The 2018 Winter Olympic Games: Digest

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February 25, 2018

CLOSING CEREMONY CELEBRATES PEACE, POINTS TO BEIJING

Final fireworks

The "Peace Olympics" have ended. Bring on Beijing. Among the highlights of the PyeongChang Closing Ceremony:

  • The Tongan flagbearer again bared his chest, although temperatures were a bit warmer than at the Opening Ceremony.

  • A 13-year-old guitarist, Yang Tae-Hwan, performed a rock version of "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
  • The unified Korean team was nowhere to be found, as athletes from both countries carried their own country's flag in the final procession.
  • Home-country fans (and others) thrilled to the sounds of K-Pop artists CL and Exo.
  • Well-known DJ Raiden took the crowd through the last few minutes, until the final fireworks and the extinguishing of the Flame signalled the closing of the games.

    RUSSIANS WIN HOCKEY GOLD
    OAR win gold

    It was the familiar site of Russian players wearing gold medals around their necks after a hockey victory at the Olympics, after the OAR team defeated surprise finalists Germany 4–3 in overtime. Kirill Kaprizov scored the winner, off a pass from teammate Nikita Gusev, himself a scorer of two goals on the night. The Russian athletes then sang their banned national anthem after being given their medals. A day earlier, Canada had won bronze. It was the last event of the PyeongChang Games.


    ANOTHER GOLD FOR GERMAN BOBSLEDDER
    U.S. win men's curling

    Pilot Francesco Friedrich had a successful Olympics, claiming gold in both the two-man and four-man bobsledding events. The reigning world champion and his two-man partner, Thorsten Margis, had finished a rare first-place tie and claimed gold in that event. In the four-man event, Friedrich again piloted his team to victory; claiming gold with him were Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp, and Margis. Continuing with the theme of a dead heat, the four-man also featured a tie, this time for second place. Another German team, piloted by Nico Walther, finished in the exact same time after four runs as a Korean team, piloted by Won Yun-jong. Walther's teammates were Eric Franke, Kevin Kuske, and Alexander Roediger; Won's teammates were Kim Donghyun, Jun Junglin, and Seo Youngwoo. Both teams were 0.53 seconds behind the winners.



    February 24, 2018

    U.S. CLAIMS GOLD IN CURLING
    U.S. win men's curling

    The U.S., not known as a curling powerhouse, nonetheless claimed its first ever Olympic gold medal, defeating perennial favorites Sweden 10–7 in the men's event. The American team had won only one other medal ever in the sport, a bronze medal in Turin in 2006. Switzerland outpointed another of the sport's heavyweights, Canada, to take the bronze.



    February 23, 2018

    NO SURPRISE AS LEDECKA WINS SNOWBOARD SLALOM
    Ester Ledecka wins gold again

    As the reigning world champion, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic was expected to win the parallel giant slalom snowboarding event, and she did. She added that gold medal to her surprise gold-medal-winning performance in the super G, becoming the first athlete ever to compete in both alpine skiing and snowboarding at the same Olympics; her gold medal in both events will make her feats all the more difficult to even equal, let alone better.


    2ND RUSSIAN ATHLETE FAILS DRUG TEST

    Bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva became the second athlete from Russia to fail a drug test when she tested positive for a banned heart medication. Sergeeva denied taking it, and team doctors said they had not prescribed it. Sergeeva finished 12th in the competition. The news came on the heels of news that the first Russian athlete to fail a drug test, Curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, agreed to give back the bronze medal he won; his partner in the mixed competition was his wife, Anastasia, who also agreed to return the medal she won. (Only he had tested positive.)


    NORWAY SET MEDALS RECORD

    Norway took bronze in alpine skiing mixed team event, scoring for the country its 38th medal of these Games. That breaks the record of 37, set by the United States in Vancouver in 2010. (In the event, Switzerland won gold, and Austria took silver.) The previous high total for Norway was 26 in both 1994 (when they were the host country for the Lillehammer Games) and 2014 (Sochi). As of this event, Norway has won 13 gold medals, which ties them for first with Canada, which won that many as host country in Vancouver in 2010. Norway was also won 14 silver medals and 11 bronze medals. Germany is second in the overall medals total, with 28 (13 gold, 8 silver, 7 bronze), tied with Canada (11, 8, 9). The U.S. with totals of 8, 8, and 6 and a total of 22, is in fourth place.



    February 22, 2018

    RUSSIAN, 15, WINS GOLD ON ICE
    Zagitova strikes gold at 15

    Evgenia Medvedeva in 2017 was the first woman in 16 years to be world champion two years running. She had to settle for silver in PyeongChang, as her 15-year-old teammate Alina Zagitova won gold. Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond won bronze. Medvedeva, at 18 still young but so experienced and so much a winner, suffered a broken foot bone late last year and struggled to recover. Still, she was more than up to the task in the free skate, setting a world points record; shortly after, Zagitova, winner of the 2017 European Championships, broke the record. In the final round, both Russians ended up with the same score, meaning that Zagitova was still ahead and, ultimately, the winner.


