Welcome to “Posts from PyeongChang,” where every Friday we’ll highlight noteworthy and kid-friendly news and information. More than a medal count, these updates focus on the emerging stories that are funny or quirky, inspiring or illustrative of the great sportsmanship that make up the heart of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Come back at the end of each week for updates and have fun discussing the latest news with the kids in your life.
The 2018 Winter Games were full of medals, memories and unforgettable moments. But in between the victories were stories of human spirit that hit a nerve with people everywhere. While these Games are over, we can look forward to watching more inspiring athletes when the Paralympics begin.
- Of course it wouldn’t be an update without mentioning Tessa and Scott, who are now on a first name basis with most of the world. During the closing gala, the ice dance champions paid tribute to Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip with their skate to ‘Long Time Running.’
- The family support in PyeongChang was nothing short of remarkable. Parents, grandparents, partners, children and friends traveled to cheer on their favourite athletes (which is a minimum 13-hour flight, YYZ > ICN). A charming and memorable moment happened when Kaetlyn Osmond (figure skating) told a reporter during the Closing Ceremonies that her mom was “probably still crying.”
- The closing ceremonies symbolized the transition from host PyeongChang to 2022 host Beijing. Building on the success in South Korea, the next Winter Games may include more medals as several disciplines are hoping to expand the number of events they feature, including skiing and luge.
The second week in PyeongChang was a contrast of surprise and no surprise at all.
- World champion snowboarder, Ester Ledecka, shocked everyone (including herself!) when she won the women’s super-G event by one-hundredth of a second. Super-G, as you might know, is an alpine skiing discipline and the second of two sports for Ledecka. The self-proclaimed “snowboard girl” raced to gold on borrowed skis and showed us all what it means to be physically literate.
- The Internet exploded when Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold in the ice dancing event. While many reacted to their edgy routine and palpable on-ice chemistry, it was the video montage of their 20-year partnership that resonated with spectators all over the world.
- The snowboard community has grown a little with the debut of Big Air in South Korea. Onlookers are loving the big tricks and it seems the athletes are just as supportive of each other. When Austrian Anna Gasser stomped the landing in her final run to win the gold medal Spencer O’Brien was the first to congratulate her. The rest of the ladies followed suit and surrounded Gasser in a big hug, showing the respect they have for each other and their sport.
- Fans from around the world have traveled to PyeongChang to cheer on their favourite athletes in fantastic fashion. Every so often, cameras capture the colour and personality of the spectators that steal our hearts and sometimes the show (check out #MoreMoir for yourself).
In the first full week of competition there was no shortage of medals, emotions and memorable moments.
- The North Korean cheerleaders have become somewhat of a sensation during the Games. Their matching track suits and choreographed flag-waving has piqued spectator interest during each event they attend. Interestingly, the cheerleaders outnumber athletes from North Korea by roughly ten to one.
- Skeleton athletes are super-sliding, adrenaline junkies that race head first towards the finish line. Their heads, and the helmets that protect them, are the first and last thing observers notice on the track. Makes sense that most athletes choose to express their style and heritage through their helmet design.
- Fan favourite flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua from Tonga, finished his 15km cross-country race 23 minutes behind the Swiss winner. As the only athlete from Tonga he was quoted as saying, “I won’t medal on Friday, but in four years, someone from Tonga might.” That, my friends, is the spirit of the Winter Games.
- The Swiss freestyle ski team is showing everyone how fun-loving they are with their happy and hilarious Instagram account. Their remake of ‘Cool Runnings’ and ‘Escalator Korean Style’ stunt have caught everyone’s attention this week. DISCLAIMER: do not attempt at home!
- Active for Life role model and snowboarding slopestyle silver medalist, Max Parrot, gives gold medal advice to kids dreaming of the Olympics. In an interview after receiving his medal, Max tells kids that “having fun is the key to success!”
The Opening Ceremonies were highlighted by Canada’s flag bearers, Tessa Virture and Scott Moir, who led 223 of our nation’s best athletes into PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. However, this was just one of the many unique headlines of the week.
- Active for Life role model, Philippe Marquis, qualified for men’s moguls finals despite racing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee. The ACL provides stability and support while moving laterally, but proved to be optional in Marquis’ success on the mountain. For added inspiration, Philippe scribbled “Fire” and “Engage” on each of his gloved thumbs, reminding him to commit to every mogul on the course.
- The ice surfaces in PyeongChang might feel familiar to Canadians as five out of six venues feature ice makers from the land of the maple leaf. Kyle Lamkey, in particular, will be taking time off from his ice making role with the Toronto Maple Leafs to man the hockey rinks and drive the Zamboni in South Korea.
- While Finnish snowboarder Roope Tonteri was preparing to drop into the slopestyle course on qualifying day, his coach seemed to be focused elsewhere. The unidentified coach appeared to be knitting atop the Phoenix Snow Park course, only breaking concentration to complete a special handshake with his athlete. That’s one way to unwind . . .
- The Opening Ceremonies showcased, among other things, eye-catching fashion, including battery-operated, app-controlled warming jackets worn by the American team. The showstoppers, however, were the athletes from Bermuda who entered Olympic Stadium in shorts, unfazed by frigid -2 C temperatures. Not to mention the athlete from Tonga, who carried his country’s flag while topless.