SOCHI, Russia -- With nearly 3,000 athletes competing in the XXII Winter Olympics, someone was bound to say something funny. Or clever. Or regretfully stupid.
Emotions and words came pouring out of 10th-place finishers, gold medal winners, skiers who crashed and lugers who lost. And with a 5-to-1 ratio of reporters to athletes and hundreds of media volunteers in the mixed zones, there was almost always a microphone in the vicinity to pick it up.
We pored over thousands of quotes dutifully recorded for posterity by the Olympic News Service. Some of it was silly. Some of it was heart-wrenching. Some of it was profound.
Here is the best of the best:
THE THRILL OF VICTORY (OR COMING CLOSE)
"It's like Disney World for athletes, and I got to meet Mickey Mouse."
--Women's curling gold medalist Kirsten Wall of Canada after meeting Canadian hockey hero Sidney Crosby.
"It's hot. It's cool. And it's (expletive) mine."
--Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland modifies the official Sochi 2014 motto ("Hot. Cool. Yours.") after winning gold in the snowboard halfpipe.
"My girls fought like terrier dogs."
--Cross-country coach Magnar Dalen of Finland is proud of the fighting spirit of his athletes in the skiathlon.
"I think there is a very big chance I will finish last. But the placing is not important if I can teach young people in Nepal about the Olympic spirit. This spirit is in my heart."
--Dachhiri Sherpa of Nepal, a 44-year-old cross country skier who went on to place 86th out of 87 finishers in the 15-kilometer classic.
... AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT
"I know we won silver, but it really just feels like we lost gold."
--Margaretha Sigfridsson, Swedish curling skip, after her team lost to Canada in the women's gold medal match.
"I am probably done in this sport. I don't think this is the sport for me."
--Luger Preston Griffall of the U.S. contemplates cutting his losses after four years of training for the Sochi Games resulted in a 14th-place finish for him and Mathew Mortensen in doubles.
"I'm not satisfied. The silver medalist is the first loser."
--Speedskater Koen Verweij of the Netherlands takes no consolation in the fact that he missed gold in the 1,500 meters by 0.003 seconds.
"I wasn't living up to expectations and had to punish myself."
--U.S. Alpine skier Steven Nyman explains why he cut his long hair.
IF IT WAS EASY, ANYONE COULD DO IT
"Yeah, it's broken. But I guess that's what they're there for."
--Snowboarder Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic, on the state of her helmet following a spectacular crash in the women's slopestyle final.
--"I did an extra run at St. Moritz two weeks ago and crashed and broke my ankle, dislocated my collarbone and knocked myself out. So it wasn't the ideal preparation."
--Skeleton slider Ben Sandford of New Zealand, who came to Sochi in less than top form.
"You can insure yourself up to your eyeballs, but if you don't take risks what's the point? You have to enjoy life."
--Vanessa Vanakorn of Thailand, a professional violinist who has sold more than 10 million records as Vanessa-Mae, on the possibility of injuring her arms in the giant slalom.
"It's still the same. The guy or the girl who is doing more, they get a little bit more. If you train hard, then you are better. Talent is thin, like a piece of paper. The rest is hard work."
--Egon Zimmerman of Austria, the 1964 Olympic downhill champion, on how the core values of competition haven't changed.
"I hurt my man parts really bad. I was really embarrassed to tell people. I quickly ran up to the rooms up there and checked myself. I'm gonna have to get on the ice tonight."
--Snowboarder Scotty James of Australia contemplates an uncomfortable night after taking a spill.
GOLD FOR RUSSIAN HOCKEY? NYET
"It means gold only costs $50 billion."
--Russian forward Alexander Ovechkin, when asked what a gold medal would mean to his country given the cost of the Sochi Games.
--Russian forward Pavel Datsyuk, when asked how he was feeling after practice.
--Datsyuk again, when asked about the knee injury that caused him to miss practice the previous day.
"Well, eat me now. You'll eat me, and I'll be gone."
--Zinetula Bilyaletdinov isn't optimistic about his future as Russia's head coach.
"We wish much luck to all the journalists who will clearly have much joy criticizing us."
--Mikhail Chekanov, Russia's women's coach, following his team's quarterfinal loss to Switzerland.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID
"My strategy is to stop the puck."
--Goaltender Tuukka Rask of Finland, revealing his plan to beat Austria.
"Everything went smoothly until I crashed."
--Ski crosser Sanna Luedi of Switzerland offered a concise analysis of her run.