    AMERICAN WOMEN WIN HOCKEY GOLD
    American women win hockey gold

    The U.S. has finally beaten Canada in hockey. After 20 years, the American women have finally reclaimed the top spot, besting traditional rival Canada 3–2. Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson scored the winning goal in shootout, past an outstretched Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados. Her counterpart, American goalie Maddie Rooney, had made 29 saves during the three periods of regulation and a further overtime period. The Americans flipped the script on the Canadians, who had won in overtime in Sochi in 2014. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games. The American victory came 38 years to the day after the "Miracle on Ice". Finland claimed the bronze medal.


    SWISS NEAR-SWEEP IN ALPINE COMBINED
    Women's alpine combined

    Michelle Gisin of Switzerland claimed gold in the alpine combined, pipping American Mikaela Shiffrin with a very strong slalom run. Shiifrin had a strong slalom of her own but was too far back after the downhill run. Reigning world champion Wendy Holdener, also of Switzerland, claimed bronze. Gisin's older sister Dominique won gold in the downhill in Sochi in 2014. American Lindsey Vonn, leading after the downhill, straddled a gate and ended her Olympic career, having won bronze in the downhill this year.



    February 21, 2018

    AMERICAN WOMEN STRIKE CROSS-COUNTRY GOLD
    American women win cross-country gold

    Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall won the gold medal in the team sprint cross-country skiing, achieving two more firsts in the process. They have become the first Americans to win gold in the event and the first women ever to reach the podium. The only other American to medal in cross-country skiing was Bill Koch, who won the 30-kilometer individual race in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria. In the same event, Norway's Marit Bjorgen won the bronze; it was her fourth medal in PyeongChang and her 14th medal overall, making her the most decorated Winter Olympian ever.


    VONN IN BRONZE AS ITALIAN WINS DOWNHILL

    Perennial American favorite Lindsey Vonn finished her Olympic downhill career with a bronze medal, in a race won by Italy's Sofia Goggia, the first from her country to win the event. Silver went to Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel.


    GERMANY WINS TWO-WOMAN BOBSLED
    Germany wins two-woman bobsled

    Germany's Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz won gold in the two-woman bobsled. Americans Lauren Gibbs and Elana Meyers Taylor won the silver, keeping intact the U.S. streak of being on the podium in the two-woman event since its inception in 2002. Canada won the bronze. The silver was Taylor's third medal overall (silver in 2014 and bronze in 2010), tying her for first all time in the bobsled; American Patrick Martin won three medals: gold in the four-man in 1948 and silver in both the two-man and the four-man in 1952. In third was the Canadian team of Kaillie Humphries, the gold medalist the last two times, and Phylicia George.



    February 20, 2018

    CANADIAN ICE DANCERS WIN ANOTHER GOLD
    Ice dancing winners

    Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dancing competition, setting a new record for total scorea long the way. Skating to two songs from the film Moulin Rouge, the Canadian pair racked up a total score of 206.07. It was the their third medal overall and second gold: They were first in Vancouver in 2010 and second in Sochi in 2014. Taking silver this year were France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. The American pair of Alexa dn Maia Shibutani won bronze.


    ANOTHER DOPING-RELATED SUSPENSION

    Ziga Jeglic, a hockey player from Slovenia, has been suspended from the Winter Olympics after testing positive for fenoterol, a banned asthma medication. The Court of Arbitration for Sport made the decision and told Jeglic to leave the Olympic Village. With Jeglic, Slovenia had beaten Slovakia (with Jeglic scoring the winning goal); without him, Slovenia lost to Norway and are out of the playoffs.


    FOURCADE WINS THIRD GOLD

    His latest win had less drama but was just as sweet. France's Martin Fourcade powered away on the anchor leg and won the gold medal in the biathlon mixed relay. He and his teammates–Anais Bescond, Simon Desthieux, and Marie Dorin Habert–shot clear of Germany and then powered past defending champs Norway for the win. It was Fourcade's third gold medal in PyeongChang: He repeated as champion in the men's pursuit and then came in first in a photo finish in the men's mass start. The only other French athlete to win three gold medals at one Olympics was alpine legend Jean-Claude Killy, who accomplished the feat at Grenoble in 1968. Fourcade is now his country's winningest Olympic athlete ever, with seven medals, five of them gold.


    NIGERIANS MAKING HISTORY ON ICE

    The Nigerian bobsled team have completed their first two Olympic runs. Akuoma Omeoga and pilot Seun Adigun raced down the track, completing both runs, making them the first athletes from an African nation to compete in a bobsled event of any variety. They will have four runs in all. Also setting a precedent was Simidele Adeagbo, who became the first woman from her country and the first African woman eer to compete in the skeleton.



