By Mia Merrill, Sports Editor, A year ago, many of us were huddling around televisions and trying to determine the meaning of “Hot. Cool. Yours.”
The Russian Federation hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in its only city that was not freezing cold in February. Eighty-eight nations sent representatives to the Games, and the host nation ended up garnering the most medals with thirty-three. The United States came in fourth in the medal count, with twenty-eight medals. Many of the US athletes have returned to training, possibly gunning for another Olympic run. Ted Ligety, a three-time Olympic alpine skier, went on to compete in Slovenia and Switzerland after the Olympics. He won the giant slalom discipline in the last competition of the 2014 season. Slalom skiing requires athletes to maneuver between poles as they progress down the slope. Mikaela Shiffrin, an alpine skier, fulfilled the Olympic trope of making the audience feel inadequate. Only eighteen years old in Sochi, Shiffrin became the youngest person to win the gold for the slalom. Shiffrin has gone on to compete and win at competitions in Croatia and Austria, and is in the midst of a successful 2015 season. Ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White have not competed since the Olympics, despite being the all-American sweethearts of the games. Davis did, however, win Dancing with the Stars later in 2014. Sage Kotsenburg, who became the first person to win the new slopestyle snowboarding event at Sochi, has continued his training since the Games. I could tediously name more athletes who have continued or ceased their training since the Olympics, but it may be more important to talk about why athletes are so inclined to resign after the Games. Olympic athletes train their whole lives for their shining moment at the Games—a moment that could end in defeat or even injury. The press exploits the winners once they return home, athletes make endless public appearances and scarcely find time to return to training. The Olympic cycle is a vicious one that robs athletes of their personal lives. It is easy for audiences to criticize athletes who choose not to return to their sport after an Olympics—and for us to wonder why they are throwing their work away. But in the modern sports system, athletes are drained after such high-profile competitive seasons. They must determine whether or not the media attention is worth the grueling training. Of course, many Olympic athletes will not return for the next winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. Intense athletes are not always known for their longevity. But it should be interesting to see who decides to keep training, and to take the Olympic risk yet again.