Vermonter Hannah Kearney hoped to be the first freeskier in Olympic history to win two gold medals. She won gold in Vancouver, but got a bronze in Sochi. And when things didn't go the way she had hoped, she vented the way many people do these days: through social media.
She tweeted "Bronze feels a lot like a broken heart." And it fired up fans and foes.
"For a lot of people social media is real time right now. And this is how I am feeling. So that's the draw for all of us in watching our athletes use social, because we get to get an inside look, a fast reaction somebody has," said Elaine Young, a professor of marketing at Champlain College in Burlington.
Kearney caught some serious backlash for tweeting her candid feelings. People referred to her as bratty, whiny and a sore loser:
Kevin Zegers þ@KevinZegers Feb 9 #HannahKearney is a sore loser
Mike @CHIROPOLOS Feb 11 #Sochi: #BronzeIsBeautiful. Here's to #JulieMancuso in the combined: true spirit of the games. As for #HannahKearney: grow up & get over it
Judy Christie @judypchristie Feb 10 #JuliaMancuso rejoices at bronze. #HannahKearney cries at bronze. Fascinating how perspectives vary. Both fine athletes. #Olympics2014
There's a flip side however.
"For athletes that are trying to be the best in the world, particularly at an event like this, it's like of course she was disappointed," Barbara Ann Cochran said.
Athletes competing at this level are under an immense amount of pressure. Former Olympic gold medalist Cochran knows this all too well. She now runs a coaching a consulting program for athletes, coaches and parents of athletes to help prepare them both mentally and physically to perform at the top level. She sympathizes with Kearney and thinks the backlash was a bit much.
"There's so much attention that goes to the Olympics and worldwide, to win an Olympic gold medal, is something that the pressure is entirely different," Cochran said.
Kearney used social media again to respond to critics and fans alike, this time speaking out on Facebook.
She writes, "I believe that everyone has a right to their true feelings and opinions, but I certainly don't mean to be ungrateful. I may have been devastated in the moment, but I am thrilled to be at the Olympics and proud to be bringing home a medal for my country."