For those of you who do not know already, today marks the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The opening ceremony is from 5-7 a.m. on Feb. 9 and will be televised by NBC at 7 p.m.later that day.
The games will be held until Feb. 25 in South Korea. If you only know a fraction of the events, athletes, and storylines, worry not; let this serve as a brief preview:
Where are the games being held?
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea. PyeongChang (pronounced peeyong-chang) is a county in northern South Korea, 50 miles from the North Korean border.
What countries will (and won’t) be there?
There will be 92 countries from six of the seven continents at the Olympics this year (somehow Antarctica once again failed to produce a single athlete despite perpetual winter). The United States leads the way with 242 athletes, followed by Canada with 226. Norway, the all-time medal leader, will send 109 athletes. Malta, a 122-squaremile island south of Italy with an average yearly temperature of 73 degrees, has managed to send one (sorry, Antarctica).
Most notably missing from the games is Russia. Russia has been banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for having sponsored and promoted doping. IOC president Thomas Bach called the scandal “an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.” Interestingly, the investigation into Russia was driven in large part due to the whistle-blowing Netflix documentary Icarus. The Winter Olympics has granted Russian athletes who have been proven ‘clean’ to independently participate.
Athletes to watch
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Olympics is the stories many of the athletes arrive with. Take, for instance, Erin Jackson. Jackson has earned a spot on the long-track speedskating team, despite having picked up the sport a mere four months ago. She is no less surprised than us. In reference to the qualifying trials for the American team, she said, “I didn’t want to be the worst skater out there so it pushed me to go to as many training sessions as I could go to.” In making the team, she has not only avoided embarrassing herself, but has become the first African-American to make the team.
Other names to pay attention to are Shaun White, 17-year-old snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim, and Minnesota-native Lindsey Vonn. This may be the last chance to see the highly-decorated White and Vonn participate in the Olympics.
What are the Winter Olympic sports?
Here is a complete list of the sports included this year: Alpine skiing, biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting), bobsledding, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short track speedskating, skeleton sledding, ski jumping, snowboarding and speedskating. To all excited to see your favorite NHLers on a global stage, curb your enthusiasm. The NHL has restricted its players from participating. This decision is indicative that the financial bottom line is the most important thing in commercialized sports today.
Hopefully this preview has given you a little better feel for the games. If you were hoping to learn more about curling and how it is played, you are on your own. If you only watch one thing, make sure it is the opening ceremony – one of the great spectacles in sport.