"Experience, which I do not have yet and which I won't be getting in the short-term future."
--Oskars Kibermanis, pilot of Latvia-2, when asked what he lacks in the four-man bob.
"We have a new system. We are training together."
--Biathlon coach Ondrej Rybar of the Czech Republic, on his team's secret to success.
"I have two hands. I can hold two medals."
--U.S. speedskater Shani Davis saw no reason why he couldn't win the 1,000 meters for a third consecutive Games and also win the 1,500. Alas, he did not medal in either race.
"In the end, I am just a guy wearing spandex that turns left really fast."
--Short-track skater Olivier Jean of Canada on the importance of what he does.
"Wave it high, and don't trip and fall."
--Hayley Wickenheiser, women's hockey player, on the advice she received about being Canada's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
OPEN MOUTH, INSERT SKI
"The first two shots were OK but I felt my knees shaking after that. I was close to stopping, but only girls do that. I am a man. I told myself I can't do that."
--Biathlon 20-kilometer individual silver medalist Erik Lesser of Germany reflects on the men's competition. That's the men's competition. For men.
"I told them three things last night: fight until the end, believe in yourself, believe in your teammates and sparkle out there."
--Team USA cross-country coach Matt Whitcom, on what he told his skiers before the 4 x 5K relay. But isn't that four?
"I've always kind of been the smart guy on the team. I've got a mechanical engineering degree, always been a bit of a nerd. And so I've got a brain painted on my helmet."
--Skeleton racer John Fairbairn of Canada explains the artwork on his helmet.
"Unlike John, apparently I'm a complete idiot."
--Fairbairn's teammate, Eric Neilson, on the demon head design on his helmet.
STUFF YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT THE GAMES
"Once you're in the sled you have to sit still. If one of the guys farts you just want to get to the finish and everyone is yelling and wants to get out of the sled."
--Helvis Lusis of Latvia reveals one of the lesser-known hazards of the four-man bobsled.
"The good thing about doubles is that when you have a bad run, it's always the other guys' fault."
--It's all about teamwork for luger Christian Niccom of the U.S., whose partner is Jayson Terdiman.
"We listen to music, we eat as much as possible and slap each other in the face."
--Bobsledder Andre Matthews of Great Britain reveals his crew's pre-race ritual.
"The main thing is to race over to McDonald's to get an Egg McMuffin before they shut down for the morning."
--Mike Babcock, Canada's men's hockey coach, on the importance of priorities at the Olympics.
"The only difference between us is that I lock the bathroom door and he doesn't."
--Speedskater Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, who shared an apartment in the Olympic Village with teammate Koen Verweij.
IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE ...
"Demchenko has a very fast sled but when we analyzed his performance we knew where his weaknesses were: his age and his athletic ability."
--Former luger Georg Hackl of Germany, now coach of men's singles gold medalist Felix Loch, clearly wasn't worried about the threat posed by silver medalist Albert Demchenko of Russia.
"It's going to take Frank Wells (X Games halfpipe builder) getting on a (expletive) airplane."
--Gregory Bretz of Team USA on how the halfpipe at Rosa Khutor might be improved.
"I'm sorry, who?"
--Snowboarder Crispin Lipscomb of Canada, when asked why Canadian snowboarders were goading Shaun White of the U.S. on Twitter after his withdrawal.
"He hasn't skated for 20 years. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He just wants his face in the paper."
--Speedskater Havard Bokko of Norway suggests countryman and former star Johann Olaf Koss is a bit out of touch after Koss criticized the Norwegians for skipping the 10,000 meters to concentrate on team pursuit.
AND THE MEDALS GO TO ...
Bronze: "You always want what you don't have and that's the one medal in my trophy case that I don't have. So I'm going to be dropping the hammer. And the sickle."
--Snowboarder Nate Holland of the U.S. stakes his claim for glory and shows off his knowledge of Soviet history.
Silver: "Oh, no, it would be too much. Two girls in one room is a mess. If two girls were on a luge, they would pull each other's eyes out."
--Tatyana Ivanova of Russia is not wild about the idea of a women's doubles luge event.
Gold: "As a child there were three horror films he knew from the west. One was "Nightmare on Elm Street," the second was "Friday the 13th" and the third one was "Miracle on Ice."
--The IOC communications director relays Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko's take on how deeply the ice hockey loss to the United States in 1980 is ingrained in the Russian psyche.
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