Honoring the athletes, moments, and Twitter accounts who really deserved to take home the gold this year
Mea culpa time. We predicted this would be our best Olympics ever, and then it was a little underwhelming. It’s not been all bad—we were especially thrilled by medals from Chloe Kim, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins, and Mikaela Shiffrin (twice!)—not to mention Lindsey Vonn’s emotional bronze. But it hasn’t quite been the flurry of gold we expected.
Still, we’re good sports and Olympic enthusiasts until the end. So we decided to end the Games by awarding a few gold medals, honoring the most exciting and ridiculous moments that really made the 2018 Olympics.
Best Call by an Announcer: Chad Salmela on Women’s Cross Country Skiing
“Here comes Diggins! Here comes Diggins! Yes! Yes! Yes! Gold!” It’s up there with “The Giants win the pennant,” “Down goes Frazier,” and “Do you believe in miracles?” as one of the best calls of all time.
—Matt Skenazy, senior editor
Best Social Media Presence: Adam Rippon
Yes, I know this is a predictable one. But I spend a lot of time on Twitter (much more time than I’ve spent watching the Olympics, if I’m being honest) and figure skater Adam Rippon is a small bright spot in that dark place. If you need convincing that Adam deserves the gold in this category, I’ll just let him speak for himself:
—Molly Mirhashem, associate editor
Best Worst Athlete Who Should’ve Been in the Olympics: Krishna Sai Rahul Eluri
This figure skater has such a heartfelt story about how he practices primarily on roller skates since his hometown doesn’t have an ice rink. At Slate, Justin Peters wrote an ode to Eluri’s performance in the 2016 International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix: “Even without adjusting for those limitations, he gave the crowd a fun show characterized by an authentic joy that many skaters lose as their routines become more polished.”
—Jenny Earnest, social media manager
Best Worst Athlete Who Shouldn’t Have Been in the Olympics: Elizabeth Swaney
You’ve likely already seen the clip from the women’s freeski halfpipe event. Swaney drops in and approaches each wall with hesitance. Her skis barely leave the snow at the lip of the pipe—a stark contrast to the electrifying 900’s and 1080’s performed by medalists Cassie Sharpe of Canada, Marie Martinod of France, and the USA’s Brita Sigourney. Turns out that Swaney, an American, figured out how to get into the Olympics with the help of loopholes, self-funding, and competing for Hungary. All of the other athletes, and women’s freeskiing in general, were left unjustly overshadowed by this self-promotional stunt. At least it was funny?
—Christopher Thompson, visual producer
Worst Sportsmanship: Mathieu Faivre
This week, I learned that you can get sent home from the Olympics just for being a bad team player, as French skier Mathieu Faivre was after he placed seventh in the giant slalom and told reporters he didn’t care how his teammates did: “I’m here for my own personal interest, to build my career.” I also learned that FIS lists all skiers’ zodiac signs. (Faivre is a capricorn—maybe this explains his bad attitude!) Most importantly, I learned that Faivre is dating Mikaela Shiffrin, a pisces who clearly deserves better than this.
—Erin Berger, senior editor
Best Spectator: The Curling Husband
At every Olympics there are fans who rise above the crowd—last summer we got Aly Raisman’s nervous parents, this year it was the glorious “curling husband.” In what is my favorite moment of the Games, Canadian curler Rachel Homan’s husband was seen double fisting beers as he cheered her on at a 9 a.m. match. Nothing but respect for you, sir.
—Marie Sullivan, associate video producer
Most Team Spirit: Leslie Jones
—Aleta Burchyski, senior copy editor
Best Finish-Line Celebration: German Mandrazo
The guy picked up cross-country skiing last year, competing for Mexico and training with Tonga’s famous greasy flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua. Mandrazo came in dead last in the men's individual 15K race, nearly doubling the time of the first place finisher. But when Mandrazo crossed the finish line he celebrated like a champ, throwing his arms into the air and grabbing a Mexican flag from a fan, before his Tongan pal hoisted him into the air.
—J. Weston Phippen, senior editor
Best Olympic Athlete-Artist: Alexi Pappas
Distance runner Alexi Pappas is giving her followers a taste of what life is really like at the Winter Games as one of the four athletes selected for an artist residency this year. Her Instagram is full of training shots on forest trails and photos of her lounging in her Olympic Village bed. And she gets bonus points for flashing her bicep tattoo of the Olympic rings, from when she competed in the last Summer Games, at every chance she gets.
—Abigail Wise, online managing editor
Wildest Snowboarding Lingo: Jamie Anderson
Including: “putting it down,” “winning double gold would’ve been gangster,” and “bless the rest.” She killed me. It was like another language.
—Mary Turner, deputy editor
Most “WTF? Seriously?” Moment
As we know, Russians were banned from competing under their own flag because of the state-sponsored doping conspiracy. You’d think they’d take a season off. But Aleksandr Krushelnitckii says, Idi k chertu (roughly: go to hell) and doped anyway. He was caught and stripped of his bronze medal in... curling.
Most Entertaining Overall Commentary: Bode Miller
Clearly I disagree with Deadspin’s opinion on this. Sure, he’s made some bad jokes, but listening to Miller talk is so much less painful than it used to be watching him ski. A pretty great moment was his self-deprecating acknowledgment, during the women’s alpine combined event, that he was probably being too hard on the competitors because at least they were getting themselves down the slope cleanly, which he could only do half the time.
—Svati Narula, assistant social media editor
Greatest Feud We Didn’t Know We Needed: Kirstie Alley vs. U.S. Men’s Curling Team
Kirstie Alley said curling is boring; the men’s curling team said Kirstie’s movies are boring. To be fair: The U.S. beating Canada for a place in the gold-medal round is the opposite of boring. And Kirstie Alley was really good in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.