SOCHI, Russia -- A lot can happen during an Olympics. So what stood out in Sochi? Our ESPN staff weighs in with its most memorable moments:
My favorite moment from these Olympics was in the mixed zone when Jeremy Abbott delivered his most impressive performance.
I like Abbott, who is open, honest and probably a little too emotional. He cried after a performance in the 2010 Vancouver Games and also after a winning performance at U.S. nationals last month. He fell in the team competition and talked about how that performance prepared him for the men's competition.
He later fell again in the short program, spectacularly so, falling face first and crashing into the boards. He hurt so much that he barely got up. But he did and finished his routine. Despite a bruise over most of his right side, he skated the next night as well. Asked whether people who said he choked in the big moment were accurate, Abbott turned to the U.S. press officer and said, "You're not going to like this."
Then he said, "I would just want to put my middle finger in the air and say a big F-you to everyone who has ever said that to me because they have never stood in my shoes. They have never had to do what I have to do."
He's right. Most of us covering the Olympics do not know what it's like to perform under such pressure after so many years of training. But all that preparation, pressure and sacrifice is what makes those performances so compelling that we are drawn to watch every four years.
The event that will stick with me when I leave Sochi is without question the women's gold-medal hockey match between the United States and Canada.
The Americans were up 2-0 with a mere 3:26 standing in the way of their first Olympic gold since 1998. But after a bad redirect off a defender's knee and an open-net shot that clinked off the post, a hungry Canadian team had the break it needed in an eventual 3-2 overtime win.
I'll remember frantically rewriting my quick turnaround story before overtime. I'll remember the pain on the faces of the teary-eyed, stunned Americans during postgame interviews. I'll remember the words of colleague and former U.S. soccer star Julie Foudy, who lost similarly to Norway in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She said the sting never goes away. And I'll remember bumping into U.S. coach Katey Stone a few nights after the game and sensing she simply wasn't the same person.
In the days leading up to the final, Stone and the U.S. women were beaming with confidence. In their minds, they had done everything they possibly could to win gold. You could see it in their eyes. And yet, the sometimes cruel fate of sports intersected with those dreams. It was a reminder that nothing is ever guaranteed.