Shocks, successes and record-breakers defined the 19 days of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Taking place in Pyeongchang in the South Korea, audiences saw everything from previous gold medal takers not even making the podium, to never-heard-of-before athletes stealing the show — but what were this year’s stand-out performances? Chill Factore — where you can get a lift pass for the UK’s longest indoor slope with real snow — discusses its favourites.
Cross-country skiing: Marit Bjoergen
One of the most memorable moments from the 2018 Winter Olympics was seeing Norway’s Marit Bjoergen score a hugely impressive eighth gold medal at the final event. Now the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time, Bjoergen, 37, couldn’t hide her euphoria when she won first place for her performance in the women’s cross-country skiing. Afterwards, she said: “I’ve had an amazing day. Today, my skis were good and it was special.”
Bjoergen was the clear favourite from the off. She broke away early and took the lead for over 60 seconds at the halfway mark — too much for her competitors. Following Bjoergen was Swedish opponent, Charlotte Kalla, who was trying to become her country’s most decorated Olympian. Unfortunately, she finished nearly three minutes behind the victor.
The win rounds off what has been a fantastic Olympic run for Bjoergen, who will no longer compete at the games. A BBC sports commentator said: “It is the greatest cross-country performance you could ever imagine. She has transcended the boundaries of her sport.”
Ice hockey: Ryan Donato
Before the games started, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who ice hockey player, Ryan Donato, was. However, this Harvard University student has been touted as the saviour of US ice hockey in this year’s Winter Olympics.
He helped his team race to a 2-1 victory against Slovakia, and scored two out of five goals in the play-offs, against Slovakia. Mark Arcobello was quick to praise his teammate following the victory and said: “Donato can really shoot it.”
Responsible for almost 50% of the USA hockey team’s score, Donato played a key part in Team USA’s ice hockey success. Although his team crashed out of the event at the quarter-final stage, Donato has clearly made his mark on the sport.
Snowboard parallel giant slalom and skiing super: Ester Ledecka
As the first female athlete to take home multiple gold medals in separate sports at the same Olympic event, Ester Ledecka, from the Czech Republic, secured her place in the history books.
Her performance was incredible throughout the competition, but perhaps most notable was her shock victory in the super G event, which saw her swipe victory from her nearest opponent with just 0.46 seconds to spare.
Despite skiing since she was five years old, Ledecka only started the skiing circuit two years ago — the skis she used in the super G event were actually borrowed! The 22-year-old Czech superstar said: “I love racing. This is the best thing about my job.”
Figure skating: Yuzuru Hanyu
Defending Olympic figure skating champ, Yuzuru Hanyu, reminded us why he’s one of the world’s best at this year’s Winter Olympics.
With the second highest ever score in the event (111.68), at the end of the performance, Hanyu’s fans threw Winnie the Pooh teddy bears at him to celebrate. Why Winnie the Pooh? The fictional bear is actually Hanyu’s unofficial mascot and good-luck charm. Johnny Weir, American skater and sport commentator, described the Japanese skater’s performance at this year’s event as “liquid silk.”
Skeleton: Lizzy Yarnold:
Lizzy Yarnold had a fantastic competition this year, as she defended her title and retained her position as world number one in the skeleton event.
Yarnold made her way into the record books as Britain’s first ever winter athlete to take home two gold medals. Despite suffering from a virus that affected her breathing and caused dizzy spells, Yarnold won by 0.45 seconds with a track record of 51.46 — although, she trailed behind Austrian Janine Flock prior to the fourth and final run before clinching the lead.
Skelton bronze winner, Laura Deas, said: “Lizzy is such a phenomenal athlete. She is so consistent and she knows how to bring it when it matters.” After the event, Yarnold tweeted: ‘I won the Olympics again!!! #HistoryMaker’.
“No other female has tried to retain this title and one of the reasons is because it is so hard. To have the mental grit to come back and say, ‘I don’t care about all that, I am going to come back and show you what I can do’. I’m sure if Lizzy Yarnold decides she’s achieved everything she can, she will find something else to do and succeed at that,” said Alex Coomber, an Olympic skeleton racer, when speaking on a BBC broadcast.
30km skiathlon: Simen Hegstad Krueger:
As a team, Norway enjoyed great success at the 2018 Winter Olympics, with many outstanding performances from athletes. Simen Hegstad Krueger played a particularly unforgettable role for his country.
At the start of the event, Krueger was involved in a crash involving Andrey Larkov and Denis Spitsov, which could have knocked his confidence and hindered his performance. Instead, the steely Norwegian dusted himself off and went on to win gold in the 30km skiathlon by a massive eight seconds.
Taking the lead in the remaining 5km of the event, Krueger is on record describing his win as an “indescribable feeling.”
Pairs skating: Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot
It was all eyes on German figure skating stars, Aljona Savcehnko and Bruno Massot, during this year’s free skate event. So much so, that the pair even set an Olympic record with their score of 159.31!
The score came as a shock to the skaters, who believed they’d made a mistake in the short section of the routine. Despite this set-back, there were tears on the ice when the pair completed their flawless free skate performance, which catapulted them from fourth to first place — although, the anxious wait for their competitors to complete their performances before the first-place spot was confirmed was clearly agonizing for the pair.
To achieve the perfect symmetry of the routine, the duo included triple twist lifts, triple flips and a side-by-side, triple toe leaving the audience in awe. After winning the top spot, Massot said: “We were two fighters. We were on the ice for a medal, and for a gold medal, and we didn’t give up.”
The medal table by country
The below table shows the top ten performing countries at the Winter Olympics, including how Britain fared: