Two Monday flights from Munich and Frankfurt to Chicago held precious cargo. Among their passengers were several members of Team USA, including some local athletes, with their medals in tow.
Arriving at O'Hare International Airport at 3:15 p.m. were Chicagoans Aly Dudek (short-track speed skater) and Ann Swisshelm (curling), neither of whom medaled in their respective competitions.
Two gold medalists were aboard the flight -- California freestyle skier Maddie Bowman and Nevada freestyle skier David Wise. Not only did they clinch the first-place spots on the podium, but they were the first ever to do so since the sport premiered at this year's Games.
They joined bronze medal-winning snowboarder Alex Deibold from Colorado, part of the group the skiers and snowboarders that redeemed Team USA in the medal count.
Diebold accompanied the snowboard team as a wax technician in 2010, but he's come a long way since.
"This time around, to be an athlete, and get to be there with all my teammates was pretty unreal," Diebold said.
Texas's Jordan Malone, New Jersey's Chris Creveling and Miami's Eduardo Alvarez, three members of the silver-winning men's short-track speed skating team, were also on the flight.
"It was epic. It was unbelievable, especially the opening ceremonies to start it off. It's been really incredible to be a part of the Olympic Games, the movement," Alvarex said. "It feels real nice to bring some hardware back for the U.S., cuz we were struggling individually, but it's alright, we didn't come home empty-handed and I am not letting go of this bag."
Most of the Midwest-based men's curling team, including coach Tim Muller, were aboard as well, along with women's curler Erika Brown, whose brother was an alternate on the men's team.
Bronze medal winning figure skater Jason Brown from Highland Park took an earlier flight and is already back home amidst his growing local fan club. Meanwhile Michigan ice dancing duo Meryl Davis and Charlie White won't be home for a little while yet. They are heading from Sochi to Moscow to New york for publicity events before they arrive home to decide their next move together.