    February 19, 2018

    IT'S A TIE IN THE BOBSLED
    Joint winners

    Organizers had to hand out four gold medals in the two-man bobsled, after Canada and Germany tied for first place. Both teams had the same total time, down to the hundredth of a second, after four runs. Latvia was in third, just five-hundreds of a second slower; that team still received bronze medals, however: no silver medals were awarded because of the first-place tie. A similar two-winners result occurred in 1998, in Nagano, Japan, when Canada tied with Italy.



    February 18, 2018

    FRENCHMAN WINS BIATHLON IN PHOTO FINISH
    Martin Fourcade wins it

    It was a photo finish in the men's 15-kilometer biathlon, and France's Martin Fourcade won it by an eyelash, claiming his fourth Olympic gold, making him his country's most successful Winter Olympian. Right there with Fourcade at the finish line was reigning world champion Simon Schempp of Germany. In the end, it was Fourcade's right ski that crossed the line first, giving him the mass start gold that had eluded him in 2010 and 2014, when he had scored silver. In bronze behind Fourcade and Schmepp was Norway's Emil Svendesen, who had beaten Fourcade in Sochi, in a photo finish.


    AUSTRIAN CLAIMS COMBINED-GIANT SLALOM DOUBLE
    Marcel Hirscher

    Austria's Marcel Hirscher has won another gold medal, in the giant slalom. He won gold in the alpine combined as well, becoming the first athlete ever to win both events in the same Olympics. Hirscher had been on the podium in Sochi but had not won first place. The winner of 55 World Cup races and a record six-in-a-row World Cup overall titles, he was the heavy favorite to win the giant slalom; heavy favorites have crashed out this year, and every year, so Hirscher's victory wasn't guaranteed. He did win, however, in the process scoring the largest margin of victory in the giant slalom since 1968, in a race won by alpine legend Jean-Claude Killy.


    SWISS PARENTS CYCLE TO OLYMPICS
    cycling parents

    Mischa Gasser competed in the freestyle skiing event. Cheering him on in the crowd were his parents, Guido Huwiler, and Rita Ruttman. They had come by bicycle. They left their home near Zurich on Feb. 2, 2017 and arrived, 20 countries later, in PyeongChang, a distance that exceeds 10,000 miles. They passed through 20 countries on their journey. Then, they camped outdoors in sub-zero temperatures before arriving in PyeongChang, where their son was skiing.



    February 17, 2018

    SNOWBOARDER WINS SKIING GOLD
    Ester Ledecka, gold medalist

    A Czech athlete known for her snowboarding won the super G gold medal–on someone else's skis. Ester Ledecka thought she might give the super G a try and borrowed skis from giant slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin; turns out that Shiffrin's equipment might have given Ledecka an edge, if only psychologically. Austria's Anna Veith, the defending champion, thought she'd won gold and was starting to give celebratory interviews when Ledecka came across the line with a time one-hundredth of a second faster than anyone else, including Veith. Ledecka, the reigning world chpamion in the parallel giant slalom, makes her PyeongChang in that snowboarding event next week; when that happens, she will become the first athlete to compete in both skiing and snowboarding at the Olympics.


    YARNOLD REPEATS AS SKELETON CHAMP
    Lizzy Yarnold

    Lizzy Yarnold has won a second consecutive gold medal in the skeleton. The 29-year-old from Bath, who was also her nation's flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony procession, broke the track record in the process and also became Great Britain's most decorated winter Olympian. Teammate Laura Deas claimed the bronze medal. British women had medalled in the skeleton every year since its inception, in 2002. Austria's Janine Flock was leading going in to the final run but made several mistakes going down the slide and dropped to fourth place.



    February 16, 2018

    HANYU SKATES TO GOLD AND GLORY
    Yuzuru Hanyu, gold medalist

    Yuzuru Hanyu can go home to Japan with the 1,000th gold medal ever handed out at the Winter Olympic Games. In the 23rd Winter Olympiad (the Games started in 1924), Yuzuru repeated as Olympic champion, something that hadn't happened since America's Dick Button accomplished the feat in 1948 and 1952. Hanyu had missed fourth months of training after suffering serious ligament damage in an ankle but completed four quadruple jumps and numerous other combination jumps in the long program. Another Japanese skater, Shoma Uno, took home the silver, and Spain's Javier Fernandez won the bronze, the first Olympic skating medal for his country, Spain. American Nathan Chen, the favorite going in, was in 17th place after the short program but in the long program landed five quadruple jumps, earning him the highest score in the round (and a record-setting score at that) and enough total points for fifth, one place behind fellow American Adam Rippon. Hanyu, meanwhile, with his ever-present Winnie the Pooh dolls not far away, is just 23 and may very well look for a three-peat in four years' time.


