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Olympic Year in Review: Headlines

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OlympicTalk takes a look back at the year in Olympic sports this week. Today, we review enduring news stories.

US Speedskating’s Sochi Problems

U.S. speed skaters starred in the World Cup season before the Olympics. That, combined with US Speedskating’s history of Olympic medals (more than 20 more than any other U.S. winter sport), portended success in Sochi.

But the U.S. won zero long-track speed skating medals for the first time since 1984. They weren’t even close. The best individual finish was seventh place.

What went wrong? Early reports emphasized an Under Armour racing suit billed as the fastest in the world, different from the suits that U.S. skaters wore during the World Cup season. Skaters eventually reverted to the old suits during the Olympics, but results didn’t get any better.

US Speedskating cited several factors and finalized an internal report in May, also including a decision to hold a pre-Olympic training camp outdoors and up in the mountains in Collalbo, Italy. The Olympic speed skating events were indoors and near sea level.

This season, two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis started out slow but made his first podium in his last World Cup race of 2014. Heather Richardson has been arguably the most impressive male or female skater so far, while Brittany Bowe has also made the podium multiple times.

Olympic Year in Review: Winter Sports | Summer Sports | Photos | Social Media

Yuna Kim Judging Controversy

Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova‘s victory over defending champion Yuna Kim in Sochi became the controversy of the Winter Games, in competition at least.

One of the judges is married to a top Russian figure skating federation official and was seen hugging Sotnikova shortly after she won gold. Another judge was suspended one year as being part of the 1998 Olympic ice dance fixing scandal.

Kim retired after the Olympics, but South Korea’s Skating Union announced one month later that it would file an official protest to the International Skating Union. In June, the International Skating Union rejected the complaints.

It certainly looks like we’ll see Kim at the 2018 Olympics, since she is an ambassador for the first Winter Games in South Korea. Sotnikova, meanwhile, hasn’t competed in top-level international competition since Sochi, suffering a torn ankle ligament this fall.

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Oscar Pistorius Trial

A trial that gripped South Africa and made headlines worldwide began a little over one week after the Sochi Olympics ended.

Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faced up to life in prison for shooting and killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Pistorius’ trial began March 3, was initially slated for three weeks and ran to Oct. 21 with several breaks. On the 49th day in court, Pistorius was sentenced to no more than five years in prison for culpable homicide (but not premeditated murder) with a possibility of it being less than a year and the rest served under house arrest.

On Dec. 10, judge Thokozile Masipa ruled South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal will review the murder trial. Pistorius, 28, is barred from the Rio 2016 Paralympics under his current sentence but could be allowed to return to track and field.

Michael Phelps’ Comeback

The most decorated Olympian of all time came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April, won his first final in May and was the best U.S. men’s swimmer again by August.

Phelps won USA Swimming’s Male Athlete of the Year and finished the season as the only U.S. man with the fastest time in the world in an Olympic event (100m butterfly).

Then, Phelps was pulled over and arrested on DUI charges in September, suspended six months by USA Swimming in October and received probation after pleading guilty in a Baltimore court in December.

The 29-year-old is training again, after spending 45 days in an Arizona treatment program, and focused on unspecified goals for 2015. He is barred from the 2015 World Championships, the biggest meet between now and his potential fifth Olympics in 2016.

Michael Phelps’ potential record chases at Rio Olympics

2024 Olympics

In 2013, the 2020 Olympics were awarded to Tokyo. The focus quickly turned to the next Summer Games, and which city they would be awarded to in 2017.

The U.S. Olympic Committee ramped up its bidding process in 2014, choosing four finalist cities in June (from an initial group of more than 30 to which it sent letters in February 2013). In December, the USOC announced it would bid for the 2024 Olympics, its first bid since Chicago’s failed bid for the 2016 Games.

The U.S. is expected to choose one city from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., in January to be its 2024 bid. The U.S. is in the midst of its longest stretch between hosting Olympics (since 2002) since a 28-year gap from 1932 to 1960.

The U.S. will also get to size up its competition in 2015, with bids confirmed for Rome and either Berlin or Hamburg. Paris and South Africa may also join the fray.

2024 Olympics coverage

Lindsey Vonn’s Comeback

The 2010 Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn announced on Jan. 7 that she would undergo a second knee surgery in less than a year’s time and miss the Sochi Olympics. But she would return to ski racing, and the Olympics in 2018.

