BY DEVON CONWAY
Put on your snow boots and hat, it’s time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea from Feb. 9-25.
The opening ceremony kicked off on Feb. 9 Korean standard time. This year’s ceremony featured a lot more than which country wore the most stylish outfit, but rather focused on politics, punishment and unification. North and South Korea will be competing as a unified team in this year’s Olympics in hopes of mending the hate between the two countries. The Koreans walked out together holding a unified flag, receiving mixed cheers from the crowd.
Another important issue in the opening ceremony was the Russian band. Russian athletes were not able to walk out holding their countries flag as part of their punishment for the state-backed doping program at the Olympics four years ago. The Russian national anthem will also not be played during any medal ceremonies. Despite this, Russia still has a team of over 160 athletes that can compete but not take home any medals.
The opening ceremony did in fact include positive moments. Team USA walked out to arguably one of the most popular Korean song, “Gangnam Style” by PSY. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance cheering on his country, along with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Yo-jong briefly shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, showing some progress between the two countries.
Aside from the opening ceremony, the official games began on Feb. 10. The winter Olympics showcases 15 different sports, including alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating.
This year’s games leave 102 medals up for grabs. Key American athletes to look out for include Nathan Chen, Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White. Chen, an 18-year-old from Salt Lake City, Utah, is the only undefeated male skater in the world to be competing at the Olympics. Chen is favored to win the gold for the U.S. Vonn, after suffering from two torn ACLs, surgery on her thumb, a concussion, fractured tibial plateau, a fractured ankle, and arm surgery on a broken humorous, the 33-year-old is back to compete at her last Olympics. Two-time Olympic gold medalist, White is set to compete in his fourth Olympic games in the snowboard halfpipe.
Key non-American athletes that are looking to snatch the gold are Noriaki Kasai from Japan, Shim Suk-hee from South Korea and Mikael Kingsbury from Canada. Kasai, a 45-year-old ski jumper, is making his eighth straight appearance at the Olympics. Suk-hee, a native from PyeonChang holds the world record in speed skating and is under the spotlight after being assaulted by her coach. Kingsbury, a 25-year-old freestyle skier is arguably one of the most notable winter sport athletes in the world. Despite this, Kingsbury is still in search of his first Olympic gold medal.
In this year’s games, ice hockey has undergone a big change. For the first time since 1998, the National Hockey League (NHL) is not allowing players to compete for their country. The NHL says the cause for this is due to the lack of funding, fans stating that they want to see the players focus on league competition and the possible distraction from the Stanley Cup.
South Korea is 14 hours ahead of us in the Eastern time zone, but NBC will be broadcasting the games on TV and online at all hours of the day. The events will also be covered on various social media platforms and accounts such as the NBC app, Said app, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Devon Conway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org