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2022 Winter Olympics

5 Moments in Winter Olympics History No One Saw Coming

As the Winter Olympics get underway, we can only hope that something as exciting as these iconic moments happen over the next two weeks.

The Winter Olympics 2022 officially kicked off on Friday, and there have been plenty of exciting moments so far — from Team USA clinching its first medal this year in women's slopestyle snowboarding to Russian figure skater Kamila Valiyeva becoming the first woman to land a quad jump in an Olympic competition.

As you wait for the next time Olympics history is made, revisit these iconic moments from Winter Games past.

Apolo Ohno and Steven Bradbury

Speed skater Apolo Ohno, co-host of NBCLX podcast My New Favorite Olympian, was on his way to winning a race at the Winter Olympics in 2002 when he fell and cut his leg. Someone else took gold, and luckily Ohno survived with only a cut to tell the tale to NBCLX storyteller Ngozi Ekeledo.

Back in 2002, Apolo Ohno, co-host of NBCLX's My New Favorite Olympian podcast, was leading the final of the men’s short-track 1,000-meter race when, with just meters to go, he and the other three athletes contending for medals all crashed, allowing the fifth place skater, Steven Bradbury of Australia, who was well behind the lead pack, to skate in alone for the gold medal.

It was Australia’s first ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics, and Bradbury had only made the semifinal when three skaters in front of him had crashed.

"In my very first Olympic final, I was dominating a race. I was mere seconds away from winning my first gold when, at the snap of a finger, an athlete crashed into me," Ohno recalled to NBCLX storyteller Ngozi Ekeledo. "We all crashed, and I actually stabbed my own left leg with my own skate blade."

Skating legend Eric Heiden ended up helping Ohno get stitched up in a "pretty surreal moment," Ohno said. "As someone who looked up to him as this superhero, and for him to look at me and smile and say, 'That was an incredible race. You still have more to go, keep going,' that was a cool, behind-the-scenes moment that wasn't captured on camera."

2018 U.S. Men’s Curling Team

The U.S. was 2-4 after six games in PyeongChang, at which point John Shuster’s Olympic record as a skipper was 6-18. On the brink of elimination, the U.S. men's curling team won five straight games to claim gold. The U.S. men were 0-7 all-time against Team Canada at the Olympics but then beat them twice, once to help advance to the medal round and then again in the semifinals.

Miracle on Ice

Considered by some to be the biggest upset in sports history, the United States men’s hockey team, comprised of young college players, stunned the overwhelmingly favored USSR 4-3 en route to winning the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. The USSR had outscored the U.S. 117-26 in games over the past 20 years and had just defeated them 10-3 at Madison Square Garden one week before the Olympics. 

Ester Ledecka's two golds

In 2018, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic became the first person to win two gold medals using two different sets of equipment at a Winter Olympics. She came in first in both the super-G in alpine skiing and the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding. She was considered the favorite in the parallel giant slalom but had never finished higher than 19th in alpine skiing’s super-G.

But when she finished the latter event, she clinched the gold by .01 seconds, defeating the defending Olympic champ, Austria’s Anna Veith. After finishing the race, she thought to herself, "Is this a kind of mistake?” she told AP at the time.

U.S. alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht 

Andrew Weibrachet had never been on a World Cup podium when he won a bronze medal in the super-G in Vancouver in 2010. Four years later, he won a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics, still without ever having been on a World Cup podium.