2018 WINTER OLYMPICS
PYEONGCHANGTEAM GB MEDAL WINNERS
|1||17-Feb||Lizzy YARNOLD||Skeleton||Women's event|
|1||16-Feb||Dominic PARSONS||Skeleton||Men's event|
|2||17-Feb||Isabel ATKIN||Freestyle skiing||Women's slopestyle|
|3||17-Feb||Laura DEAS||Skeleton||Women's event|
|4||24-Feb||Billy MORGAN||Snowboarding||Men's big air|
SKELETON racer Lizzy Yarnold became the first ever British athlete to retain a Winter Olympics title in a truly historic Games for Team GB overall.
Yarnold clocked a track record of 51.46 in the fourth and final run to jump from third place into a commanding lead ahead of Janine Flock of Austria and Jacqueline Loelling of Germany.
Flock, under pressure, then floundered on her final run, and she found herself knocked off the podium by consistent Welsh Olympic debutant Laura Deas.
And so, what had begun as a promising morning for Team GB had turned into a seriously momentous occasion for British winter sport.
It was, in fact, easily its best day ever - a Winter Olympics version of Super Saturday.
For, not only did Team GB have its first ever two-time Winter Olympic champion, it could also celebrate a double appearance on the same podium for the first time ever at a Winter Games.
Moreover, Izzy Atkin had won an earlier bronze in the women's freestyle skiing slopestyle, and so 17 February was the first time that Britain had won three Winter Games medals on the same day.
Aged just 19, Atkin was the youngest member of the 59-strong British squad which set off for South Korea.
But, as we also saw from the freestyle skiers and snowboarders of several other countries, her teenage years were no barrier to success.
Instead, it probably assisted her, and she certainly displayed an awesome youthful fearlessness in her last run on which she made her medal-winning score of 84.60.
By then, of course, Britain was already on the board through yet another skeleton medal.
For the first time, though, the winner was male as Dominic Parsons picked up a deserved bronze with his own brilliant demonstration of consistency. In three of his four runs, including the vital last run, 30-year-old Londoner Parsons placed in third.
Sadly, in the curling, the same consistency was lacking, however - as both men and women's teams came away empty-handed.
The inexperienced men's team - under young skip Kyle Smith - was especially skittish, winning five and losing four of their round robin games to be forced into a playoff against Switzerland.
In the playoff, Smith and his men were ultimately outclassed, as the Swiss took a five in the ninth end for a 9-5 victory.
The women - under bronze medal-winning skip Eve Muirhead - fared somewhat better, winning six of their nine group games to qualify for a semi final against Sweden.
However, what had been a tight match against the Swedes turned decisively against Muirhead's rink in the seventh end when she gave up a three despite having the hammer.
Eventually, Team GB lost 10-5 and, for the second Olympics in a row, had been consigned to the bronze final.
That match - against Japan - was an even closer tussle, and in fact went down to the last stone of the final end.
Trailing by one but with the hammer, Muirhead had the chance to make a two to win the match and a medal.
But a single Japanese stone jammed and stuck steadfastly to the button in the centre of the house.
The risky shot was exactly the sort of moment which encapsulates an Olympic campaign - and perhaps, this time, it was just never meant to be.
Clearly, it was not meant to be for short track speed skater Elise Christie either.
For, rather than providing redemption as suggested in my preview blog, Pyeongchang ultimately added to the pain and disappointment she suffered in Sochi four years ago.
Christie herself was not entirely blameless - it does not take a speed skating expert to see that she left herself with far too much to do heading into the last corner in the 1500m semi finals.
But, having already crashed to the ice during the final of the 500m, her tangle of skates with China's Li Jinyu led to an even more painful exit on a stretcher.
Considering that, it was heartening to see Christie still make an attempt at her best event - the 1000m - despite not being fully fit.
Again, though, it all ended in tears after she was penalised in her heat, although the judges' decision on that occasion looked extremely harsh.
Christie subsequently had to contend with some mean-spirited criticism of her performances, much of which was hardly constructive.
But, for a sport in Pyeongchang far more deserving of censure, look no further than the British bobsleigh teams.
Despite suggesting they had two sleds capable of reaching the podium, both British four-man teams completely failed to deliver, finishing way down the field in 17th and 18th.
Earlier, the two-man sled finished 12th - and so the crowdfunded two-woman bob of Mica McNeill and Mica Moore placed highest of all the Team GB entrants, despite them having had their funding cut entirely.
The collective failure in bobsleigh left it uncertain whether Britain could win a record fifth medal at these Games after all.
But, on cue, snowboarder Billy Morgan stepped up and took bronze on his final run with a score of 85.50.
