2018 Winter Olympic Comebacks

The logo of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Whether it be ice skating, skiing, bobsledding, or any other sport, the Winter Olympics are always exciting to watch. Having that post-holiday pick-me-up on the way to spring is a fun way to be entertained in February. The best way to spice up even the most exhilarating sport is a comeback story. Whether it be due to age, lack of expectations, or injury, a comeback story is always guaranteed to win the hearts of millions of viewers worldwide. Some of the best comeback stories in the Winter Olympics follow.

Shaun White (born September 3, 1986) is an American professional snowboarder, skateboarder, and musician. He is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and he holds the record for the most X-Games gold medals (23) and most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder (3). He has also won ten Excellence in Sports Performance Awards (ESPYs). White first competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics at the age of seventeen. There, he won the gold medal in the halfpipe. White won the halfpipe again at the 2010 games with an even larger margin of victory. When it came to the 2012 games, White was the most anticipated athlete to win and with two gold medals already under his belt, and he was feeling pretty confident. To many peoples’ surprise, White finished fourth, disappointing many fans who expected him to win. Post Olympics, White suffered multiple injuries from a halfpipe crash that resulted in him having to get 62 stitches in his face. In an interview with the New York Times on February 13, 2018, White spoke about his process, questioning whether he would return or not. “I’m thinking; ‘what does this mean?’” White said in the interview. “We were on such a great path, and it was that true question of, like ‘do I really want this?’” Stepping out on the snow again means that I’m willing to let this happen to myself again. And that’s a big decision,” said White. Despite the accident, White still managed to qualify for the 2018 US Olympic team. Many fans and coaches were speculating about White’s “lost abilities” and due to lack of offseason performance, younger and stronger players were expected to perform better than him in the competition. White ended up blowing past his competitors on February 14. He won his third Olympic gold medal for the men’s halfpipe event with a score of 97.75, with Ayumu Hirano of Japan taking the silver medal and Scott James of Australia taking the bronze. White was trailing Hirano by one full point coming into his last run with a score of 94.25. Despite this, White dramatically won the gold medal with back-to-back 1440s. His gold medal was also the 100th for the United States at the Winter Olympic Games. “I did what I knew I could do, and what I’ve trained to do, and it makes it all so worthwhile,” he said in the interview. “And I’m an Olympic gold medalist again. Wow.”

Lindsey Vonn (born October 18,1984) is an American alpine ski racer on the US ski team. She has won four World Cup overall championships, with three consecutive titles in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Vonn won the gold medal in downhill skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first ever in the event for an American woman. She has also won a record eight World Cup season titles in the downhill event, and five titles in the super-G. In 2016, she won her 20th World Cup title, an all-time record. She has the highest ranking of all skiers, men or women, in terms of races won. However, Vonn is also famous for her grueling injuries whilst competing. Dating back to 2007, Vonn has experienced debilitating injuries such as bone bruises, ACL tears, cuts, concussions, torn ligaments, and a multitude of broken arms, legs, and ankles. In 2014, she had to sit out of the Sochi Olympics because of a torn ligament and broken leg. Most fans and even Vonn herself questioned whether she would be back after all she had been through, but against all odds, Vonn was healthy enough to compete in the 2018 PyeongChang games. Vonn ended up winning bronze in the downhill event. She dedicated her Olympic races to her grandfather, a Korean War veteran who died the previous November, competing with his initials on her helmet. In a tearful interview with The Huffington Post following the women’s downhill race, Vonn stated: “Our family never gives up, and I never gave up. I kept working hard and I’m really proud of this medal, and I know he [her grandfather] is too.”

US women’s hockey team has been one of the most dominant women’s hockey teams in international play, winning gold or silver in almost every major tournament. Despite this, the American women had not won gold at the Olympics since 1998, narrowly being beaten by their biggest rivals: the Canadians. The American ladies were looking for revenge, and revenge they got. In an exciting final the US women beat Canada 3-2 in a shootout at the 2018 games. “I can’t think about anything except pure pride, excitement, and honor for our team,” captain Meghan Duggan told the International Hockey Federation. “A lot of us have wanted this since we saw the 1998 team win 20 years ago. To have this experience together, to represent our country, is the greatest honor in the world. It’s one of the greatest days of all of our lives.”

 

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