    YUN KEEPS SKELETON GOLD IN COUNTRY
    Yun Sung-Bin

    Yun Sung-Bin, attired in a red racing suit that looked like nothing so much as that worn by the comic book superhero Iron Man, stormed down the slippery slope and won the skeleton gold medal, becoming the first athlete outside Europe or North American to win an Olympic sliding medal. The 23-year-old world champion reached speeds of nearly 78 miles per hour and finished 1.63 seconds ahead of silver medalist Nikita Treguboy, an Olympic Athlete from Russia. Dom Parsons of Team Great Britain finished third. The Korean commentators had plenty to say about Yun's victory.



    February 15, 2018

    GERMANS TAKE GOLD MEDAL, SET WORLD RECORD
    Figure skating winners

    Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot won the gold medal in pairs figure skating and set a world record score in the process. China's Wenjing Sui and Cong Han won the silver medal, and taking bronze were Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. The winners were in fourth place after the short programme. Savchenko, 34 had competed in five Olympics and two medals, bronze in both Vancouver and Sochi; she is now tied for the most pairs figure skating medals, with the Soviet Union's Irina Rodnina, who won three straight golds from 1972 to 1980. Massot, 29, was competing in the Olympics for the first time. Their point total for long program was 159.31, besting their own world record by more than two points. The American pair of Alexa and Chris Knierim finished well down the field but did become the first team to land a quadruple twist in an international competition.


    NORWAY FINALLY WINS MEN'S DOWNHILL
    Aksel Svindal

    Aksel Svindal ended his countrys' drought in the men's downhill, at 35 balso ecoming the oldest winner of alpine skiing event. Svindal's teammate Kjetil Jansrud won the silver medal, and Switzerland's Beat Feuz claimed bronze. Norway had been on the podium in five of the last six Winter Olympics but had never won the signature skiing event.



    February 13, 2018

    KIM REALIZES FAMILY'S HALFPIPE DREAM
    Chloe Kim

    Chloe Kim might well be the new face of American snowboarding, after the teen won the halfpipe gold medal going away. The 17-year-old California child of South Korean immigrants already had the victory in hand when she completed back-to-back 1080-degree spins on her second and third jumps–achieveing a feat that no other woman ever has in a competition. Her total score was 93.75; no other competitor had a score over 90. Kim's parents left their homeland and her father gave up his job so their daughter could train; the hard paid off in Olympic gold.


    THREE-PEAT OF SORTS FOR SNOWBOARDER WHITE
    Shaun White

    Shaun White won his third gold medal in the halfpipe, becoming the only American male to achieve the feat. He won gold in 2006 and 2010. (Bonnie Blair won speedskating gold in 1988, 1992, and 1994.) Unlike his female counterpart, Chloe Kim, White had to come from behind to win, claiming gold despite losing training time because of a horrific crash after which the stiches in his mouth have yet to dissolve. His winning routine included two straight 1440-degree spins.



    February 12, 2018

    TRIPLE THE HISTORY FOR U.S. SKATER
    Mirai Nagasu

    Mirai Nagasu landed a triple axel in her performance in the team figure skating competition, becoming only the third woman ever to land the notoriously difficult jump in an Olympics. (The other two were Japan's Midori Ito in 1992 and Mao Asada in 2010 and 2014.) Nagasu's moment in the sun helped her team win the bronze medal. Canada and Russia took the top two medal placings. The Tonya Harding, at the 1991 national championships, was the first American woman to land a triple axel. The jump is the most difficult of the six recognized jumps because the skater's facing foward at the start requires her to complete three-and-a-half revolutions before landing.


    FLYING DUTCHWOMAN MAKES HISTORY TWICE
    Ireen Wust

    The most successful Dutch Olympian of all time is now Ireen Wust, after the 31-year-old won the gold medal in the 1500-meter event. It was her fifth gold medal and 10th medal overall; she won the silver in 3000 meters in PyeongChang. The previous title-holder was equestrianist Anky van Grunsven, who won nine medals. Wust is also now the winningest Olympian speed skater, passing Germany's Claudia Pechstein. Wust won her first gold, in the 3000 meters, in Turin 2006 and became the youngest Olympic champion from her country; she also won the bronze in the 1500-meter race that year. She won gold in the 1500 meters in Vancouver and then two golds and three silvers in Sochi.



    February 11, 2018

    TEEN CLAIMS AMERICA'S FIRST GOLD
    Red Gerard

    The first gold medal won by an American in PyeongChang went to 17-year-old Red Gerard, who found himself in last place after two of three runs in the men's slopestyle, a snowboarding event with obstacles. And yet, he performed a nearly flawless final run and vaulted himself into history by winning the event.


