All that training.
All that work.
All that pressure.
And the release of the performance.
It can all combine to leave Olympians speechless. But, in these cases, it gave us everything from entertainment to intrigue, fascination to debate.
“Does anyone have snacks? I’m starving.”
Team USA’s megastar 21-year-old snowboarder just needed to get some food in her system after earning a second-consecutive halfpipe gold medal, and Chloe Kim‘s quote is more memorable because media members quickly obliged her.
Kim even offered a fellow boarder some of her haul.
“I wasn’t even sure if I was gonna ski on my second run after my crash. I hope the cameraman is okay. I landed directly on him.”
“I wanted to cry, so I cried. I’ve been here for two weeks, alone without my mom, without the dogs, so I am crying.”
Whether loneliness, disappointment at second place, ROC teammate Kamila Valieva’s multiple-fall skate after an excruciating Olympics under the microscope or some combination of the three, Aleksandra Trusova‘s explanation for his post-silver tears helped renew calls to evaluate the minimum age for Olympic participation given the massive pressures of representing a nation.
Following Day 1 of women’s monobob competition, newly-minted American bobsledder Kaillie Humphries was asked what it would mean to win gold for the U.S. after she nearly missed out on the Games due to alleged abuse from her former Team Canada bosses.
“It’s an honor to be here … It’s not something that was guaranteed. It’s something that I had to fight tooth and nail for, I had to give up and sacrifice for. The U.S. really had to accept me, and take me on. And so to be able to be a citizen representing the place where I live, where I will grow and raise my family – I’m going to do everything I possibly can to stand on the podium. … I want to be able to put my heart and soul into it, and I know the country backs me for that.”
“I’m pretty busy. One, I have to go to the Coke store every day to get the (collectible) pin. Two, Maddie (Chock) broke a nail so I have to fix it tomorrow. Three, I’m reading a book series, very enticing and good. And I started watching a Netflix series. So I’ve got a packed schedule. I’ve got no downtime.”
Nils van der Poel
Nils van der Poel is a world-record holder and Olympic monster, but the gold medalist did not give a ringing endorsement to the sport he’s dominated in such an impressive manner.
“When you’re a professional athlete in a sport that sucks as much as speed skating sucks, you’ve got to find a way to make it suck a little less. Whatever you can get inspired by, you need to find. What do you have to bribe yourself with, to train more than that? … I love the sport, more than most things, but if you want to keep loving it, you have to work for it. It is like a relationship. It doesn’t come to you.”
And this is something he loves more than most things! Anyway, dude is a marvel.
Keeping him off the podium was Swiss snowboarder Jan Scherrer, who issued a stirring verdict on White’s influence after the emotional retiring American was saluted for a fourth-place finish and incredible career.
“Everyone else who was riding today grew up looking up to him as a huge idol. When I was 15, he was just so much better than everyone else, and I feel he was probably the most dominant snowboard character in competition ever. He looks back on 20 years of riding at the highest level, and it was a huge pleasure to have him today in this competition.”
Not to be outdone on the podium or the quoteboard, gold medalist Ayumu Hirano could not believe his landing of a triple cork on his second run kept him out of his first place.
He said this after nailing the trick a second time to secure gold.
“I wasn’t able to accept the second run’s score but I managed to express my anger well at the end.”
Staying with snowboarding, Team USA’s 40-year-old dad deserves the last words x2.
Nick Baumgartner showed us the agony of defeat before the thrill of victory, talking about his son Landon in both cases.
Baumgartner couldn’t get to the final of men’s snowboard cross and ended a tear-filled interview with an unnecessary apology to his boy when broadcaster Hailey Hunter reminded him of his proud support crew back home.
“Thank you guys. Thanks for the support. Landon, I love you. Sorry bud.”
After capturing mixed snowboard cross gold with Lindsey Jacobellis, Baumgartner kept the glory in perspective.
“This gold medal is awesome, but [Landon]’s still the best thing that I’ve ever done and ever will do,” he said. “For him to see me fight through that adversity and do stuff right before he’s about to graduate high school and go on to figure out what he’s going to do in life, is huge.”
Italian Alpine skier Sofia Goggia made a miraculous recovery from a significant knee injury in late January to appear at — and compete in — this year’s Olympics.
After she tore up a downhill training lap, Goggia was asked about her chances of winning.
“We will see,” Goggia responded, “but slow I am not.”
True to her word, Goggia sped to silver a day later.