18-year-old U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin is one of the rising stars in the… (Getty Images )
Just like that, it's over. Eighteen days of Olympic competition and coverage have made us cheer (28 U.S. medals), laugh (see: Jimmy Kimmel and Kate Hansen's wolf prank) and cringe (whipping protesters? Really, Russia?). We know it's a long time until the Olympic flame is lit in Rio in 2016. Until then, these snapshots will stick with us.
Six of the United States' nine gold medals (or 66 percent) came from action sports. Shockingly, Shaun White did not figure in that haul. Americans historically have dominated these sports on account of having invented them. Maybe they can invent a few more in time for 2018.
Between Canadians Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook, the Blackhawks have six hockey gold medals in the past two Olympics.
"It's an amazing feeling to be part of a team like that, whether your role was big or small," Toews said of Team Canada. "We were just an amazing team to watch, the way we worked together and the way we were all over [Sweden in the gold medal game Sunday]. It was a fun team to be a part of."
Move over, Lindsey Vonn. Mikaela Shiffrin is the new face of women's skiing in America. The 18-year-old became the youngest to win the slalom, and she might win over even more people with her ambition.
"Right now, I'm dreaming of the next Olympics [and] winning five gold medals, which sounds really crazy," Shiffrin said. "I'm sorry I just admitted that to you all."
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane arrived in Sochi with high expectations after he helped Team USA to a silver medal in 2010. He left these Games with just four assists—and no goals—and a fourth-place finish.
"No excuses—I wasn't good enough to help the team win a medal," Kane said. "… I feel fine—physically fine, mentally fine. Yeah, it's been a tough couple of weeks, but at the same time, no excuses."
There were several notable shutouts at these Games when it comes to American athletes. But none was more shocking than the zero medals won by the U.S. long-track speedskaters. That includes Chicagoan Shani Davis, the top-ranked skater in the world, who finished no higher than eighth in his races.
"I don't think there's any 'Da Vinci Code' in it," Davis said of the team's struggles. "The results speak for themselves and something most likely will happen after the Olympics with whatever, but we'll have to wait to see what happens.
"It's a wakeup call. You can't continue to squeak by getting the results we were getting, then have something like this happen."
The lone U.S. speedstaking medal was a silver in the men's short-track 5,000-meter relay.
The literal underdogs of the Sochi Olympics were the strays who populate the host city. At least six have been rescued by U.S. athletes. And more help is on the way: hockey player David Backes has started an organization to help find shelters for the animals.
"I want for us to be able to give them a chance for a forever home and kind of live in that lap of luxury that a lot of dogs in North America have," Backes said. "If we can do that for a few of them, and give them that little reprieve, it's a great opportunity for those dogs and to maybe show people how we treat our animals, and maybe that could be contagious as well."
Not including the Blackhawks, three Chicago-area athletes seized medals in Sochi. One was 25-year-old bobsledding brakeman Aja Evans, who took bronze with driver Jamie Greubel. And before these Games began, Evans said this might not be her last Winter Olympics.
“If [driver] Elana [Meyers] is still around in 2018, you can definitely look for me again,” Evans said. Meyers took silver in Sochi with brakeman Lauryn Williams.
Also taking home hardware were women’s hockey players and silver medalists Megan Bozek and Kendall Coyne.
Tribune news services contributed to this report.
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