    ANOTHER OLYMPICS, ANOTHER RECORD
    Sven Kramer

    Sven Kramer continued his dominance of long-distance speed skating, again winning the gold medal in the 5,000-meter event, setting another world record finish time in the process. The Dutchman won silver in Turin in 2006 and has won gold at every Winter Games since. Kramer is the winner of five other Olympic medals at previous Games and is also the only man in the history of the sport to win four straight World Allround Championships.



    February 10, 2018

    QUEEN YUNA FIRES UP THE CROWD
    Yuna Kim

    Yuna Kim was in ice skates for this Olympics, but it wasn't for a competition. She was the one who lit the flame at the end of the Opening Ceremony, completing the Torch's trip through 17 cities and provinces all across South Korea. A total of 7,500 torchbearers took part in the 101-day event. Known as "Queen Yuna," Kim won the gold medal in figure skating at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the silver in Sochi four years later. Also a two-time world champion, Kim never finished a competition off the podium. At the end of the Opening Ceremony, she thrilled the audience by performing a short skating routine before lighting the torch.


    TONGAN FLAGBEARER WOWS WITH HIS APPEARANCE
    Tongan flagbearer

    Pita Taufatofua of Tonga was at it again, wearing no shirt while carrying his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony. He followed the same pattern as in the last Olympics, the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Then, he was competing in taekwondo. Now, he is his country's only entrant. He will compete in speed skating. Despite the frigid temperatures, Taufatofua kept his topless streak alive, to roars from the crowd.


    DUTCH SWEEP PODIUM IN 3000M SPEED SKATING
    Dutch podium sweep Women from the Netherlands filled the podium for the 3,000-meter speed skating medal ceremony. Picking up where they left in Sochi four years earlier, the Dutch dominated, with defending Olympic champion Ireen Wust having to settle for silver, behind teammate and winner Carlijn Achtereekte; Antoinette De Jong rounded out the top three for the orange-clad Dutch, who won 23 of 24 medals on offer at the last Winter Olympics.


    AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN STARRING ROLES

    It's Black History Month in America, and two African-Americans are making Olympic history: Jordan Greenway and Maame Biney. He is the first African-American man to play on the U.S. hockey team; she is the first African-American woman to compete in speed skating for the U.S.

    Jordan Greenway

    A forward for Boston University, Jordan is a junior and has already been drafted for the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild; he chose to stay in school, however, and now's competing on the world stage against the world's best, on a team that, for the first time in three decades, is not made up of professionals. Jordan first donned skates when he was 3; he played other sports, but his favorite hockey, especially favored in Canton, N.Y., where he grew up. Jordan's brother J.D. now plays at the University of Wisconsin.

    Maame Biney

    Biney arrived in the U.S. from Ghana when she was 5. She took to skating not long after and has been smitten (and improving) ever since. Now senior at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA., she is finishing her studies electronically, watching videos of class lectures and emailing her homework and papers back to school. She has sought out advice from four-time Olympian and four-time medal winner Shani Davis, himself the first African-American athletes to win a Winter Olympics individual gold medal (in the 1000 meters in Turin in 2006; he defended his title in Vancouver four years later).


    WINNINGEST FEMALE WINTER ATHLETE
    <Marit Bjoergen

    Marit Bjoergen has now won more medals at the Winter Olympics than any other woman. The 37-year-old Norwegian veteran cross-country skier claimed the silver medal in the 15-kilometer skiathlon, eight seconds behind winner Charlotte Kalla of Sweden. Bjoergen's medal was her 11th. She had already claimed the title of oldest female gold medal winner in Sochi four years earlier, when she won three medals, all gold. A five-time Olympian, she won five medals, three gold, at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. She is also the owner of 106 World Cup victories.


    KOREAN HOCKEY TEAM MAKES HISTORY DESPITE DEFEAT
    Korean hockey team

    The Korean unified women's hockey team made history by taking the ice. Their opponents, Switzerland, took no mercy, scoring eight goals while surrendering none. Still, it was history for the Korean team, of which 12 of the 23 players are from the North. The unified team hadn't had much practice time and had shown some promise in a practice match against Sweden, which that country won 3–1. Even the presence of 100 North Korean cheerleaders in red track suits, leading chants and singing pop songs, couldn't stop the Swiss machine. (They won the bronze medal in the last Winter Olympics, in Sochi in 2014.)



    February 9, 2018

    APPENDIX OUT, LET THE GAMES BEGIN
    Justin Olsen

    Justin Olsen, the pilot of the U.S. two-man and four-man bobsled teams, will compete after all, now that he has undergone emergency surgery to remove his appendix. The three-time Olympian had the surgery at a Gangneung hospital and was up and around relatively quickly thereafter. The two-man race takes place on Feb. 18–19; the four-man race takes place a week after that. Olsen was on the four-man team that won gold in Vancouver in 2010.