Racing another four years? Skepticism was merited. Vonn will be 33 come Pyeongchang 2018, older than any previous Winter Olympic women’s Alpine medalist.

But Vonn silenced doubters with victories in two of her first four races back in December. She goes into the new year one win shy of the women’s all-time World Cup record and a medal favorite at the World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek in February.

Video: Vonn falls in final race of 2014

Olympic Year in Review: Social Media

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OlympicTalk takes a look back at the year in Olympic sports this week. Today, we review social media.

Shaun White drops out, Canadians drop in

Shaun White‘s announcement on Feb. 5 that he would not compete in slopestyle in Sochi due to injury risk created quite the buzz. That included stinging criticism from his Canadian peers, medal hopefuls Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot.

Toutant and Parrot later deleted their tweets, and didn’t win medals, but didn’t back down from their stances. Toutant and Parrot are both competing this season, while White hasn’t competed yet but indicated a return at some point.

source:  source:  Heidi Kloser, Olympian

U.S. moguls skier Heidi Kloser tore an ACL, partially tore an MCL, partially tore a meniscus and broke a femur in warm-ups for her Olympic debut, before the Opening Ceremony, and was unable to compete.

That prompted an emotional Facebook post from her father, Mike Kloser. Kloser returned to skiing Nov. 11 but hasn’t yet returned to competition, according to her International Ski Federation profile.

Johnny Quinn Busts Through

Johnny Quinn had one of the more compelling backstories of the 230-member U.S. Olympic team — an NFL wide receiver turned bobsledder.

But he became much more famous on Feb. 8, the day after the Opening Ceremony.

Quinn reportedly went from 3,000 to 25,000 followers in the first week of the Olympics. As 2015 nears, Quinn is back down to 23,000 followers.

He kept up the theme of getting stuck and/or breaking down doors, even after the Olympics.

Ashley Wagner’s Meme-Hood

U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner endured a tumultuous winter. She finished fourth at the U.S. Championships in January but was placed on the U.S. Olympic team over the third-place finisher.

Then, in Sochi, Wagner received surprisingly low scores (in her opinion, at least) in the team event short program and let her facial expression show it.

That look provided blood in the water for those looking for Sochi’s version of McKayla Maroney, the not-impressed gymnast from London 2012.

Wagner quickly became a meme. Seeing her face on all sorts of photoshops and social posts was “absolutely hilarious,” she said.

Tara and Johnny

Thanks in part to social media, NBC Olympic figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir became bigger hits than many of the athletes in Sochi.

Their refreshing candor and stylish outfits became a daily staple of figure skating coverage. They created shared Twitter and Instagram pages. “Enjoy the ride with us,” the @taraandjohnny Instagram profile read. We certainly did.

Kate Hansen Cries Wolf

U.S. Olympic luger Kate Hansen‘s impact on the Sochi Winter Games expanded well beyond the 3 minutes, 22 seconds, she spent in competition (she placed 10th).

Hansen, a 22-year-old California native, captivated viewers with her warm-up routine before competing — dancing to Beyoncé.

Nine days after the women’s luge event, Hansen again turned on her charm by uploading a YouTube video, apparently of a wolf lurking in the hall outside her room in Sochi. That turned out to be a prank.

Hansen isn’t competing this season, choosing to focus on studies at Brigham Young University.

Shaun White, Prom Crasher

In March, Pennsylvania high school senior Carly Monzo made a video asking Shaun White to her prom in May. She never heard from White, assumed he wouldn’t be able to make it and went with a friend instead.

As it turned out, White did find out about the video and surprised Monzo — with his band, Bad Things.


In July, Ryan Lochte showed his Twitter followers proper swim technique, while sitting at a table full of food without his shirt on. Swim nation joined in, posting images of their streamlines in different settings.

Things Mutaz Barshim Could Jump Over

It was a fallow year in track and field. No Olympics. No World Championships. The men’s high jumpers didn’t care, creating compelling competition week-in and week-out on the Diamond League circuit.

The biggest star proved Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and 2013 World Championships silver medalist. At multiple meets, Barshim attempted to break a 21-year-old world record of 2.45m (or a little over 8 feet). He couldn’t clear the height. His consolation prize was the hashtag #thingsbarshimcouldjumpover.


