The 2010 Winter Olympics officially ended Sunday night, capping an up-and-down 17 days of competition in Vancouver. Fourth-Place Medal looks at the 10 most memorable moments of the Games. The mix of positives and negatives suggests that history will regard the Vancouver Olympics as a flawed success.
1. Joannie Rochette skates two days after mother's death. Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette found out her mother died just 60 hours before she was set to take to the ice in the women's figure skating competition. Fighting tears, Rochette skated a nearly-flawless performance last Tuesday night. When her program ended, she cried on the ice as the hometown crowd delivered a rousing ovation. It's a moment that could only happen at the Olympics. Years from now, long after most of the memories from Vancouver have faded, the image of Rochette bending over at the knees in tears will prove to be the most enduring image from these Games.
2. Crosby's OT goal gives Canada a hockey gold. The host nation won 14 golds in Vancouver, but only one of them truly mattered. Some are already calling Sunday's gold medal hockey game between Canada and the United State one of the best games the sport has ever seen.
3. The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Tragedy struck Vancouver hours before the Games were set to begin. A Georgian luger was killed during a practice run, sparking a debate about athlete safety and whether the IOC was pushing the "swifter, higher stronger" motto too far.
4. Lysacek outduels Pluschenko for figure skating gold. The Russian still insists his was the better performance, but everyone watching knew that Lysacek's long program was deserving of gold. The 24-year-old Illinois native became the first American man to win gold since Brian Boitano in 1988.
5. Vonn and Mancuso's spat. The two most decorated American skiers in history won a combined four medals in Vancouver, including a surprise 1-2 finish in the downhill, yet it was an on-course spat that provided the pair's most memorable moment of the Games. With skiers going off every minute from the gate, Mancuso unknowingly began while Vonn, who skied the previous run, was receiving medical attention following a crash. Mancuso's great start was negated and she had to race later in the competition when course conditions had worsened. She finished 18th in that run, cried at the bottom of the hill, used her Twitter account to complain about getting flagged and rekindled the debate about how frosty the relationship is between the rivals.
6. Korean wipeout leads to American medals. There was nothing between three South Korean short-track speedskaters and a clean sweep in the men's 1,500-meters final. Nothing except themselves, that is. Two Korean skaters tripped each other meters from the finish line, opening the door for two Americans, Apolo Anton Ohno and J.R. Celski to sneak onto the podium.
7. Sven Kramer's gaffe. Speedskating's biggest star made one of the biggest mistakes in the sport's history when he failed to switch lanes during the 10,000-meters race and was disqualfied. Kramer's coach had erroneously told him to stay in the same lane on the 17th of 25 laps. The Dutch superstar had dominated the field, winning by four seconds and setting an Olympic record.
8. Kim Yu-Na flirts with perfection. There's no such thing as a perfect score in figure skating. If there were, South Korea's Kim Yu-Na would have been close to it in Thursday's long program. Some say it was the best skated Olympics ever. And Kim Yu-Na was well above above the rest.
9. The broken cauldron. Vancouver's Olympics began with a thud. Four torchbearers were to light four intertwining cauldrons at the end of the Opening Ceremony, but one of the torches failed to rise from the ground as planned. It was a major embarrassment for organizers. Awesomly, the Canadians opened Sunday's Closing Ceremony with a self-depricating acknowledgement of the gaffe. A mime "fixed" the broken arm and then spurned torchbearer Catriona Lemay Doan lit the cauldron that had eluded her 17 days before.
10. U.S. becomes nordic combined powerhouse. Never before had an American won a medal in the Nordic combined events. In Vancouver, the red, white and blue brought home four. Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane went 1-2 in the long hill competition and the relay team earned a silver.
- Joannie Rochette