The impact of the Olympics

Anna Wells

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics have come to a close, and like all Olympic games, this has been an event to remember.  From athletes stuck in hotel rooms, Bob Costas battling a terrible bout of pink eye, one terrifying nightmare Sochi bear mascot, to inspiring performances from all countries, it’s time to look at some of the greatest moments that Sochi brought us.

While most Americans, especially in our region, cannot tell the difference between pairs figure skating and ice dancing, first-time American gold-medal winners Charlie White and Meryl Davis changed the game in America.  Not only did they make themselves a household name, they brought national publicity to the sport of ice dancing that was unprecedented.  While alpine skier Bode Miller might not have fared as well as previous Olympics, he passed the torch (no pun intended) of beloved American skier to Ted Ligety, who brought home gold in the men’s giant slalom event.  Off the slopes, driver Steven Holcomb and his team of Americans brought home bronze medals in the two-man and four-man bobsled events.  This marked the first bobsled medals in 62 years for America and also introduced the bobsled of the future, BMW’s “Night Train.”  While some are upset that America did not come first in gold in the medal count, let’s be honest: coming in second place with 28 medals is extremely impressive.

Not only did American athletes turn heads, but other international athletes were able to captivate Americans as well. Mexico’s businessman, photographer, musician and alpine skier German prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe was tagged as the most interesting man of the Olympics, and with credentials like that, how could he not be?  Hohenlohe might have crashed in his downhill event, but his mariachi suit still managed to entertain the crowd on his ski down.  The home country of Russia pulled its first ever gold-medal in ladies figure skating with figure skater Adeline Sotnikova achieving an upsetting win over Olympic favorite, South Korea’s Yuna Kim.

It would be remiss to mention one of the most touching parts of the Olympics, the moment when late Canadian skier Sarah Burke’s ashes were sprinkled over the Sochi half-pipe.  Burke, who was one of the main promoters of the women’s half-pipe becoming an Olympic sport, was unable to see her dream become a reality after her untimely death after a snowboarding accident in 2012.  American Kaitlyn Farrington brought home the gold in this inaugural event.

While this column could continue for pages, space is limited, so I will keep my closing brief.  No matter the mishaps, the Olympics continue to inspire and amaze the world, and although the games only last for two weeks, it is two weeks that bring a camaraderie that no other international event can.