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03rd Feb 2022

The biggest WTF moments in Winter Olympics history

Callum Boyle

It wouldn’t be a sporting event without some iconic moments

The Winter Olympics is home to a variety of jaw-dropping moments. Watching underdog nations claim gold in their event, the thrill of the bobsleigh and of course, our bizarre – yet beautiful – love for the curling.

Here at JOE, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best, bizarre and controversial moments over the years ahead of the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 4.

The Jamaican Bobsleigh Team – 1988

Without doubt, one of the most famous and iconic moments in Winter Olympics history is the brilliant story of the Jamaican bobsleigh Team.

Created by two Jamaican businessmen, who saw a pushcart racing competition and were inspired, teammates Dudley Stokes and Michael White formed an inexperienced team who had to borrow equipment to compete.

Finishing 30th, they also competed in the four-man bobsled event, but unfortunately crashed. However, their efforts captured the hearts of the world – so much so that it inspired the hit 1993 film Cool Runnings.

Nancy Kerrigan’s comeback – 1994

The build up to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway provided one of the biggest scandals of all time.

In the run-up to the event, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a hitman after she was clubbed in the back of the knee. It was then later revealed that a direct rival for a medal was involved, with Tonya Harding’s ex-husband responsible for hiring the hitman.

As a result, all eyes were on Kerrigan and Harding as their rivalry intensified but despite suffering the attack, the Massachusetts-born Kerrigan recovered to win the silver medal while Harding could only finish eighth.

Eddie the Eagle – 1988

For those not old enough, Eddie the Eagle really did happen and wasn’t just a film based on fictional events.

After missing out on a spot for the Team GB team in 1984, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards made the decision to move away from downhill skiing and try his luck at ski jumping.

Although largely unsuccessful, a lack of competition for places meant Edwards was awarded a place on the team for the ’88 Games in Calgary.

His performance was nothing to shout about – he came last by some margin in both events, and was subjected to sarcastic cheers from spectators – yet became a phenomenon around the world.

Steven Bradbury’s last-second Olympic victory – 2002

Steven Bradbury made history for Australia at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City as he won the nation’s first-ever gold medal, competing in the 1000m men’s speed skating final.

With seconds to go Bradbury was chasing the pack in last place  but on the very last corner, two of the leading skaters crashed into each other – subsequently everyone else to fall

As the only one standing, Bradbury cruised past the opposition on the floor and took home the historic gold.

Gold medal controversy – 1998

For the first time in the Winter Olympics, snowboarding was introduced at the Nagano 1998 Games in a bid to attract a younger audience to watch the competition.

Canadian Ross Rebagliati would go on to become the inaugural winner of the first snowboarding event however three days later, was stripped of his medal after he tested positive for marijuana, only to be reinstated following a successful appeal.

After retiring from the sport, Rebagliati decided to pursue a business venture outside of snowboarding in his second love – becoming the founder of Ross’ Gold: a cannabis business.

Lindsey Jacobellis’ showboating fail – 2006

When you’re on the verge of winning an Olympic gold medal, it’s understandably an exciting moment, but it’s not over until it’s over.

For Lindsey Jacobellis in 2006, she was in that position – except she didn’t keep her cool. With a huge lead over her closest competitor, she quite simply had to just stay on the board.

Instead the confidence got to her and she attempted a rather-exotic move on the second-to-last jump – only for it to go horribly wrong. As a result, she finished second and didn’t feature for Team GB at the following two Olympics’. Sometimes it’s better to keep it simple.

Luge race gets rather heated – 1968

East Germany looked set for a near-clean sweep in the women’s luge event as they finished first, second and fourth, however their competitors were not happy with the outcome of the results.

Rival athletes complained and claimed that they saw the East German athletes warming the blades of their metal runners – an illegal method.

East Germany were then subsequently disqualified from the event leaving Italy to take the gold medal whilst West Germany received the silver and bronze medals.

Shirtless flag bearer – 2018

Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua made headlines during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics for marching around shirtless covered in baby oil and after choosing to compete in the 2018 Games as a cross-country skier – he once again donned the same look.

Despite the cold temperatures, Taufatofua decided to once again bear his chest out in the open (and freezing cold) whilst shouting “I’m waaaaaaarm,” before entering the stadium.

Honestly, we don’t know either. Just put a jacket on.

What kind of a score is that? – 2014

Ashley Wagner arrived at the 2014 Winter Olympics as a figure skater and sadly left as nothing more than a meme.

In her debut Games, the American performed her routine and believed that she had nailed it only to be shocked by the score she received.

Expecting a high score, Wagner was left dismayed when she read on the screen a score of just 63.10 – queuing a priceless expression and one that now has become a meme that will last forever.

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