PYEONGCHANG, South Korea--It's Monday morning, the sun is rising over the Taebaek Mountains, and in four hours I've got to catch a bus that will take me to a train that will take me to a plane that will take me out of this lovely country. My little two-bedroom apartment that's been my home for the last three weeks is packed up; the covers that they wrapped over the appliances and cabinets to keep us filthy media from spoiling it all for the future owners remain intact.
The Olympics are done! And I'm both exhilarated and heartbroken by that. I can only compare covering these Games to the first few weeks of having a new baby in the house--you're exhausted, you lose track of which day leads to which, you can't remember what you did 18 hours ago, and so on. You can't imagine how you're going to get through it, and then you miss it when it's done.
Anyway, a quick roundup. My PyeongChang Olympics, by the numbers:
Days in South Korea: 22
Stories published: 44
Words written: Half a freaking novel
Interviews conducted: Over 100
Venues visited: 7 of 9
Sports watched: Literally everything but figure skating
Shuttle buses taken: Over 100
Security stops: Over 150
Political articles written: 1, with a couple cheap shots in another
Percentage of articles that "talked politics," according to some readers: 150
Beers consumed, American: 0
Beers consumed, Korean: Somewhat more than 0
Visits to Goob'ne Chicken, the best damn roasted chicken on earth: 7+
Bites taken of "Fish Stick," a horrid fish-flavored snack: 1, spat back up
Visits to media cafeteria for breakfast: 17
Visits where I got baked beans, salad, bulgogi, or other weird-ass stuff for breakfast: 0
Toenails lost: 1
Phones, keys, laptop, other important items lost: 0, thank heaven
Gratitude for you, my readers: Boundless
Anyway, let's wrap this up. This is my third dispatch from South Korea; part 1 is right here and part 2 is right here, if you want to go check out some history. And if you're seeing this on the web, click here to subscribe and get it sent right to you. Here we go, the last of the best of what I wrote:
Curling's 'Rejects' are ready to win gold. Loved loved loved this story, four everyday dudes kicked off their curling team try to make a run at the Olympics. How did it end? Come on, how do you think it ended?
For Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, two roads. On choices, challenges, and the inexorable passage of time.
Elise Christie's run of terrible Olympic luck continues. This was an unexpected heartbreaker. Elise Christie, a world-record-holding skater who looks and sounds like she ought to be wearing robes and practicing spells at Hogwarts, has failed to finish in six straight Olympic events. Bad luck hit her again this Games, three times.
Short-track speed-skating relays are glorious chaos. Comparing my new favorite Olympic sport to an old favorite, NASCAR.
Military ties bind, inspire bobsled team. Talked with the Green Beret badasses of the bobsled team. One of the more inspiring assignments of the Games.
Save us, LeBron James. This one didn't come off quite as well as I would have liked; I should've written more of it before I arrived. Ah, well. Sometimes you homer off the upper deck, sometimes you just try to put the ball in play.
North Korean sub near Olympics a solemn reminder. This wasn't a sports story, but it's a fascinating tale of espionage and terror that would make a great movie. And South Korea's decision to put a captured North Korean submarine on display is an eff-you of the highest order.
Behind the scenes: The Mixed Zone. You interested in how the media interviews athletes in the chaos after an event? No? Neither was anyone else, apparently.
PyeongChang bids farewell to the world. The wrapup article, set against the majesty of the Closing Ceremony, where I tried to make sense of the past two weeks and speculate on what might lie ahead.
So there you go! Thanks so much for reading. You're the best. No, really. You are. And if you see the man below, call the authorities immediately.
February 26, 2018