I've always wished I had been at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 to watch Danny Kass, Ross Powers and JJ Thomas sweep the halfpipe podium, becoming only the second trio of American athletes to do so at the Winter Olympics. That Joss, Gus and Nick did it in their sport's Olympic debut and in the most progressive ski slopestyle contest ever held only sweetened the experience. I was proud to witness it in person. Individually, all three athletes have incredible stories. But together, they were the highlight of my Sochi Olympics.
For hundreds of years, the Finns and Russians have been staring each other down across an 800-mile border, and often not just staring at but killing each other.
During the Winter War of 1939-40, the Finns, outnumbered 3-1 with one tank for every 100 Soviet tanks, held their own. The enmity between these nations, especially the enmity of the Finns for the Russians, is unlike anything we know as Americans.
For the Finnish hockey team, representing a nation of 5 million people, to eliminate the vaunted Russian team, representing a nation of 140 million, at Russia's own Olympics in the sport Finns care about most ... well, that has to be the moment of the Games.
The Finns' elation, their pride in that victory against that opponent, signifies so much about the Olympics. For one night, when Finland wanted and needed it most, its hockey team delivered. Losing in the semifinals against the Swedes, Finland's neighbor on its other border, seemed to be OK with the Finns. After defeating the Russians, they were content.