During every Olympics there are special moments, the type of moments that bring a tear to your eye and maybe make your lip quiver while you try to catch your breath. Your lungs fill with pride and your heart beats twice as fast while you watch your fellow Americans sweat and bleed the red, white and blue.
Here are some examples of those moments in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics:
Team USA Women’s Hockey
In one of the most epic, Mighty Ducks-ian finishes an Olympic hockey game could ever muster, Team USA women pulled out an overtime, shoot-out victory over northern border-rival, Canada.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the winning goal to give Team USA its first Olympic championship in 20 years. In three of the previous four Olympics, the U.S. women lost to Canada in the finals.
“Our mission for our team has been clear since day one,” said Duggan, the team captain. “We wanted to come here and be the best team we could be as Team USA every single game, regardless of opponent. Everyone in this room and everyone in the world knows our history against the opponent we faced [Thursday] night, but it certainly was special for us, based on what we’ve been through.”
“But it was about Team USA [Thursday] night. And when I think about the way we looked at each other on the ice after, the time we spent in the locker room together after the game, the win was about our team, our program, our country and we couldn’t be more proud.”
The pride she refers to comes from years of pin-point focus from a group of women who have been working emphatically for this moment. The team’s win resonated deeper than most and far beyond just the 23 women on the Olympic roster. It also came 38 years to the day since the classic “Miracle on Ice” win by the American men.
The Korean Unified Team
No matter the politics involved, one of the most poignant moments in the opening ceremony was the unification of the North and South Korean athletes entering PyeongChang Olympic Stadium side by side with a common flag.
The unified women’s hockey team was the lightning bolt of the symbol for peace, and quite a symbolic weight at this highly politicized Games. The team didn’t win a single game during competition, and they only scored 2 total goals the entire Olympics.
To the coach, Sarah Murray, who was holding back tears after the last buzzer sounded, the lack of scoring and final results were beside the point.
“For the two teams to be able to combine and have such good chemistry in such a short amount of time with all the media and governments,” Murray told reporters after the game, “it’s pretty remarkable that our players were able to make it work.”
She added: “Today it was a great feeling to feel like maybe the fans that were here cheering for us were really cheering for us. They were cheering for a hockey game and a hockey team, and I really appreciated that.”
The combined team from North and South Korea may have only been for sport, but the hope embodied in that relatively small act could possibly help smooth tensions on the Korean peninsula. Cooperation and compromise made this team a possibility, the hope for Koreans moving forward is that the Olympics will shine a positive light on the possibility for change and peace.
After their last game ended, the Korean team remained on the ice after the Swedish team left. The Korean team stood in a circle in the middle of the rink, the players slammed their sticks onto the ice and the crowd erupted into chants of “We are one!”. And as they skated around the rink to salute the fans, the theme song from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, “Hand in Hand,” played throughout the arena as if it was a message being sung out to anyone who could hear.
Eleven months ago Mark McMorris laid in the snow waiting for a rescue helicopter in the backcountry near Whistler, British Columbia, with a fractured jaw, a ruptured spleen, internal bleeding, multiple broken bones and a collapsed lung.
“I was pretty sure I was going to die”, said McMorris.
The Canadian snowboarder had mis-timed a massive jump, hit a tree in mid-air and came crashing down.
Fast forward to last Sunday, where McMorris stood on the Olympic podium after winning a bronze medal in men’s snowboard slopestyle.
Not only did McMorris literally beat the odds to return to competition after life-threatening injuries. But he and teammate Max Parrot also earned Team Canada its first medals of the PyeongChang games.
In taking silver and bronze respectively, the dynamic duo also made history by giving Canada its first ever double podium showing in an Olympic snowboard event, according to the Canadian Olympic Team.
McMorris has been a magnet for injuries over the years, including breaking his femur in a fall in 2016 and needing a metal rod surgically implanted in his leg.
“I’m glad I pulled through that last injury to be here because this is pretty special,” he told reporters Sunday.
These incredible individuals made viewers pay attention to more than just the sport they were competing in. The attention was bigger than just sport, bigger than just the Olympics, and hopefully we can all take inspiration from them and apply to our own lives.