Olympic Precap: The Games are Closed

Via @NBCOlympics

The Olympics Precap is a daily post that will serve as a recap and preview of the action in PyeongChang.

Here’s What Happened: Sunday, February 25th

Cross-country skiing was the first sport to award medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. It was also the last.

In that first medal event of the Games, Marit Bjoergen of Norway won a medal, it was silver. In the final medal event of the Games, Marit Bjoergen won a medal, it was gold.

It is almost fitting that the Norwegian bookended these Games with medals. Her country dominated them and in the process, she became the most decorated athlete ever in Winter Olympics competition with 15 career medals spanning five Olympics.

Five of those fifteen career medals came in PyeongChang, the fifth coming early this morning in the women’s 30km mass start where she won gold. The race was never close, the 38 year old Norwegian just increased her lead the long the race went, eventually winning by well over a minute.

Bjoergen won a medal in every event she competed in during the 2018 Games. Her performance was a microcosm for her country as a whole.

Standing beside Bjoergen on the medal stand was Krista Parmakoski of Finland with the silver and Stina Nilsson of Sweden with the bronze. It was a Scandinavian sweep on the medal stand, just like the first medal event two weeks earlier.

With the final medals having been decided, it was time for the Games to officially come to a close at the Closing Ceremony back in the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium where they officially began just 16 days prior.

Olympic Closing Ceremonies are generally much more laid back and relaxed than the Opening Ceremony. It’s viewed as more of a celebration for what the athlete’s had accomplished over the previous two weeks of competition and it is a chance for the host nation to show off a little bit before everyone packs up and heads out.

South Korea brought their A game to the Closing Ceremony, coming in hot and heavy with one of their biggest cultural staples, K-Pop.

K-Pop is quite simply Korean pop music and it is absolutely massive in South Korea. You probably have never heard of most of the bands but back home they are absolute rock stars to their millions of adoring fans. The Opening Ceremony featured popular K-Pop music during the Parade of Nations but the Closing Ceremony was a full blown concert featuring some of the biggest names in the industry.

One area the Opening and Closing Ceremony do converge is the aforementioned Parade of Nations where athletes from all the countries march into the stadium to be honored. It is a little more toned down during the Closing Ceremony since some athletes have already left the Games when their competitions ended but it is still a big deal nonetheless.

The United States Olympic Committee caused major controversy surrounding the United States flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony when luger Erin Hamlin was selected over speed skater Shani Davis.

There was much less drama this time around when the USOC selected cross-country skier Jessica Diggins for the honor of carrying the flag during the Closing Ceremony. Just a few days prior, Diggins, along with teammate Kikkan Randall, won the United States’ cross-country gold medal in history.

One big winner coming out of PyeongChang was Olympic mascot Soohorang, a cute tiger-like creature who was plastered all over place during the Games. You may best remember the little creature from the stuffed animal replicas the medal winning athletes were given when they stepped on the podium. He made one last impression on the Games when drones flying above the Olympic Stadium formed to create a silhouette of Soohorang in the sky.

There are two moments always guaranteed to take place during a Closing Ceremony, marking the end of the current Games and passing the torch for those to come.

First, is the handing over the Olympic flag from the current host nation to the host nation of the next Olympic Games (this goes from winter host to winter host and summer host to summer host). In this case, the flag was handed from South Korea to the mayor of Beijing, China who are set to host the next Winter Olympic Games in 2022.

The second and most noteworthy tradition of the Closing Ceremony is the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame, declaring the official end to the Games. Two weeks earlier, South Korean gold medal figure skater Yuna Kim was given the honor of lighting the flame in her home country. Now, after 16 days of intense competition across a variety of disciplines, it was time to draw the 2018 Winter Olympics to a close.

You may feel a little sad that the Olympics have come to a close but all good things must come to an end. Before you know it, we’ll be heading to Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics so don’t worry too much, the Olympics will be back. The wait between is what makes the Games so special.

PyeongChang provided many amazing memories and stories that will not soon be forgotten. From Ester Ledecka shocking the world in alpine skiing to the U.S. women’s ice hockey team winning a gold medal that eluded them for two decades.

These moments are what we will remember from these Winter Olympic Games because they are moments that will last a lifetime.

Thank you for everything, PyeongChang. For two weeks you welcomed the world and we could not be more grateful.

Here’s What’s Next: Looking Ahead

A quick look ahead at the Olympic Games to come in the next few years:

2020 Summer Olympics: Tokyo, Japan

(It’s actually 877 now. But seriously, who’s counting?)

2022 Winter Olympics: Beijing, China

2024 Summer Olympics: Paris, France

2026 Winter Olympics: TBA; Host city will be selected in September 2019.

2028 Summer Olympics: Los Angeles, United States

Final Medal Table

The final medal standings from the 2018 Winter Olympics:

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 11.57.57 PM

Norway finished a dominant Olympics with 39 medals, the most ever by a single nation at a Winter Games. Germany is the only other nation to top the 30 mark. Canada comes in third with a new country best 29 medals won. The United States struggled at times but still finished comfortably in the top five with 23 medals. The Netherlands was fifth with 20, all of which came in speed-skating. Host nations usually get a medal bump and South Korea was the latest to benefit, winning 17 total medals, their most ever.

That’s a wrap on our daily coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading these daily posts as much as I enjoyed writing them. I wanted to bring our readers the best possible coverage from my desk at home, making it feel like you were there in person.

Over the course of the last two plus weeks, I poured a lot of time and energy into these daily precaps (yes, I made this word up) and I hope you took a lot out of them and I hope they helped you stay in touch with the action in PyeongChang. Working with a 14 hour time difference was not always the most conducive for producing up to date content but I managed the best I could.

While I’m sad the Games have ended and these daily posts will no longer be apart of my routine, I’m also happy that I will have more time to bring you different kinds of content going forward, beginning very soon.

One thing I can say, I hope to continue doing these precaps for large sporting events going forward, beginning with the 2018 FIFA World Cup beginning in June. I may tweak the style and format in the coming month but the general idea will be the same. If you enjoyed these daily posts for the Olympics, I hope you check back to see what I have in store for the World Cup (and other events) in the future.

Also, if you enjoyed this Olympic content I would love to hear from you, good or bad. Have an idea how I can improve this style going forward? I’m all ears for that as well. You can leave a comment on the post or find me on Twitter at @rjnaugle2.

Last but not least, thank you. Thank you to everyone who read my work over the past two weeks. Seeing our site traffic jump and seeing the views on my posts is what really kept me going. Writing about sports is a real passion of mine but knowing people are consuming my content and getting something out of it is what strives me to continue doing it and getting better in the process.

Stay tuned later this week for my full recap of the 2018 Winter Olympics where I will take a deep dive into what all went down in PyeongChang.

This was a crazy ride and I enjoyed every second of it. I hope you did as well.

Thank you.

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