USA Struggling in PyeongChang

Photo Credit: ttonl

Wyatt Cushman, Staff Writer |

For the last few weeks, the Winter Olympics have been taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea. They began over two weeks ago, with the first events commencing on February 7. The games will ultimately conclude on February 25. During the games we have seen records broken and Gold medals won, although we haven’t seen the United States dominate, something we have become accustomed to in the last several Olympic games.

As of February 20, the United States had won a total of 11 medals: five Gold, three Silver, and three Bronze. Team USA is fifth in the standings, 17 medals behind the lead country Norway, which has 28. The U.S. is currently on pace to win its fewest number of medals in a single Olympics since it won 13 in the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. This drop off in production for Team USA has caused some people to ask if the clear advantage the United States used to have in the Olympics is suddenly gone, and why that is.

In recent Olympics, the United States has typically been at or near the top of the medal standings at this point in the competition. In the 2014 Sochi Games, they came in second place in total medals, falling only five medals behind “top dog” Russia. The games prior to that, in Vancouver in 2010, the United States topped all countries in total medals with 36, the next closest country being Germany with 29. By looking at just the last two Winter Olympics, we see that the United States is nowhere near the level they normally are. While this drop off in productivity is certainly noticeable to anyone who is following these Olympic games, it shouldn’t be the main focus as the games come to a close.

Some say this drop off should come with some concern, others will say we shouldn’t focus on how many medals we win, but instead celebrating those who have won. In these Olympics, we’ve seen 17-year-old Chloe Kim win gold in the women’s halfpipe, dominating all her opponents in the process. It’s impressive when anyone wins a Gold medal, but to do it at just 17 years old is incredible. We also witnessed snowboarding legend Shaun White capture his third career Olympic Gold medal, which was the hundreth overall for the United States in their Winter Olympic history. Like Kim, White won the Gold in the halfpipe, but he is a veteran, and he cemented his legacy as one of the best in the sport of snowboarding.

So, let us not look at the fact that the United States isn’t dominating these games like we sometimes do, and instead celebrate the many achievements we have already and will soon accomplish. Every athlete competing in the Olympics has worked hard to get to this point, and even if no more medals are won, that shouldn’t be reason for people to be upset.

If you haven’t already watched some of this year’s Olympics, turn on your television and check them out. These are the best athletes in the world competing at the highest level of competition. Once you start watching, you won’t want to stop. Good luck to everyone in PyeongChang who has yet to compete, and a job well done to all that have.

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