    NO 11TH-HOUR REPRIEVE FOR RUSSIAN APPEALERS

    A collection of 47 Russian athletes and coaches did not find respite in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which upheld the bans for PyeongChang participation. The group included 28 athletes whose lifetime Olympics bans were voided by the International Olympic Committee. The Russian Olympic Team is still banned from this year's Games. A total of 169 athletes from Russia have passed further drug testing and will compete as Olympic Athletes from Russia.



    February 7, 2018

    NORTH'S LEADER'S SISTER TO ATTEND GAMES
    Kim Yo Jong

    Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will attend the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. An alternate member of Politburo (and its youngest member at 29), Kim Yo Jong is a close aide to her brother and briefly ran the country three years ago when her brother was ill. No stranger to the spotlight, she often appears in public with her brother. She will be the first immediate member of the North's ruling family to visit the South. Heading up the North's delegation will be the ceremonial head of state, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam. In all, the North is sending 280 people to the Games: 229 cheerleaders, four National Olympic Committee officials, 26 taekwondo demonstrators, and 21 journalists.


    NOROVIRUS CASES RISE TO 86

    More people have contracted the extremely contagious norovirus. The Korean Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the number of people infected has risen to 86. It is the peak season for the virus, which normally flares around the world in January and February. The Pyeongchang cases were concentrated at a youth center, and no athletes have the virus, Korean officials said.



    February 6, 2018

    NOROVIRUS SIDELINES SECURITY GUARDS

    More than 1,200 security guards scheduled to be on hand for the Winter Olympic Games have been removed from duty, after 41 of the guards became the victims of the norovirus and were hospitalized. The contagious virus doles out symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea and is contracted through contact with contaminated food or surfaces. The South Korean army has offered 900 replacement security guards, and Olympics officials have been quick to assure the public that they are doing everything possible to prevent further outbreak, including providing fresh disinfections of all Olympic accommodations.


    TRUCE MURAL UNVEILED, SIGNED
    Peace Mural

    Pyeongchang officials have unveiled the Truce Mural, urging the countries of the world to respect the tradition from the times of the Ancient Greek Olympics that athletes would refrain from conflict for the length of the Olympic Games and for travel time to and from the games. South Korean artist Jaeseok Lee created the mural. Joining International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in signing the mural were various Olympic and South Korean officials. A resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly calls for peace from seven days before the start of the Olympic Games until seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games, which run Marhc 9–18. The 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin were the first to feature a Truce Mural; subsequent Games have continued the practice.


    FAVORITE WINTER SPORT BY COUNTRY

    A new YouTube map shows the favorite Winter Olympics sport of each country, based on Google viewing data during the past year. Hockey emerged as the favorite of several countries, including the U.S. and (of course) Canada and Russia, on the map. Curling emerged as a favorite sport watched by many people in countries with warmer climates, namely Africa and the Middle East. China's favorite: speed skating.



    February 4, 2018

    KOREAN WOMEN UNITED ON THE ICE
    United Korean women's hockey team

    Women from North Korea and South Korea donned their skates and took to the ice for the time in an Olympic forum, playing a warmup game against perennial powerhouse Sweden. The Korean players had been practicing together for only a week, yet held the powerful Swedes to three goals in a 3–3-1 loss before about 3,000 fans at the Seonkah International Ice Rink in Incheon. Some fans waved flags depicting a map of a unified Korean Peninsula, matching the design on the players' uniforms. Eight teams will compete for medals in women's hockey: Canada, Finland, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States qualified. They will join the united Korean team and a handful of women competing as Olympic Athletes from Russia.


    ATHLETES ARRIVING IN OLYMPIC VILLAGE
    A Dutch athlete in Pyeongchang

    Athletes from around the world have begun arriving in South Korea, ahead of the Pyeongchang games, which open on Feb. 9. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach declared Olympic Village officially open. Nearly 3,000 athletes from 92 countries around the world will take part in the Games. The U.S. will send 242 athletes, the largest contingent from any country in the history of the Winter Olympics. Host South Korea will set its own record, with 144 athletes competing. North Korea will send 22. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Singapore will make their Winter Olympics debuts. Athletes can expect some comforts of home (or some novelties, depending on where they live). Among the services on offer will be these:

    • a 24-hour dining area serving a wide variety of local and international food
    • a recreation center
    • a convenience store
    • a post office
    • a parcel service
    • a call center
    • a photo service
    • a bank
    • a state-of-the-medical center
    • an Internet lounge
    • a dry cleaners.



    February 1, 2018

    RUSSIAN ATHLETES REINSTATED
    The Court of Arbitration for Sport has thrown out suspensions of 28 Russian athletes, overturning a decision made by the Intenational Olympic Committee. In addition, 11 other athletes have had part of their suspensions overturned. All of the athletes had appealed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspensions, which amounted to a lifetime ban from Olympic competition. In the case of the 11 who still face a partial ban, that will take the form of being ineligible for this year's Winter Olympics only. For the 28 athletes who found themselves no longer facing a lifetime ban from the Olympics, the question was still open as to whether they would be competing this month in Pyeongchang. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that for the 28, the evidence to prove that they had doped was insufficient. In the wake of the bans, which also included a restriction on the entire Team Russia apparatus, a total of 169 athletes from Russia will be competing under the Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) banner. All of those athletes have passed drug tests. Whether the newly un-banned athletes will have time to take such tests remains to be seen.


