Eric Parks, Staff Writer
From Feb. 8-25, South Korea will have the attention of the worldwide sports community as the Winter Olympics take place. Over the course of these two weeks, 102 medals over 15 disciplines will be awarded.
Not unlike the 2014 Winter Olympics, there was controversy surrounding these Olympic games. Both North Korean and Russian athletes are competing after questions surrounded both teams. Russia was banned in late 2017 for “systemic manipulation” of performance-enhancing drug rules, but athletes from Russia are competing under the title of “Olympic Athlete from Russia.” North Korea sent 22 athletes of their own, but they marched with South Korea during the opening ceremony under one flag. For the first time in Winter Olympics history, North and South Korea will be combining their women’s ice hockey teams to form one Korean team. The team will be represented with a unifying flag. Additionally, snow conditions have been challenging and several security guards were falling ill, prompting the South Korean government to replace the guards with military personnel. The country has been applauded, however, for spending only 13 billion dollars, far less than the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia that came with a price tag of 50 billion dollars.
In 2014, Russia dominated in gold medal count and overall medal count. Due to there being no official Russian team this year, other nations will vye for the title. At the beginning of the games, Germany, Norway and the United States were projected to take home the most medals. Through Feb. 17, Norway was leading in total medals, 22 in all, Germany at second with 17, and Canada in third with 15. America is tied for fifth with Austria in overall medal count at nine. Germany and the Norway rank above the United States for gold medals with nine and seven respectively, while America is at five.
The first several days of events included success for the United States in snowboarding. Red Gerard made headlines when he took home America’s first gold in slopestyle. The 17-year-old from Colorado slept in, lost his coat, took his roommate’s, and entered the final round in last place. After a magnificent run that scored an 87.16 (which included a triple cork on the last jump, one of the most challenging tricks in snowboarding), he swore on television out of excitement. Fellow 17-year-old American Chloe Kim dominated in the halfpipe. Her score of 98.25 was much higher than anyone else’s and was thanks to back-to-back 1080s. Shaun White also won the halfpipe gold medal, completing two consecutive 1440s en route to a gold medal earning 97.75 score. Jamie Anderson completed her gold medal run in slopestyle. While many snowboarders were complaining about conditions, she completed her routine to win the gold.
Looking ahead, figure skating, hockey, curling and many other events have medals to give out. Hockey finishes for the men on the Feb. 25, while the women wrap up the event three days earlier. The men haven’t won gold since 1980, and they lost their first game. The women have fared better, medaling every year since 1998. Singles figure skating occurs Feb. 17 for men and Feb. 23 for women. The American curling team, which hasn’t made the podium since 2006, is hungry to climb the standings. With plenty of events left before the closing ceremony on Feb. 25, the United States still has plenty of time to catch up in the standings, while Germany, the Netherlands and Norway continue to add to their medal count.