Winter Olympics Preview
On February 9, the Olympic flame will finally reach its final destination at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The opening ceremony marks the beginning of 16 days of competition for winter’s greatest athletes.
Like with any Olympics, the days and weeks prior to the competition leads to a spiked interest in the major storylines of the games. Here’s a quick rundown of the top seven things to look for as you watch the Games this February.
Maybe the biggest headline about the Olympics recently has been regarding the Russian doping scandal. Due to state-sponsored doping, Russia is banned from these Olympics. Russian athletes can still compete in the games if found to be proven clean of any PED, but they will have to compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” rather than their home country.
It will be interesting to see how this affects the medal count since Russia is always near the top of the medal count.
Keeping with the theme of non participation, the NHL will not be sending its players to compete in the ice hockey tournament this year. This decision comes as a result of adamant opposition to participation by a majority of the NHL’s clubs.
With this being the case, the teams will be comprised of various college and semi-pro athletes. The U.S. team is made up of these types of players, but also captained by former NHL veteran Brian Gionta, who won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.
The Olympics will be getting a fresh look when they introduce four new events. This year, the Games will initiate snowboard big air, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating, and an alpine skiing team event. These events should help give a new look to some fan favorite events.
The fun part of the Olympics is the mix of traditional and and contemporary sports and cultures. The old and the new. These Olympics will be the first time there are athletes born in the 2000’s, but it will also likely be the swan song for some of our favorite winter athletes, such as Lindsey Vonn.
The 33-year old Vonn will come back to compete after missing the last Olympics with an injury. She made her Olympic debut in 2002 in Salt Lake City at the age of 17. It will be interesting to see how she does back on the Olympic stage against her biggest rival and teammate, Mikaela Shiffrin.
Speaking of comebacks, Shaun White is set to make his comeback after a gruesome injury last fall, requiring him to get 62 stitches to his face. White, age 31, won gold in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics in the snowboard halfpipe event and is one of the most influential snowboarders of all time.
Now we get to the big question everyone is asking about these Games. What about North Korea? PyeongChang is only about 50 miles from the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) that is the border between North and South Korea. One important detail about this is that North Korea is actually sending athletes to the Olympics, who will enter the Opening Ceremony alongside the South Korean under a single, unified flag.
The last important detail to know about these Olympics is that all of the major events will be televised live in prime time due to the Korean time difference. So events taking place in the morning Korean time, will be at night in the United States. All the events will be televised by NBC starting with the Opening Ceremony on February 9.
David Pepin, a sophomore, studies English. He is a copyeditor for Le Provocateur.