    OPENING CEREMONY
    Organizers at the Pyeongchang games have unveiled plans for the Opening Ceremony program and for the personal comfort of attendees. The Opening Ceremony, which begins on February 9, will focus on peace and will feature animals and a cast of 2,000 people. Enhancing the experience will be augmented reality. As for the anticipated 43,000 people to be in the audience, organizers have assured those people that they will be warm. Temperatures have been forecast to be extremely cold for the nighttime event. Each person in attendance, organizers say, will get a knitted cap, hand and feet warmers, a lap blanket, a warm seat cushion, and a raincoat.



    January 28, 2018

    TEAM USA
    Jamie Anderson, Team USA snowboarderThe American contingent in Pyeongchang will consist of 242 athletes, the largest nation delegation in the history of the Winter Olympics. Of the 102 medal events, Americans will compete in 97. A full 103 of those athletes have competed at the Olympics before, and 37 of them have won medals; five on the team are defending gold medalists. The current all-time gold medal total for Team USA is 96; the current all-time all-medals total is 284. In 2014, Jamie Anderson (snowboarding slopestyle, right), Maddie Bowman (freestyle skiing halfpipe), Ted Ligety (alpine skiing giant slalom), Mikaela Shiffrin (apline skiing slalom), and David Wise (freestyle skiing halfpipe) led the way, winning gold medals; the team as a whole won 28 medals, nine gold.


    TEAM GREAT BRITAIN
    Great Britain will send its largest-ever field to this year's Winter Olympics. A total of 59 athletes will compete for Team GB. The team won a gold, a silver, and a bronze in 2014. The gold went to Lizzy Yarnold in skeleton; the curling team won silver (men's team) and bronze (women's team); and Jenny Jones won bronze in the snowboard. That four-medal total equalled the country's best Winter Olympic showing, tying with the 1924 team, at the first Winter Olympic Games, in Chamonix, France. That year's team won gold in curling, silver in bobsleigh, and bronze in ice hockey and women's figure skating.


    RUSSIAN ATHLETES
    Several dozen Russian athletes can compete in this year's Winter Olympics, despite a ban on the country's participation because of doping. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has invited 169 athletes from Russia, all of whom have passed further drug testing. Nearly three-quarters of those athletes have not competed in the Winter Olympics. Russia in 2014 sent 232 athletes to its home-country games, in Sochi. The approved athletes can compete under the Olympic flag and hear the Olympic theme if they win a gold medal; they will wear uniforms that designate them as an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).



    January 24, 2018

    VIRTUALLY TRAINING
    Some members of the U.S. Olympic team have been using virtual reality to augment their training. Seems some of the participants in skiing and snowboarding events have been using a headset, laptop, and smartphone apps to simulate Olympic race conditions, without venturing out into the snow and ice. U.S. team officials have been quick to stress that it's not entirely athlete-controlled–the video was shot in advance–but it does give athletes the opportunity to preview the course in a safe (warm) way.


    VIRTUALLY WATCHING
    On the other side of the competition equation, viewers of the Olympic events will have virtual reality options as well. Traditional American TV broadcasters NBC have teamed up with computer chipmaker Intel to provide coverage of 30 events in virtual reality; in addition, 18 of those events will be streamed live, and the other 12 will be available on demand the day after the event occurs. Among the live streamed highlights will be downhill skiing, skeleton, and ice hockey. Check the VR schedule for more. Live streams will show 180-degree views; on-demand events will show 360-degree views.



    January 22, 2018

    AMERICAN ATHLETES KEEPING WARM
    The parkas that the United States athletes will wear will include heaters, Team USA has said. Temperatures are forecast to be especially cold in South Korea, moreso than normal. The red, white, and blue parkas, designed by Ralph Lauren, will sport heaters inside; keeping with the patriotic theme, the heaters will be shaped like the American flag. Each heater can last up to five hours at the highest setting (or 11 hours at the lowest setting). The heater runs on a battery pack, and the buttons on the battery pack are extra large so that athletes will not have to remove their gloves in order to turn on the battery.


    NORTH KOREAN POP STAR
    The rumors of a North Korean superstar's "invasion" South Korea have been confirmed, as Hyon Song-wol (right), the leader of the popular girl band Moranbong, arrived in South Korea to inspect some venues at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The most famous face of the most famous musical group in the North was part of a diplomatic delegation that marks a slight thaw in the high-strung tensions experienced between the two countries in recent weeks. It is the first such appearance in the South by a delegation from the North in four years. Another such delegation is scheduled to arrive in the next few days. Moranbong, the North's first all-female popular music group, has been on the world stage since 2012. Hyon Song-wol will lead the 140-strong music and dance group that will perform at two venues; no word yet on whether the entire girl band will perform.