Morgan once again encapsulated the risk-taking required at the Olympics by going for glory with his final jump.
Thankfully, he judged it just right and landed a front-side 1440 triple with mute and tail-grab, something which he had never successfully done in competition before.
Britain - at last - could celebrate a historic fifth medal, and its total of nine in the last two Games is as many as in the nine Winter Olympics before that.
"These athletes can rightly return home very proud of what they accomplished here in South Korea," said Britain's chef de mission Mike Hay.
"To leave Pyeongchang with five medals - our best ever Games in that respect - and a host of fourth-place finishes and top 10s across the sports shows that winter sport in the United Kingdom is going in the right direction," he added.
Away from Team GB, this was an even more glorious Games for Norway who topped the medal table for the first time since 2002 with a record haul of 39 medals, including 14 gold.
Cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen contributed five of those 39 medals, including two gold, as she finished on the podium in each of her five events to become the most decorated Winter Olympian ever.
Nevertheless, the Norwegians have attributed their overall success to their genuine team camaraderie which is reinforced by tacos on a Friday night and a strict “no idiots” rule.
Germany also won 14 gold medals to take second place - and, along with third-placed Canada, won medals across nine different disciplines.
The breadth of their success allowed the Canadians, in particular, to cover for their shock failure to win curling medals of any sort in both the men's and women's events.
Canada also surprisingly struggled in the ice hockey - failing to take gold in either the men's or women's tournaments for the first time since the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.
Instead, the Olympic Athletes from Russia won the men's final, 4-3 in overtime against surprise package Germany. In the women's final, United States beat Canada on penalty shots.
That victory will provide some consolation to the Americans who finished down in fourth in the medal table for the second successive Winter Games.
Indeed, their overall total of 23 medals this time means Pyeongchang 2018 is their weakest performance at the Winter Olympics for 20 years. There were, however, first ever golds in cross-country skiing and in the men's curling.
Elsewhere, snowboarder Shaun White recovered from his disappointment of four years ago in Sochi to deliver gold - while Lindsey Vonn closed off her Olympic career with a bronze in the downhill.
It is perhaps appropriate that Vonn has chosen these Games to be her last. Pyeongchang 2018 has been particularly notable for the way the torch has passed onto a completely new generation of winners.
Snowboarder Chloe Kim took gold in the women’s halfpipe at the age of just 17 - and then there is compatriot and fellow snowboarder Red Gerard who is two months younger than Kim.
Right at the start of the Games, Gerard became the first Winter Olympics medallist to have been born in the 2000s with gold in the men's slopestyle competition.
But it is not just the Americans who are discovering new talent.
New Zealand had only won one Winter Olympics medal before these Games but has now tripled its overall tally to three, thanks to two teenagers.
The Kiwis' two bronze medals were won by Zoi Sadowski-Synnott in the women's snowboarding big air and by Nico Porteous in the men's ski halfpipe.
Porteous, at 16 years 91 days, and Sadowski-Synnott, at 16 years 353 days, thus became the New Zealanders' two youngest ever Olympic medallists in one fell swoop.
Finally, in figure skating, there was a major shock as 15-year-old Alina Zagitova capped her meteoric ascent with an Olympic title in the women's singles.
Zagitova beat compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva to win one of only two gold medals for the Olympic Athletes from Russia team which, regretfully, otherwise remained mired in doping controversy.
Personally, my moment of the 2018 Winter Olympics came courtesy of Ester Ledecká who will now be forever remembered as the skiing snowboarder.
Ledecká, as expected, was victorious at the weekend on her snowboard in the parallel giant slalom.
A week earlier, however, the 22-year-old Czech also won gold in an alpine skiing event, the Super-G, to the total astonishment of everyone including visibly herself.
Incredibly, Ledecká finished 0.01 seconds ahead of the defending Olympic champion Anna Veith, who had already been proclaimed the winner by many media outlets.
And, following her victory in the snowboarding, she became the first ever woman to win gold in two different disciplines at the same Winter Olympics.
Ledecká, more than any other athlete in Pyeongchang, therefore summed up the true glory of all Olympic Games.
Yes, as a magical event in which anything can happen, the Olympics are - and will always be - something which no other sporting competition can match.
MEDAL TABLE Final standings
|4||United States (USA)||9||8||6||23|
|7||South Korea (KOR)||5||8||4||17|
|13||Athletes from Russia (OAR)||2||6||9||17|
|14||Czech Republic (CZE)||2||2||3||7|
|19||Great Britain & NI (GBR)||1||0||4||5|
|26||New Zealand (NZL)||0||0||2||2|