2014 was the year of the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and Team USA’s “Dancing with the Stars” domination. With a year that full it’s hard to remember everything that happened. So to help refresh your memory, here’s the top 14 most read TeamUSA.org stories of 2014.
In the top story of the year, 1984 Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Mary-Lou Retton talked about her gymnastics career and the girl she called, “the most talented gymnast I’ve ever seen in my life.” That girl was up-and-comer Simone Biles, who at 17 years old was only the second U.S. gymnast to win back-to-back all-around world titles. Biles, who was named the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 2014 Sportswoman of the Year, was also the subject of another popular story on the site, “Simone Biles Steals Gymnastics Show,” about her domination at the P&G Gymnastics Championships in August. Needless to say big things are expected of Biles come the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The announcement of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team was big news and everyone wanted to read up on the 15-member team, but some just wanted to read up on the drama off the ice. Despite many of the nominations being expected, one decision left people confused and wanting to know more. Ashley Wagner was named to the team with a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, over third-place finisher Mirai Nagasu. It was her performances in international competition that helped earn her a spot on her first Olympic team.
It was big news when Team USA announced the athletes headed to the Sochi Winter Olympics. The 230-member team hailed from 38 states, with 20 of them from California. Out of the 105 women and 125 men the oldest was 45-year-old curler Ann Swisshelm and the youngest being 15-year-old freeskier Maggie Voisin (who ended up not being able to compete after fracturing her right fibula). This was the largest athlete delegation for any nation in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.
When we talked to Gabby Douglas this past summer everyone was anxious to know about the gold-medal gymnast’s plans for the future. During our talk with Douglas we learned she had taken some time off from training and was nervous about landing a spot on the national team. Fast-forward five months and in another popular story on TeamUSA.org USA Gymnastics announced that two members of the “Fierce Five” — Douglas and Aly Raisman — were back on the national team and looking toward the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
When Meryl Davis won “Dancing with the Stars” everyone wanted to know more about the Olympic gold-medal ice dancer. In our Q&A with Davis (who was partnered up with Maksim Chmerkovskiy) we talked about her banner year — from her favorite memory from the show to where she kept her Olympic medals. And in one of the most-watched videos, we flew to Los Angeles and followed Davis as she practiced for the TV competition and asked her about the difference between dancing and skating.
NBC Olympics announced in 2013 that it would air an unprecedented 52 hours of coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, and everyone was eager to know more when the dates and times were set. The TV schedule would include 27 hours of live coverage, footage from all five Paralympic winter sports and last the duration of the 11 days of competition. Team USA sent 80 athletes to the Games, and came home with 18 medals.
Five-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Nastia Liukin had a busy year: classes at New York University, a correspondent for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. In this popular article we talked with the former Olympic gymnast on staying involved in the sport and what she had planned for the future. Despite retiring from gymnastics in 2012, the 25-year-old is still busy as ever.
Once you win a medal suddenly everyone knows your name. But for these 25 athletes, we feel like we know their face. In honor of Look-Alike Day (which takes place in April) we matched up some famous Team USA faces with their celebrity look-alikes. In the gallery it’s easy to see how gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas could get mistaken for actress and former model Gabrielle Union. And how six-time Olympic medalist alpine skier Bode Miller is a dead ringer for “Parks and Recreation” actor Chris Pratt. Do you agree with our picks?
Team USA athletes made many appearances on the “Today” show over the course of 2014. However, their appearance in early January was made special by the fact that they were wearing the official Opening Ceremony parade uniforms for the first time. The outfits — which were designed by fashion giant Ralph Lauren — contained a dynamic mix of red, white and navy. All made in the USA and available for purchase online, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition cardigan went to Team USA.
In the video featuring 2014 Paralympic snowboarding bronze medalist Amy Purdy’s journey on “Dancing with the Stars,” the show’s runner-up talked about all the positive feedback she was receiving — and the video was met with matching enthusiasm. Everyone wanted to read about the show’s first Paralympian and double amputee (who was partnered with Derek Hough). Her blog post from the end of 2013 about her various legs (i.e., snowboarding legs, walking legs, etc.) and what it’s like to travel with them is still one of the most read stories on TeamUSA.org. A unique situation — like she says, “How many times have your feet arrived in the mail?”
When Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, enters the pool everyone watches. Unfortunately for the swimmer, the world was also watching when he was charged in October for driving under the influence, excessive speed and crossing double lane lines. Phelps' second DUI in 10 years, the incident resulted in a six-month suspension from the sport as well as withdrawal from the 2015 World Championships. Phelps also entered a six-week treatment program. All of this came less than six months after we wrote about Phelps’ announcement that he was returning to the pool and a run for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games was not out of the question.
When it came to the Sochi Winter Games, lots of Team USA athletes had their loved ones in Russia cheering them on. But for at least two U.S. Olympians, their loved ones were there with the competition. We asked bobsledder Jamie Greubel (who ended up winning a bronze medal) about her fiancé, German bobsledder Christian Poser and biathlete Tim Burke about his girlfriend of six years, German biathlete Andrea Henkel. Both Olympians shared their love story and what they had planned for Valentine’s Day, which fell in the middle of the Games. Update: Greubel married Poser earlier this fall while Burke and Henkel tied the knot at the end of October. Congrats!
The names of the six drivers and nine push athletes who were headed to Sochi to compete in the Games was a widely read story. Not only was it big news because two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones had made the team, but she wasn’t the only summer athlete headed to Sochi. Lauryn Williams, a three-time Olympic sprinter and 2012 400-meter relay Olympic gold medalist had also qualified. She would go on to become the first American woman to win a medal in both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games after she took home silver in Sochi.
It would be easy to assume that athletes don’t eat junk food. But you would be wrong. In honor of another strange holiday — No Diet Day — we asked 12 Olympians to dish on their favorite dishes. Many admitted to cheating with juicy hamburgers, like 2012 Olympic rhythmic gymnast Julie Zetlin and 2008 water polo silver medalist Merrill Moses. But it turned out that most of them had a major sweet tooth. Seven-time gymnastics medalist Shannon Miller admitted to having a love affair with chocolate chip cookie dough, and 2014 luge bronze medalist Erin Hamlin revealed her ability to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. Wonder if cutting out the sweets is on anyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions?