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6 groundbreaking moments from Team USA’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics


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The 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang have officially come to an end, and while it’s sad knowing you won’t be able to turn on the TV and watch your favorite athletes compete for Olympic gold until they head to Tokyo in the summer of 2020, merely remembering all the groundbreaking moments the United States saw this year is a great way to bridge that time.

This past Olympics was huge for Team USA for many reasons—spanning social issues and seriously impressive athletic abilities—and here are just a handful of the many things that will go down in history books.

6 groundbreaking moments from Team USA in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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1. Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel

Anyone who watched Mirai Nagasu compete at this year’s Olympics might have had to lift their jaw off the ground after the figure skater became the first American woman to ever land a triple axel at the Games. And the move is no easy feat: Because it starts while the skater is facing forward, she has to spring into the air and complete 3.5 rotations before landing in order for it to be deemed successful. Only three women have ever successfully completed the move in the history of the Olympics—and Nagasu is now one of them.

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2. Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy became the first openly gay American men at the Winter Olympics

This year marked something pretty special: figure skater Adam Rippon and skier Gus Kenworthy became the first openly gay American men at the Winter Olympics. Because of their openness, those who idolize them might not feel like they have to hide their own sexuality—especially if they’re also athletes.

“I came here to do a job, and I think that being vocal has kind of given my skating more importance,” Rippon told reporters after his performance. “It’s not just for me. I got out there because—it’s not just gay kids, I think that everybody can relate to being different or feeling like they’re not good enough or they’ll never make it because they’re from a small town, or maybe they just don’t feel like they’re good enough.”

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3. Team USA’s women won their first gold medal ever in cross-country skiing

When Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins crossed the finish line, grabbing the first gold medal in cross-country skiing history for Team USA, everyone went wild. After beating out the acclaimed teams from Sweden and Norway, they now have an award American skiers have been striving toward for more than 40 years. (The last time Americans snagged a medal in the sport, it was a silver from Bill Koch of the men’s team in 1976.)

“Hearing it out loud, it still doesn’t feel real,” Randall told The New York Times. “It’s what I’ve been working on for 20 years and with this team for the last five years and, wow, it’s just so fun to put it together tonight, finally.”

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4. US women’s hockey takes home the gold after a long battle with Canada

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the US and Canada’s rivalry over the gold over the past 20 years. Even though Canada always came out on top, that wasn’t the case this year when Team USA competed against the four-time defending Olympic champs. After Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-winning goal in an intense shootout, the Americans came out on top with a 3-2 victory, finally getting to take home gold.

“Our mission for our team has been clear since day one,” team captain Meghan Duggan told USA Today. “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 last night, but it certainly was special for us, based on what we’ve been through.”

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5. Figure skater Nathan Chen completes a record-breaking number of quads

Nathan Chen might not have taken home the gold at this year’s Olympic Games, but he became the official “Quad King” by pulling six quadruple jumps during his free skate routine—the most that’s ever been done during the Games. And considering he’s only 18 years old, this could be just the beginning.

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6. Lindsey Vonn might not have won the gold, but she reached her goal

This year, Lindsey Vonn took home the bonze medal for the women’s alpine downhill race. But, having weathered injury after injury, she’s just thrilled to have made it to the competition in the first place. Vonn has already proved she’s the greatest female ski racer of all time: She just wanted one more experience at the Olympic Games before retiring, and that’s exactly what she got.

“To return to the Olympics was the biggest goal and that’s why I’ve had a smile on my face every day I’ve been in South Korea,” Vonn told The New York Times. “I accomplished what I set out to do.”

This French figure skater’s competition music showed the world who, exactly, run the world. Also, these four sporty Netflix picks will fill you with Olympics spirit.

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