We can all agree that was a fantastic winter olympics. Team GB earned 5 medals, which is a new record. We watched Lizzie Yarnold defend her skeleton title and we found a new hero in the form of snowboarder Billy Morgan. There have been numerous moments from Pyeongchang that have been inspirations, impressive or tear jerking.
Norway, despite being a country of only 5.2 million people, have managed to secure a record medal haul and top the medal table. Nobody can define all of the factors that helped them win on such an epic scale, one member of their team says it's down to the amount of snow they have. Makes sense to me...
There have been a huge range of athletes that have made the headlines, either for their phenomenal sporting performance, or something they’ve said / done. For me, there were two athletes that have stood out from the crowd. Firstly there’s Ester Ledecka, the Czech athlete who has become the first athlete in 90 years to win a gold in two different sports at the same Olympics. Ledecka has always loved both skiing and snowboarding, and this year was able to qualify and represent her country in both sports. She was always expected to be competitive in the snowboarding event, it was generally accepted she would be an “also ran” in the super G skiing.
While is is fairly common for athletes in sports such as swimming to be world class in multiple disciplines, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is the same. Super G skiing and slalom snowboarding are very different. As Ski Sunday commentator Ed Leigh highlights; the sports are about as different as badminton and tennis. Requiring different muscle groups, strategy and technique, it is an incredible feat to even be competitive at both sports, let alone win Olympic gold in both in a single week!
Probably the best element of this story though, is that she didn’t even own the skis she won on - they were borrowed from giant slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin!
For me, the other outstanding athlete was Pita Taufatofua. Although not challenging for the medals, he embodied the Olympic spirit during his cross-country ski event. Firstly a bit of background: He become an internet sensation in 2016 after the Rio opening ceremony, where he paraded topless and “oily”. And, despite being knocked out in the first round of the taekwondo competition he did it all with a fantastic smile on his face and his eternally positive attitude showed that it’s the taking part that counts.
After the Rio Olympics Pita turned down Hollywood deals in favour of representing his country at another sport, and another Olympics; cross-country skiing in the 2018 Winter Games. Despite only 12 weeks training, and not even having seen snow until one year ago, Pita managed to meet the qualification standards for the 15km sprint event. His aims were modest, saying he wanted to finish before they turned the lights off and avoid skiing into a tree! He achieved both of the aims and more
The Olympic spirit was out if full force during Pita’s race. Not only did he avoid skiing into any trees but he also did not come in last place. He did, however, wait at the finish line for the final athlete and the celebrated together! Fantastic stuff.