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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.

We just got down from the Olympic Village ER where Heidi was taken to after a bad fall in her training run prior to…

Posted by Mike Kloser on Thursday, February 6, 2014

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.

#Streamlining

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.

#Karching

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

Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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