We’re only one week into the 2010 Winter Olympics and already we have experienced some amazing Olympic moments. Here’s a countdown of the greatest thrills and spills from Vancouver so far.
1. Apolo Anton Ohno: He’s officially the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time, with a career total of 2 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals. He has dominated short track since 2002 and has helped shine a light on short track speed-skating, probably the most exhilarating, unpredictable, thrilling winter sport. He’s been the most popular American winter Olympian since he burst on to the scene at the Salt Lake City games, and he’s still winning people over with his charisma and smiles. If you’re not already watching for the twists and turns, narrowly avoided accidents and gruesome crashes, then watch to see Apolo Ohno glide to victory once more. By the end of watching one of his races, you’ll probably want to grow out a soul patch and wear a bandana around your head, too.
2. Evan Lysacek ending decades of Russian dominance by defeating Yevgeny Plushenko in men’s figure skating: Plushenko was the defending gold medalist coming into the Vancouver Olympics, and it was going to take a real miracle on ice to bring him down. That’s where Lysacek, the current reigning world champion, stepped in and threw it down, serving Plushenko with a hot steaming plate of American fabulousness. Plushenko continues to bitch and moan about the fact that Lysacek won even though he didn’t perform a quadruple jump, the most difficult move in the competition, but Lysacek still accepted his victory with graciousness.
3. Johnny Weir being Johnny Weir: Whether he’s speaking Russian, blowing kisses to the crowd or wearing fur, sequins, glitter and tassels, Johnny Weir is always the most entertaining member of the American team. He’s a magnet for controversy; after being threatened by PETA for wearing fur, and being called a woman and a bad example for male figure skaters by Canadian commentators, he’s still skating to the beat of his own drum. Whether or not the judges appreciate Weir’s personality, he is definitely a crowd favorite.
4. Bode Miller’s great return: It’s only bronze, but after being humbled in Torino where he didn’t win a single medal, it’s probably his most meaningful medal. Miller was probably the most hyped athlete in 2006 and he failed to live up to it. He became more notorious for hitting the town instead of training and for being the bad boy of skiing. Four years later, Miller is a dad and clearly it has changed him for the better. This bronze medal a sign that Miller is a big boy now, less arrogant and carefree, and there is nothing people like to see more than an athlete’s fall from grace, followed by his or her glorious return.
5. Lindsey Vonn and her infamous shin: Fighting through the pain, this snow bunny lived up to all the hype, winning gold and bronze medals already. For any of you not watching the Olympics and who aren’t aware of Vonn, pick up the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and you’ll understand why she’s garnering so much attention.
6. The first Canadian gold won in Canada, and the heartwarming story behind the man who did it: Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada’s first home gold in men’s moguls, and while this feat is special enough, it’s the story behind Bilodeau that is truly endearing. Alexandre’s older brother Frederic suffers from cerebral palsy, a disease which doctors thought would leave him unable to walk past childhood. Frederic has served as Alexandre’s inspiration, and seeing the two brothers hug after his gold medal run was a truly Olympic moment.
It’s easy to become jaded when you watch the Olympics, seeing it as a display of corporate sponsorship rather than true sportsmanship, but Bilodeau proved that the Olympics are about more than advertisements and protests. It’s about the spirit of competition, friendly rivalries, national pride, and two weeks of athleticism, patriotism and the fun of cheering on your favorite athletes.