Memorable moments from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which closed on Sunday:
– Pooh corner –
A blizzard of Winnie the Pooh soft toys rained down on the Gangneung Ice Arena after Yuzuru Hanyu’s breathtaking winning performance in the men’s figure skating. The 23-year-old’s army of fans have taken to greeting every performance by showering him with his favourite bear, and they did not disappoint — although for reasons related to sponsors’ rights, Hanyu was unable to take his favoured Winnie The Pooh tissue box with him into the “kiss and cry” area.
– Bobble-hat beauties –
In line with an apparent thaw in inter-Korean relations and as part of a charm offensive from the North, Pyongyang despatched its famed, 200-strong “army of beauties” cheerleaders on the Winter Games. Decked out in red tracksuits and woolly bobble hats, they clapped and chanted in perfect unison and serenaded besotted local fans with tender love songs watched closely by North Korean minders — while North Korea’s athletes battled gamely, generally at the back of the field.
– Chloe Kim –
Still pining after the retirement of figure skate queen Kim Yuna, South Koreans adopted a new sporting superstar at the Pyeongchang Games — the only catch being she’s American. Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old snowboarding phenom with Korean parents who shreds to Lady Gaga tracks, melted hearts as she swept to halfpipe gold, roared on by locals chanting her name. Full-on Chloe-mania and, for a few days at least, the American Kim was the face of the Games.
– Czech ‘Snow Queen’ –
If Chloe Kim was week one’s pin-up girl, Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka quickly became the story with her astonishing alpine skiing gold in the super-G. The 22-year-old adrenaline junkie, who has been christened a “miracle on snow” by Czech media, completed a historic double when, as expected, she won snowboard’s parallel giant slalom to become the first woman to win gold medals in different sports at the same Winter Games.
– Topless Tongan –
Tongan hunk Pita Taufatofua raised pulses when he peeled off for the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics. When he did it again as temperatures plunged to minus-20 at the Pyeongchang opening many thought he was quite mad. Glistening in coconut oil and dressed in only a traditional ta’ovala mat around his waist the 34-year-old beefcake once more set social media ablaze. In an added bonus he also avoided the wooden spoon in the 15km freestyle cross country, finishing 114th — almost 23 minutes behind the gold medallist. And as a final twist, he stripped off and greased himself up again for the closing ceremony.
– Shaun is White-hot –
Snowboarding legend Shaun White produced a jaw-dropping final run to win his third Olympic halfpipe title in one of the clutch performances of the Games. Asked serious questions by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, White went for broke on the final run and was a hair’s breadth from a nasty wipeout on every one of his high-risk tricks. When his score flashed up White hurled his board away and celebrated with abandon, having finally exorcised the demons from his failure to win a medal in Sochi.
– Wardrobe malfunction –
Gold-medal contender Gabriella Papadakis was left in tears after an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction cost her and ice dance partner Guillaume Cizeron the Olympic title. The mishap happened when she leaned backwards early on in the routine and Cizeron inadvertently unclipped the back of her costume, briefly exposing her chest. The pair bravely skated on but she left the ice sobbing. Canada went on to claim gold with the French pair taking silver.
– Shiffrin gets the shakes –
American ski star Mikaela Shiffrin started her quest for multiple gold medals with a bang by winning the giant slalom but quickly hit a wall in the slalom where she was defending the Olympic title she won in Sochi. She vomited with nerves at the start gate and failed to medal, coming home in fourth. She bounced back to win silver in the women’s combined event but finished the Games distinctly at even-par after failing to live up to the hype.
– Garlic Girls add spice –
Five girl-next-door types who go by the names Pancake, Yogurt, Cookie, Steak and Sunny proved an unlikely hit as the South Korean curlers went on an improbable run to the women’s gold medal match. Their success in the mysterious ancient pursuit trigged curling fever in South Korea as fans flocked to see the team dubbed the “Garlic Girls” — after their hometown of Uiseong, a rural town famous for garlic farming. Their bid for gold ended in glorious failure, however, as they were mashed by the Swedes in the final.
– Last but not least –
Mexico’s German Madrazo was dead last after 15 kilometres (nine miles) of gruelling freestyle cross-country racing, but that did not wipe the beaming smile from his face as he trudged alone to the finish, a Mexican flag proudly in his grasp. He was met at the line by Pita Taufatofua -– the bare-chested Tongan – and held aloft in the air, his flag flapping in the wind and the crowd cheering as if he had won.
Pyeongchang, South Korea | AFP