The Wildest Moments of the 2014 Sochi Olympics
Old men flew, ceremonies faltered and a broadcast professional with pink eye swilled Russian vodka on national television.
These are all things that happened at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
While every Olympics has its share of triumphs and failures, you'd be hard pressed to find a weirder grab bag of highs and lows for humanity than the Sochi Winter Games.
Before we put the past three weeks of strange glory behind us forever, let's take a look at some of Sochi's wildest Olympic moments. Some are good-good, while others are delicious morsels of awfulness.
Together they paint the picture of Sochi, Russia—where stray dogs roam and the creepy bears groan.
Shots with Bob Costas
Sochi gave us many gifts, not the least of which was the treasure of watching Bob Costas slowly erode into Drunk Uncle on national television.
Battling a raging case of pink eye, Costas tried valiantly to manage the mountainous demands of anchoring NBC's Olympic coverage. It was an honorable attempt, but NBC's leading man was half-giddy and swilling vodka before the first week of broadcasting was through.
The network eventually benched Costas for Matt Lauer—a grave mistake, in this author's opinion. NBC could've shattered ratings records had it done the sensible thing and trotted Costas out there with a bottle of John Barleycorn to read the news and tell America spooky bedtime stories.
T.J. Oshie and the Americans Topple Russia
I know. Fourth place is the worst.
But look at the bright side, U.S. hockey fans—we beat Russia. Sure, we didn't go full Miracle, but toppling an old adversary and defeating the artist formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has to count for something, or the system is broken.
Furthermore, the U.S. defeated Russia in dramatic fashion, with T.J. Oshie slipping the game-winning goal past the perfectly named Sergei Bobrovsky in a wild shootout. Makes a man want to build a wall just so he can tear it down and stare at the rubble in satisfaction.
Shaun White Pulls out of Slopestyle
Gasp! Panic! Hysteria!
Shaun White's decision to pull out of the slopestyle snowboarding competition rocked the Winter Olympics, although not to the extent that Sochi's death trap halfpipe rocked the former gold medalist's snowboard.
Indeed, forgoing slopestyle didn't pan out in the former gold medalists' favor, and a combination of less than stellar runs and poor conditions ultimately kept White off the podium.
Opening Ceremony Ring Fail
A ring failing to blossom might not be "wild," but you wouldn't have known that from the outpouring of joy that swept the Internet when Russian technology failed in front of a global audience.
Minds were lost when that Russia's fifth blooming onion of light malfunctioned in the middle of the Sochi opening ceremony. And while many were laughing at it then, Russia had the good humor to mock the gaffe when the closing ceremony came around.
Solid work, guys.
Erin Hamlin Wins First Medal for Women's Luge
Gold is great, but bronze medalists are the happiest people at the Olympics.
They didn't expect to even be there. Most bronze medalists come to the Olympics just hoping for a goodie bag and a free sandwich. Just making the cut is their total victory, and actually ending up on the podium is a life-affirming event.
This was more or less the case for everyone on the U.S. women's luge squad. No one in the history of the squad had ever even medaled in the luge, so when Erin Hamlin crossed the line with a third place time, the party was on.
Svendsen Nearly Loses His Gold
Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen nearly cost himself a gold medal after pulling up to celebrate the final yards of the men's 15-kilometer mass start biathlon.
France's Martin Fourcade was less than a hot breath behind when the Norwegian pulled up at the finish line and nearly stole Svendson's gold medal with a last-ditch lunge.
Remember, kids: You go 100 percent until the whistle blows...or until you push your skis...across the finish line...marker...thingy.
41-Year-Old Ski Jumper Wins Silver
While the rest of his generation is Googling "Botox safe?" and really getting into The Blacklist, Noriaki Kasai is winning Olympic medals.
The 41-year-old Japanese ski jumper reeled in the silver medal in men's ski jump at Sochi. Even better, he came within 1.3 points of defeating 26-year-old Polish gold-medal winner Kamil Stoch.
To recap, a 41-year-old man was deemed the second-best person in the world when it comes to launching his body long distances off and landing safely. The world really is beautiful sometimes.
