By Natalie Heavren, Staff Writer
The 2018 Winter Olympics have come and gone, and the countdown to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begins.
Team USA finished the games in fourth place overall with 23 medals, behind Norway, Germany, and Canada. They finished with nine gold, eight silver, and six bronze medals. This was one of the most successful stretches of medal winning, resulting in three gold and four silver medals.
The U.S. women’s hockey team took home gold for the first time in 20 years on Thursday, after beating Canada in a shootout. Thirty-eight years to the day after the U.S. men’s hockey team ended the Soviet Union’s streak of four straight Olympic gold medals, the U.S. women did the same to Canada’s streak of four straight Olympic gold medals.
Other members of Team USA also made history this week, becoming the first American curling team to beat their Canadian rivals. This was just one victory on the way to winning the first U.S. gold medal in Olympic history in men’s curling.
Team USA took home both gold and silver in the freestyle skiing men’s halfpipe thanks to David Wise and Alex Ferreira. Wise also came in first in Sochi in 2014 when the event first premiered.
Mikaela Shiffrin added to her medal count with a silver in women’s combined alpine skiing. Jamie Anderson was also able to add a silver in women’s big air (snowboarding) to her medal count. Kyle Mack won his first Olympic medal, a silver, in men’s big air.
With the help of Wise, Ferreira, Shiffrin, Anderson and Mack, as well as others, Team USA was able to win half their medals in either snowboarding or freestyle skiing.
Though this Olympics was full of history, not all of it was good. The 23 medals won this year were the U.S.’s lowest total since 1998, when there were only 68 events compared to the current 102 events.
The U.S. earned 13 fewer medals than they expected according to sports statisticians at Five Thirty Eight. They fell not only short of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s baseline of 25 medals, but well short of their goal of 37 medals set by Team USA in the 2010 Winter Games.
Norway beat that record by winning 39 medals in Pyeongchang — eleven more than they were predicted to win.
Although the 2018 Winter Games may not have turned out as expected, history was made by individual athletes and competing teams such as Norway. Let the countdown begin to the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
Illustration by Ally McAlpine