends and former U.S. teammates cheering him on as he did it. Justin Reiter, the only U.S. competitor in the event,
heering him on as he did it. Justin Reiter, the only U.S. competitor in the event, has had to live out of his truck at times to finance his participation in the sport.
"This is a kid that sacrificed everything to get what he wanted," Reiter said. "He has the support of a country behind him, and he never stopped working. A lot of people would get that foundation they need to support their dreams and then back off, with Vic it just made him hungrier, made him work harder and be more persistent. He had so much pressure coming into these Games, because he's an investment for this country. He had to perform, and now he's the Olympic champion."
After winning the parallel slalom event Saturday, he's a two-time Olympic champion.
Bode Miller lets it all out
It was one of the most emotional interviews of the entire Olympics. And it came from a most unlikely subject. U.S. skier Bode Miller's tearful conversation with NBC's Christin Cooper mixed the pain of losing his brother and joy of becoming the oldest medalist in alpine skiing history into a maelstrom of feeling, as it seemed both the interviewer and interviewee were caught off guard by his reaction.
NBC was accused in some circles of trying to manipulate Miller's emotions with Cooper's questioning, but the 36-year-old skier went out of his way the next morning to defend her on Twitter. It was difficult to watch but ultimately captured a reflective moment from one of the most enigmatic personalities in his sport.
The sartorial stylings of Weir
NBC must have paid a ton in extra luggage fees to bring all of the figure skating analyst's potential wardrobe choices to Sochi. The 29-year-old Olympian's nightly outfits varied from a hot pink blazer to a vintage Valentino green blazer, included multiple headbands, a traditional Ukrainian braid to honor those killed in recent violence in Kiev and even a leather suit one night.
Between Weir and broadcasting partner Tara Lipinski, they brought 8 suitcases, 22 pairs of shoes, 20 pounds of shoes, four fur coats (Weir's) and more. It was well worth it.
Oshie singlehandledly beats Russia
He wasn't all that well known outside of devoted NHL fans before the Olympics, but the St. Louis Blues winger became a household name after he went 4-for-6 in the shootout to lead the U.S. men's hockey team to a victory against Russia. Oshie gained 130,000 Twitter followers in the hours after the game, received a tweet from President Obama and did interviews with a number of national outlets the day after.
Norwegian biathlete nearly becomes Sochi's Leon Lett
Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen nearly lost his gold medal in the men's mass start 15K when he raised his hands to celebrate a few seconds before crossing the finish line, despite having France's Martin Fourcade right behind him. The slight hesitation to celebrate forced a photo finish in which it was determined that Svendsen barely held on.
Svendsen, who won two golds in Vancouver, ended up duplicating that task as the anchor on Norway's mixed relay team the following night. With a 32-second margin of victory, he could have stopped five feet before the finish and fired a round of celebratory shots into the air before crossing.
41-year-old ski jumper wins first Olympic medal since 1994
The first time Japan's Noriaki Kasai won a silver medal at the winter Olympics, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was the top movie in the U.S., Celine Dion's The Power of Love was the No. 1 song and Chris Webber was on his way to winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award with the Golden State Warriors. Now 20 years after getting that hardware in the team large hill event at the Lillehammer Games, Kasai, 41, was just 1.3 points shy of beating Poland's Kamil Stoch in the individual large hill competition, which would have made him the oldest gold medalist in Winter Games history.
Kasai took silver in the individual large hill and bronze in the team event. He said he plans to come back for his eighth Olympics in 2018.
These coaches said what?!?!?
For NFL fans anesthetized by Bill Belichick's mumbling postgame interviews, here's a couple refreshing examples of international coaches showing plenty of personality with the media during their time in Sochi.
After his team's underachieving loss to Finland in the men's quarterfinals, Russian hockey coach Zinetula Bilyaletdino had this exchange with a reporter, according to the Wall Street Journal:
Q: What future, if any, do you see for your own work and for your coaching staff? Because, you know, your predecessor was eaten alive after the Olympics
A: Well then, eat me alive right now—
Q: No, I mean—
A: Eat me, and I won't be here anymore.
Q: But we have the world championship coming up!
A: Well then, there will be a different coach because I won't exist any more, since you will have eaten me.
Not to be undone, Dutch speedskating coach Jillert Anema went on CNBC a few days later, where he got into an argument with the host of the financial show
over the value of American football.
"You have a lot of attention on a foolish sport like American football and you waste a lot of talent, athletic talent, on a sport that is meant to kill each other, to injure each other," Anema said. "You're so narrow-minded, and then you want to compete against the world [in other sports] when you waste a lot of time, good talent on a sport that sucks."
Shiffrin becomes America's next golden girl
Move over Lindsey Vonn. The 18-year-old gold medalist in the women's slalom could be the face of U.S. women's skiing for the next decade. Shiffrin set some lofty goalsfor herself a day after her victory.
"I'm still young and I still have a lot of strength to gain over the next few summers of conditioning and the next few winters of skiing," Shiffrin said. "I don't want to push myself too far too fast and definitely don't get greedy, but at the same time, I'm a dreamer.
"So right now I'm dreaming of the next Olympics, winning five gold medals. Which sounds really crazy. Sorry I just admitted that to you all."
Jones becomes the head cheerleader
There was plenty of questioning about Lolo Jones' selection to the third sled of the U.S. women's bobsled team. While the converted hurdler and her driver Jazmine Fenlator placed a disappointing 11th in the women's final, Jones was as giddy as she's ever been after an Olympic competition as she watched the other two U.S. sleds win silver and bronze. The U.S. 1 team featured fellow track star Lauryn Williams, whom Jones helped recruit to the sport last year and earned a Winter Games medal to add to the gold and silver she won on the track.
"I am so pumped. Everyone fought so hard," an ecstatic Jones said after the race. "I feel like I'm in the presence of Jesse Owens when I saw Lauryn Williams get out of that sled. I was so emotionally choked up. She just broke history, and I couldn't believe it. It's so awesome."
Sadness and silver for the U.S. women's hockey team
This silver medal ceremony wasn't a happy one at all. The members of the U.S. women's hockey team accepted their awards at the Bolshoy Ice Dome with a mixture of distraught tears and distant stares after Canada erased a 2-0 deficit with 3:26 left in the game to score two regulation goals, followed by one on a power-play to win in overtime.
The bad taste and several tears remained the following morning when members of the team appeared at a news conference.
"We're incredibly proud to have represented the United States at this year's Olympics and extremely proud to receive the silver medal," U.S. coach Katey Stone said. "On the other side of that, we're devastated we didn't get to the highest platform. All these kids, they're incredibly competitive people, athletes, and so there's a difficult feeling in their stomachs right now, which is completely understandable, but I couldn't be prouder of everything they've done."
This one's going to sting for awhile.