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  1. Fireworks and confetti kick off the closing ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia Feb. 28.

    Catch the latest news, results, video from Vancouver exclusively on NBCOlympics.com. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Canada's Sidney Crosby (87) is congratulated by Drew Doughty (8) and Chris Pronger (20) after Crosby scored the game-winning goal in the overtime period of a men's gold medal ice hockey game against USA. (Chris O'meara / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. USA's Erika Lawler watches the scoreboard during the medal ceremony after Canada beat USA 2-0 to win the women's gold medal ice hockey game. (Gene J. Puskar / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gold medalist, China's Meng Wang (L) celebrates with her country flag and compatriot China's Yang Zhou at the end of the Ladies' 1000 m short-track final at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.. (Yuri Kadobnov / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. France's Ted Piccard (2nd R) and Daron Rahlves (R) of the US collide during the 1/8 final race during the Men's Freestyle Ski Cross. (Adrian Dennis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. John Morris and Ben Hebert of Canada celebrate after winning the gold medal against Norway after the Curling Men's Gold medal game. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. France's Thibaut Fauconnet, center, and Germany's Tyson Heung, left, crash out as USA's Apolo Anton Ohno, right, takes evasive action during the second race of the men's 500m quarterfinals short track skating competition. (Ivan Sekretarev / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo react after performing their pair's free program during the figure skating competition. Shen and Zhao won gold. (Amy Sancetta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Canada forward Jayna Hefford (16) scores a goal against Slovakia goalie Zuzana Tomcikova, left, in the second period of a preliminary round women's ice hockey game. Also defending for Slovakia is Petra Orszaghova, center. Canada beat Slovakia 18-0. (Bruce Bennett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. USA's Bobby Ryan, center, celebrates after scoring against Switzerland goalie Jonas Hiller, left, during a men's ice hockey preliminary game. (Matt Slocum / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. USA's Tony Benshoof competes in the men's Luge Singles run at Whistler Sliding Center. (Oliver Lang / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Lindsey Vonn of the United States speeds down the course during the women's super-G on Saturday, Feb. 20. She won the bronze medal, adding to her gold in the women's downhill and boosting the total number of medals won by the U.S. alpine team to seven. (Charlie Krupa / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Russia's Alexander Tretyakov hits the padding at the end of his second heat in the men's skeleton event. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. (L-R) Shaun White of the United States reacts with fellow American Scott Lago after White wins the gold medal and Lago the bronze in the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe. White won the gold medal with a score in his previous run and performed his much anticipated Double McTwist during a victory lap. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Sweden's Anja Paerson crashes near the finish of the Women's downhill. (Gero Breloer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Curtis Tomasevicz, center, celebrates with his Team USA teammates, left to right, Steve Mesler, Justin Olsen, and driver Steven Holcomb after winning a gold medal in the four-man bobsled competition. (Jeff Mcintosh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Switzerland's Anais Morand and Antoine Dorsaz perform their pairs free program during the figure skating competition. (Ivan Sekretarev / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Bode Miller of the USA during the Men's Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom. Miller skied out and was disqualified. (Francis Bompard/agence Zoom / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Dutch coach Gerard Kemkers, left, encourages Netherland's Sven Kramer, right, during the men's 10,000 meter speed skating race. Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea won a stunning gold medal in men's 10,000-meter speed skating Tuesday when overwhelming favorite Sven Kramer made an amateurish mistake, failing to switch lanes just past the midway point of the race, and was disqualified. (Chris Carlson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Slovakia's Veronika Sabolova takes her second run during the women's singles luge. (Tony Gentile / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Magdalena Neuner of Germany celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's Biathlon 10km Pursuit. (Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Shannon Bahrke of the US sticks her tongue out while jumping the second ramp during the Women's Moguls Freestyle Skiing Final at Cypress Mountain. (Adrian Dennis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Japanese speed skaters train for the team pursuit at the Richmond Olympic Oval. (Kevin Frayer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. South Korea's Kim Yu-Na begins to cry after performing in the women's free skating figure skating event. Yu-Na won the gold medal. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada celebrate after receiving their gold medal scores for the free dance portion of the Ice Dance competition. (Jasper Juinen / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. The sled belonging to Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia is seen just after he crashed during a training run for the men's singles luge. (Michael Sohn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. (L to R) Haley Irwin #21 and Meghan Agosta #2 of Canada lie on the ice and celebrate winning the gold medal with a beer and a cigar following their team's 2-0 victory during the ice hockey women's gold medal game between Canada and USA. (Alex Livesey / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A snowboarder flies thru the Olympic Rings during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at BC Place.

    Catch the latest news, results, video from Vancouver exclusively on NBCOlympics.com. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image:Vancouver 2010 Olympics
    Gerry Broome / AP
    Above: Slideshow (28) Best Emotional Moments - Top images
  2. Image: Vancouver 2010 Olympics
    Streeter Lecka / Getty Images
    Slideshow (16) Best Emotional Moments - Day 17
  3. Image: Vancouver 2010 Olympics
    Molly Riley / Reuters
    Slideshow (17) Best Emotional Moments - Day 16
  4. Image: Vancouver 2010 Olympics
    Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
    Slideshow (18) Best Emotional Moments - Day 15
  5. Image: Vancouver 2010 Olympics
    Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
    Slideshow (23) Best Emotional Moments - Day 14
updated 2/18/2010 2:16:37 PM ET 2010-02-18T19:16:37

Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White and Shani Davis are the true American idols.

With the trio leading a record haul of six medals for the Americans, NBC's telecast of the Olympics clobbered Fox's "American Idol" in television ratings Wednesday night.

During the hour that the two shows went head-to-head, the Olympics were seen by 30.1 million people while 18.4 million watched "American Idol," the Nielsen Co. said.

It was the first time any show has beaten "American Idol" since May 2004, when a special Monday edition was topped by NBC's "Fear Factor." With the exception of one "Idol Gives Back" special in 2008, it was the least-seen episode of "American Idol" since 2003.

Even before the Olympics started, NBC was referring to the night as its "white hot Wednesday." The network heavily promoted Vonn, White and Davis leading to the games, and each won a gold medal.

Still, it was a startling turnaround from just the night before, when "Idol" beat the Olympics by nearly 4 million viewers.

"If anything, it's a testimony to the power of network television," said Marc Berman, an analyst for Media Week. "You had two shows in one hour reaching about 50 million people."

Slideshow: ‘American Idol’s’ top 24 Fox had no comment on the ratings, although its executives pointed out privately that 18 million viewers still puts it in the top tier of entertainment programs broadcast this year.

"This is very good news for NBC," Berman said. "Anyone who may think that 'American Idol' is in trouble, it's not in trouble. It faced the Olympics."

Both Davis and White competed live on television in East Coast time zones. It was the first competition in the games for White, a star who transcends his sport of halfpipe. NBC whetted viewers' appetites by showing him in preliminary competition just as NBC's prime-time show began Wednesday.

Vonn's downhill was earlier in the day, and NBC withheld it until prime time. Berman said he believed knowledge of her victory had spread, bringing more viewers to see the highlights in prime time. It was a best-case scenario for NBC, which worried as the Olympics were starting that a shin injury would keep Vonn from the competition altogether.

For all of prime time, NBC's Olympics competition was seen by 29.4 million people, Nielsen said. The corresponding Wednesday four years ago in Turin, Italy, brought 17.8 million viewers to NBC.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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