2018 Winter Olympics: What to Watch in Pyeongchang

This year, the Winter Olympics are in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The estimated cost for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is $10 billion.   

While over 20 million people tuned in to watch the opening ceremonies, many wonder which athletes or events they should specifically watch.   

There are four new events taking place at the Winter Olympics: big air snowboarding, mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling and mixed team alpine skiing. Big air snowboarding was an event specifically designed to attract a younger audience.

Big air snowboarding is thrilling because of its dangerous nature. Athletes “fly off a highly pitched ramp similar to those on the slopestyle course, and perform jumps with multiple flips and spins. They do as many jumps as possible in an allotted amount of time,” according to The Associated Press.  

Katie Ormerod from the U.K. was favored to win big air snowboarding but broke her heel during training a week before the Olympics. This means that there is a fairly even playing field among those competing in this event.

The Netherlands is favored to win in mass start speed skating. Canada is favored to win in mixed doubles curling, as the reigning men’s and women’s Olympic champions are Canadian. Austria and Switzerland are the two primary contenders for mixed team alpine skiing. Austria has won 114 Olympic medals in alpine skiing and Switzerland has won 59.    

To those looking for a heartfelt story, bobsledding is the sport to watch. Three Nigerian-American women have become the first ever African bobsled team to qualify for the Winter Olympics.  

All three women, each a former track and field star, felt called to represent Nigeria when they learned a Nigerian athlete had never made it to the Winter Olympics. They even made their own bobsled in order to practice.

The women’s ice hockey game between the Korea and Switzerland Feb. 10 attracted international attention because of the controversy surrounding North and South Korean relations.  

The relations have been amicable during the Olympics, in part due to the decision of the countries to enter a unified hockey team into the competition. This team is referred to as Korea and marches under the Korean Unification flag.

While Korea lost its first hockey game, this did not deter fans from enjoying the monumental occasion they had witnessed.  After the game, fans were seen holding large banners that read “We are one.”  

Lindsey Vonn is a specific athlete to watch. A torn ACL kept her from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Vonn walked away from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with a gold and bronze medal. At 33 years old, many believe this will be Vonn’s last Olympics to ski.  

“Eight years has been a very long time. Obviously, I was very … disappointed and devastated and frustrated that I missed Sochi. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I’m ready,” said Vonn.

Other Americans to look for are Nathan Chen in figure skating and Lindsey Jacobellis in snowboard cross. Chen made figure skating history in 2016 when he became the first man ever to land five quadruple jumps in one 4 1/2 minute long program. Jacobellis is the most decorated woman in snowboard cross history but is still seeking an Olympic gold. She earned a silver medal at the 2007 Olympics.

The Winter Olympics began Friday, Feb. 9 and end with the closing ceremony Sunday, Feb. 25. Live streaming and competition schedules can be found on NBCOlympics.com.

Photo courtesy of Goneskiing.com 

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