U.S. Olympic legend Karch Kiraly‘s reaction to his women’s team’s World Championship final victory Oct. 12 inspired a hashtag in the volleyball community.

Olympic Year in Review: Winter Sports | Summer Sports | Photos

Olympic Year in Review: Photos

Sochi Olympic bear

OlympicTalk takes a look back at the year in Olympic sports this week. Today, we review 50 memorable images of the year, courtesy AP and Getty.

source: AP
1/5: Lolo Jones and Elana Meyers Taylor react after finishing second in a World Cup bobsled race in Winterberg, Germany.

source: AP
1/21: Norwegian curlers pose in New York.

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2/7: The Olympic rings malfunction at the Sochi Opening Ceremony.
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2/7: Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak light the Sochi Olympic cauldron.

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2/8: Germany’s Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi in the Sochi Olympic team event short dance.
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2/8: Ashley Wagner reacts to her score in the Sochi Olympic team event short program.

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2/11: Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski cover the pairs short program.
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2/11: Shaun White crashes in the Sochi halfpipe final.
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2/13: Yevgeny Plushenko waves to fans after withdrawing from the men’s figure skating event due to a back injury.
Noelle Pikus-Pace
2/14: Noelle Pikus-Pace celebrates her Sochi skeleton silver medal with her family.
Bode Miller
2/16: An emotional Bode Miller is comforted by wife Morgan after winning super-G bronze.
source: AP
2/17: Meryl Davis and Charlie White after winning ice dance gold.

source: AP
2/20: A U.S. shot in the women’s hockey final hits the post of an empty Canadian goal with 90 seconds left.

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2/21: Mikaela Shiffrin after winning the Sochi Olympic slalom.
2/23: The Sochi Olympic bear mascot sheds a tear at the Closing Ceremony.
source: AP
3/15: Ukraine Paralympic cross-country skiers cover their silver medals in Sochi amid the Ukraine-Russia unrest.
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3/16: Mo Farah is helped up after collapsing at the finish of the New York City Half Marathon.
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3/26: Missy Franklin receives the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award from Mark Spitz.
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4/21: Meb Keflezighi wins the Boston Marathon.
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5/5: Shaun White and actress Hayden Panettiere at the Met Gala in New York.
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5/15: Michael Phelps trains wearing a “Rio 2016” swim cap at a meet in Charlotte, N.C.
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6/26: A pregnant Alysia Montano runs the 800m at the U.S. Outdoor Championships.

8/14: France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad removes his shirt before crossing the finish line first in the European Championships steeplechase, for which he would be disqualified.
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8/16: IOC president Thomas Bach and Youth Olympic athletes take selfies at the Opening Ceremony.
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8/20: Fencing at the Youth Olympics.
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8/23: NBA center Marcin Gortat drives Usain Bolt into the National Stadium in Warsaw.

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8/24: Katie Ledecky grimaces after winning the 1500m freestyle in world record time at the Pan Pacific Championships.
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8/28: Dawn Harper-Nelson after winning a 100m hurdles race in Zurich, Switzerland.
September: The late Bob Suter’s jersey hangs in the arena where the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the Miracle on Ice. (Courtesty ORDA/Whiteface Lake Placid)

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9/28: Dennis Kimetto breaks the world record at the Berlin Marathon.
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10/3: Usain Bolt enjoys Oktoberfest in Munich.
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10/5: Brittney Griner stares down Spain’s Laura Nicholls in the FIBA World Championships final.
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10/10: Simone Biles is frightened off the podium by a bee at the World Championships.
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10/21: Oscar Pistorius walks down stairs, out of the court room after being sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison.
10/31: Viktoria Helgesson has a wardrobe malfunction at Skate Canada.
10/31: Viktoria Helgesson has a wardrobe malfunction at Skate Canada.
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11/2: Caroline Wozniacki eats popcorn at a hockey game the night before she runs the New York City Marathon.
11/8: Yuzuru Hanyu after a warm-up collision with another skater at Cup of China.

source: Getty Images
12/3: Ryan Lochte swims in the 200m freestyle final at the World Short Course Championships.

Olympic Year in Review: Winter Sports | Summer Sports