    January 15, 2018

    NORTH KOREAN MUSIC
    A North Korean art troupe of 80 musicians and 60 singers and dancers will perform at the Pyeongchang Games. The artists will perform in Seoul and in Gangneung, where other competitions till take place. Expected on the programs are well-known folk and classic songs. North Korea has sent similar art groups to South Korea since 1985; the last such performance was in 2002. The announcement came in the wake of high-level talks between North Korea and South Korea at the border between the two countries. Also attending the talks was one of the North's most well-known artists, Hyon Song Wol, leader of girl group Moranbong Band. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is involved with discussions; officials from both countries are also meeting with IOC officials in Switzerland. North Korea had earlier committed to sending a group of well-known cheerleaders to the Games, to support a limited number of athletes attending.


    JOINT HOCKEY TEAM
    North Korea and South Korea have agreed in principle to field a joint women's hockey team for the Pyeongchang Games. The International Olympic Committee must approve the plan. It would be only the third joint team at an international sporting event: In 1991, the two countries teamed up to compete in the world table tennis championships and the World Youth Soccer Championship.



    January 8, 2018

    PRIZES

    Winners of medals at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will also receive a doll, and a wooden gift. The doll represents Soohorang, the Games mascot; each doll's hat color will correspond to the medal color of the winners. Each doll will also wear an uhsahwa, a paper flower. The wooden gift will depict scenes of mountainous PyeongChang and Korean Hangul alphabetic characters that spell out the city and the year of competition.


    NORTH KOREAN ATHLETES

    The figure skating contingent from North Korea is likely to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The pair of Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik are their country's only athletes to qualify for the Games, winning the bronze medal at the Asian Winter Games, which took place in February 2017 in Sapporo, Japan. North Korean athletes have not always participated in the Olympics, last taking part in 2010, when the Winter Games took place in Vancouver.


    RUSSIAN HOCKEY PLAYERS

    Hockey players from Russia will be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics despite their country's being banned from the Games. A handful of players will wear red and white "Olympic Athlete from Russia" jerseys and perform under the Olympic flag. If they win the gold medal, they will hear the Olympic theme played at the medal ceremony. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, the Russian hockey team has won a silver medal (in Nagano in 1998) and a bronze medal (in Salt Lake City in 2002) and finished fourth (twice), fifth, and sixth. The Soviet was more dominant, winning nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament between 1954 and 1991.



    December 10, 2017

    RELAY
    The Olympic Torch is wending its way across South Korea. After the traditional lighting of the flame in Olympia, Greece, on October 24 and the transfer to representatives of the PyeongChang Olympics, the Torch started its Korean journey in Changnyeong on November 16.

    Torchbearers and route planners have included a variety of transportation methods for the Torch, including a ride on a boat and a cable car. The country has long been a leader in cutting-edge technology, and one transfer of the Torch was from one robot to another. Ceremonies accompanying the passage of the Torch have included performances by modern pop stars and by traditional dancers.

    The entire Torch route is 2,129 kilometers (1,322 miles). A total of 505 torchbearers carried the Flame around the country, through 20 cities and towns and 36 welcome ceremonies.


    AFRICANS ON ICE
    2018 Winter Olympics Nigerian bobsled teamNigeria will be the first African nation ever to compete in bobsled at a Winter Olympics, after the women's bobsled team qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. The Games run February 9–25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

    The team of driver Seun Adigun and brakewomen Akuoma Omeoga and Nogzi Onwumere are former professional track and field athletes. Adigun is a national champion in the 100-meter hurdles and represented Nigeria in that event at the 2012 London Olympics.

    They are Nigeria's first ever competitors at a Winter Olympics.

    Nigerian athletes have completed at the Summer Olympics since the 1952 Games in Helsinki, Finland. Overall, Nigeria has won 25 medals (three gold, 10 silver, and 12 bronze), including a high-profile gold medal in soccer at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

    Other African nations sending athletes to Winter Olympics include Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, and Zimbabwe.


    RUSSIA
    The Russian Olympic Committee has offered its full support for Russian athletes who wish to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, even though Russia itself will not be represented. The International Olympic Committee recently banned Russia from participating in the PyeongChang Games because of findings that suggested a systematic doping program that stretched back to at least 2011.

    Any athletes from Russia who pass a drug test can compete under the name Olympic Athlete from Russia. They would compete under the Olympic flag; any athlete who wins a gold medal would hear the Olympic theme playing at the medal ceremony.

    A significant number of athletes from Russia have indicated their willingness to go ahead and compete.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2018
David White