Sometimes, the Winter Olympics are all about staying positive in the face of adversity.
In the Sochi games that concluded on Sunday, February 23, these five Americans below exemplified that standard, inspiring us while entertaining us with their ebullient personalities and sportsmanship -- even while staring down defeat.
5. Resi Stiegler - Women's Alpine Skiing
She didn't even make it to Vancouver, this daughter of an Austrian alpine skiing legend. She's had five major knee surgeries and two other major surgeries in her career. Yet she has continued to maintain a positive attitude -- and rocked us with a little fashion sense along the way, even making it in ELLE Magazine. So even if her best finish was 29th overall in Sochi, whatevs! Besides, she can look at her dad's Olympic medals on his mantle. And she's only 28, so relax! Maybe her problem was that she didn't rock her furry tiger ears on her helmet -- like she did in Torino.
4. Shaun White - Men's Snowboarding
Snowboarders already have a rep for being "bros" on the slopes -- even after competing against each other for cash and prizes. Or, in this case, the gold medal. So when White -- who came into the half pipe competition as the most sure thing since Secretariat -- had like, an epic meltdown and finished fourth, it would have been a breeze for White to ball up in a cocoon. Instead, White was the first to congratulate his rival I-Pod of Switzerland.
3. Kate Hansen - Women's Luge
Kate may not have won a single medal in Sochi but I guarantee she had you smiling when you saw her dance before she competed. She made Beyonce look good, what WHAT … with her pop-and-lock routine. Of course, it kind of irritated Hansen's coaches -- but that's what made her race prep more hilarious! She couldn't have cared any less about what anyone thought. If that isn't Olympic spirit I don't know what is. And her wolf prank in Sochi with Jimmy Kimmel? Worth more than any stupid medal.
2. Julie Chu - Women's Hockey
After the Americans lost to those dastardly Canadians in such heart-breaking fashion it would have been easier than an empty net goal for the U.S. to fold up shop and complain about losing possibly the most humiliating game in Olympic hockey history. But Chu, a four-time Olympian, lived up to her role as team captain and quickly huddled her team, telling them how proud she was of them -- not easy to do when you were up 2-0 and watched your team lose 3-2 in overtime. For Chu's heroism, she'll get to lead the U.S. contingent into Fisht Stadium on Sunday, February 23 for Closing Ceremonies.
1. Shani Davis - Men's Speed Skating
Out of anyone at these Olympics, Davis had every right to be a surly, whiny brat after losing all four events in which he competed. But here's the thing: instead of being a spoil sport, he was joking around with his Chicagoland-area teammates in the tunnel -- moments after they were eliminated in the team pursuit. Davis came into these Olympics ranked as the No. 1 skater in the 1,000 and 1,500 meters -- yet you never heard him complain about how he performed (quite badly, even by his own Twitter estimation) or place blame on anyone but himself. .
Honorable Mention: Nate Holland, Men's Snowboarding; Justin Reiter, Men's Snowboarding.