It was the best of Olympics, it was the worst of Olympics
Posted: Sat February 21, 1998 at 9:59 PM ET
NAGANO, Japan (KRT) -- The last medals have been awarded, the last winner has cried, the last event has been tape-delayed by CBS.
These Games are history, and it's time to look at the highlights, lowlights and sidelights from a successful, unusual, generally low-key Olympics.
Here is our very subjective medal ceremony (minus the flowers, anthems and kimonos):
Gold: Women's figure skating. U.S. girls fight it out for top two spots.
Silver: Men's hockey. Incredible upsets, great action, minimal fighting.
Bronze: Men's 15-kilometer cross-country freestyle pursuit. Thomas Alsgaard catches and passes close friend and neighbor Bjorn Daehlie in the final 200 meters to win, denying Daehlie his record-setting seventh gold medal for the time being. "We fight to be the best skier on our street in Nannestad," Alsgaard said.
Gold: Snowboard halfpipe. Saw this in the Safeway parking lot last month.
Silver: Curling. Did anybody care outside Wisconsin?
Bronze: Ice dancing. Could have had the medal ceremony before the competition began.
Most unusual competitions
Gold: Fifth-floor fire extinguisher toss.
Silver: Skiing schedule shuffleboard.
Bronze: Japanese Transportation Combined (100-meter taxi chase; Late bus relay)
Japanese customs that went over well with foreigners
Gold: Heated toilet seats.
Silver: Cute, tiny, reliable cellular phones.
Bronze: Great service, no tipping.
Japanese customs we never got used to
Gold: Watching them wear doctor masks all day if they had a cold.
Silver: Cab drivers opening rear doors by pressing a button on the dashboard.
Bronze: Bathing naked with strangers in hot springs (by mutual consent, not attempted by 99 percent of U.S. journalists)
Gold: Georg Hackl. OK, it's just luge, but he became just the sixth Winter Olympian to win the same event in three consecutive Games. Plus, we love saying his name.
Silver: Larissa Lazutina. OK, it's just cross-country, but the Russian took home five medals (four in individual events), including two gold.
Bronze: Dominik Hasek. Is this guy for real?
Gold: U.S. men's hockey team (off the ice).
Silver: U.S. men's hockey team (on the ice).
Bronze: Austrian snowboarder Martin Freinademetz, who was tossed out of Japan after trashing furniture and a computer at the team hotel.
Most inspirational moment
Gold: U.S. women's hockey team. After years of finishing second to Canada, Team USA defeats its rival in the one game that matters most.
Silver: Japan's Hiroyasu Shimizu. After he won the 500-meter speed skating race, tears streamed down his face as he looked up at his mother, who was shaking with excitement.
Bronze: Kenyan cross-country skier Philip Boit, utterly exhausted and dead last, crossing the finish line of the 10-kilometer race and collapsing into the arms of Bjorn Daehlie, who had won the event 20 minutes earlier.
Best TV clip
Gold: Hermann Maier taking major air, clearing a guard fence and smashing into another fence in perhaps the most incredible crash in Olympic history.
Silver: Czech Republic goalie Dominik Hasek stopping Canada's Eric Lindros with a whirlybird glove save in the shootout of the semifinals.
Bronze: Masahiko Harada in the long hill individual ski jump, leaping beyond the range of the automatic measuring system. Officials had to measure the distance manually. The huge jump vaulted Harada to the bronze.
Gold: "Not Lufthansa, but OK." -- Hermann Maier on going airborne during his downhill crash.
Silver: "Bronze does not shine as bright as gold, but for me, it shines the most." -- Tomomi Okazaki of Japan after finishing third in the 500-meter speed skating event.
Bronze: "I'm happy. He's happy. Maybe 100 million Indians are happy." - Guenther Lemmerer, coach of 16-year-old luger Shiva Keshavan, the lone member of India's Olympic team, after Keshavan finished 28th in the event.
Gold: "Basically, it does not fit a slow-minded person to be an Olympic athlete." -- Japanese Chef de Mission Yushiro Yagi on athletes' intellect. He later apologized.
Silver: "It's like giving a superpower the atom bomb." - U.S. luge spokesman Sandy Caligiore -- forgetting who the host nation was -- on German gold medalist Georg Hackl's controversial booties.
Bronze: "Everybody knows that through Belarus there is a bigger chance to advance into the semifinals ... theoretically." -- Czech hockey coach Slavomir Lener, trying to make a kick save after dissing a possible opponent.
The crying games
Gold: Japan ski jumper Masahiko Harada, goat of the '94 Games, sobbed after winning individual bronze on the long hill, and later helped his nation win the team event, after which he wept again uncontrollably.
Silver: Canadian figure skating silver medalist Elvis Stojko, who choked up and had trouble controlling his emotions when recounting an inspirational fax he received from a 5-year-old girl.
Bronze: Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, who was asked after the gold medal loss about her injuries. She choked back tears for several moments before revealing in a shaky voice that she was playing with strained ligaments in her knee and a possibly fractured elbow.
Gold: Tara Lipinski outduels Michelle Kwan in near-perfect performances in the figure skating long program.
Silver: Picabo Street overcomes major injuries to win the gold medal in Super G.
Bronze: Women's hockey team wins the first Olympic tournament.
Gold: Five world records fall in speed skating, featuring double gold medal winners Gianni Romme and Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands.
Silver: Austrian Hermann Maier recovers from downhill crash to win two gold medals, proving he's the best Alpine skier in the world.
Bronze: Norway's cross-country relay team gives Bjorn Daehlie his seventh career gold medal -- more than any other Winter Olympian.
Profoundest acts of God
Gold: Snow. Played havoc with the Alpine schedule, which finally got going just before reaching crisis stage.
Silver: Fog. Forced postponements of Alpine skiing and biathlon events.
Bronze: Earthquake. A 5.0 on the Richter scale jolted Nagano on Saturday morning, amusing Californians and Japanese while scaring some. No injuries or damage.
Gold: Snowlet "beanie-baby" style dolls. Plentiful early on, but a huge run -- probably caused by the unexpected Japanese success at the Games -- has made it the most sought-after souvenir. There are virtually none left for sale in the entire city, and no plans to make more.
Silver: The stylish red berets that are part of the Canadian team uniform.
Bronze: NHL team sweaters. There is a tiny NHL store two blocks from Big Hat arena, and lately the Japanese have started lining up a half-hour before it opens to get first crack at the NHL goodies.
Sorry we hyped this
Gold: The quad question. Turns out it didn't matter who did what quad; Ilia Kulik was the best skater hands down, and Todd Eldredge had problems with triples, much less four revolutions.
Silver: Clap skates. The Olympic and world records kept falling, but that's what everybody expected, so how big a deal was it?
Bronze: Alberto Tomba. Time to move on.
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