Dutch Coach Says American Football 'Sucks'
"I hate it, and it stanks!"
This was the basic sentiment Dutch speedskating coach Jillert Anema relayed during an interview with CNBC. Riding high on a 21-medal domination of Sochi's speedskating events, Anema went to town on America's love for football, citing it as the reason for the United States' disappointing performance in speedskating at the 2014 Winter Games.
"You have a lot of attention on a foolish sport like American football," Anema said. "And you waste a lot of talent, athletic talent, on a sport that is meant to kill each other...You're so narrow-minded, and then you want to compete against the world [in other sports] when you waste a lot of time, good talent on a sport that sucks."
Oh yeah, "Jillert"? Tough words for someone whose name could double as a sad girl's yogurt. You really want to tangle with this hot tamale? Oh no, you do not.
Canada Beats USA 1-0
[Pulls out katana] [Opens bowels]
This is what I felt like doing after watching the U.S. lose 5-0 to Finland in the bronze-medal game. It was a bonfire of the vanities—an utter nuking of our self-worth. The world was a less magical place by the time it was all over.
Compared to the bronze-medal game against Finland, U.S. vs. Canada was like riding a wet buffalo down a gravel ridge. I caught myself forgetting to breathe during this one, and despite the loss, everyone walked away from it with a sense of pride. Dented pride, but pride nonetheless.
Canada was the better team, but America gave them a plateful. Most importantly, hockey as a sport was done justice.
Swedish Skier Tells World 'Wu Tang Is for the Children'
Swedish skier Henrik Harlaut's Wu-Tang shout-out was a reminder to every little boy and girl of the world that you can be a Winter Olympian and still enjoy gangster rap.
If there were gold medals to be given for sheer entertainment value and/or losing your pants at an international sporting event, Harlaut would've doubled down on the precious metals.
Image via Getty
The Sochi Bear Stare
Bad Sochi Bear! No feeding on the life force of young women!
We tried to give him a chance, but nothing Sochi Bear did over the last three weeks could've been construed as "normal" or "reassuring." He scared us during ceremonies, saddened us after hockey games and weirdest of all, froze in the middle of a live-feed chat with Sports Illustrated models.
Nowhere, at any point in time, was he less than creepy or more than off-putting. That's just the honest truth.
Alex Bilodeau Dedicates Gold to Brother
Every once in a while, something happens that reminds us that the world can be an okay place.
For the 2014 Winter Olympics, that something was Alex Bilodeau's gold-medal dedication. After bringing home the second gold medal of his career in men's moguls, the Canadian freestyle skier took a moment to attribute his success to his older brother Frederic, who was born with cerebral palsy.
"The motivation that [Frederic] has, if he had had the chances like I did, he would have been four times Olympic champion," Bilodeau said. "He's a great inspiration, a great person and he's going to be an inspiration for me after my career also."
You're my boy, Frederic. [Sniff]. You're my boy.
Kate Hansen Twerk-Blesses the Bronze
She danced, twerked and pranked her way into our heats.
In her three weeks in Sochi, American luger Kate Hansen became a nationally known quantity, and she did it without winning a single medal.
The only medal she needed was teammate Erin Hamlin's, which Hansen "dance-blessed" with a twerking ceremony—a twerking ceremony for America.
If only Hansen's "wolf of Sochi" video hadn't turned out to be a hoax. In that case, she would've secured wildest Winter Olympics experience in history. Maybe next time, Kate.
Olga Graf Lets Loose
"We're skating up through the quad to the gymnasium! Everybody's doing it!"
After winning Russia's first gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics, speedskater Olga Graf celebrated Frank the Tank style with some (inadvertent) disrobing.
In her elation, Graf unzipped her skinsuit, forgetting she wasn't wearing anything underneath. No word on whether she asked Putin to follow her to the gymnasium.
Matt Lauer's Red Eye Joke
He sharpened the knife, put it at a 45-degree angle and let inertia do the rest.
Matt Lauer led Bob Costas right into this red eye joke, thus rewarding viewers with closure and joy as the Games came to a close.
You win again, Matt.
God bless you, Sochi. You weird, beautiful freak of an Olympics.
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