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.
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.