Wrap-up of the 2018 Winter Olympics


Image courtesy of NBC

Kellie Liu, Staff Writer

For the past three weeks, the 2018 Winter Olympics, hosted in PyeongChang, South Korea, have been at the center of global attention. The thrilling games kicked off with a highly-anticipated opening ceremony that featured a central theme of peace in below freezing temperatures.

The ceremony shined a spotlight on several K-Pop groups during the Parade of Nations, as athletes marched into the stadium under their country’s flag to upbeat bilingual rap music. This year, Olympic athletes from North and South Korea marched together under a single flag—a historic diplomatic decision that caused controversy but reinforced the main theme of peace. Korean musicians performed a soulful rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” surrounded by lights in the shape of a dove that symbolized peace and innocence.

The rest of the three weeks proved to be just as exhilarating as the opening ceremony. Here are some of the major highlights from this year’s Winter Olympics.

1) For 17-year-old Chloe Kim, her life would change forever when she became the youngest snowboarder to win an Olympic gold medal in the women’s snowboard halfpipe. According to National Public Radio’s Olympic coverage, “Kim wowed from the start, putting together complicated tricks to begin her first run and leading the field. That got her a 93.75 — good enough to win. She wasn’t satisfied. After falling on the third trick of her second run, Kim showed why she’s regarded as the best in the world, flirting with a perfect score (98.25) in the third run after finding out that her Grandmother —who had never seen her compete — had traveled from Seoul to Pyeongchang to watch her perform.” She is already regarded as one of the best snowboarders in global history.

2) It has been 90 years since anyone claimed gold in two different sports at the same Winter Games. But in PyeongChang, seven days after becoming the first snowboarder to win Olympic gold in alpine skiing, 22 year-old Czech sensation, Ester Ledecka, followed up her success with gold in snowboarding parallel giant slalom. She is the first woman, and only the third athlete, to achieve such success, yet remains humble in her triumph. According to CNN News, when asked whether she was the best athlete in PyeongChang, Ledecka gave a firm “no.” But her nonchalance does not change the fact that she is a once-in-a-lifetime talent that will never be forgotten.

3) Few fans at PyeongChang could match the level of relentless enthusiasm of North Korea’s cheering squad. The 230 young North Korean women charmed fans and viewers all over the world wherever they went. Dressed in matching uniforms, they were easy to spot and to hear, and they faithfully followed the North Korean athletes as they chanted, sang, danced and waved decorated flags in perfect unison. They grasped the attention of viewers and became a worldwide entertainment sensation with almost 440,000 views on Youtube.

4) After missing out on ultimate glory when losing to Canada in the 2002, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, the United States women’s ice hockey team was determined to take home gold in PyeongChang. The nerve-wrecking gold medal match between the underdogs from the United States and the four-time defending champions from Canada came down to a shootout when the score was leveled at 2-2. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson from team USA finally scored to ensure United States’ victory. Jubilation ensued as the team celebrated winning Olympic gold for the first time in 20 years.

5) They may have lost to Sweden in the final, but South Korea’s curling “Garlic Girls” captured everyone’s hearts in Pyeongchang. Given their name because of their garlic producing hometown, the South Korean’s surprising winning streak turned them into instant internet sensations. Ranked eighth coming into the Games, the underdogs beat Canada and Sweden in the round-robin competitions and went on to defeat Japan in the semifinals.

6) One of the most important aspects of the Olympics is encapsulating the Olympic spirit. German Madrazo, an Olympic skier from Mexico, started skiing just last year. One year later, he finished dead last (115th) in the 15 kilometer cross-country race at the Olympic Games. But although the 43-year-old may have finished last, the sight of him crossing the line and holding the Mexican flag aloft exuded a sense of undeniable pride. At the finish line, fellow late-finishers greeted him with a hero’s welcome, lifting him onto their shoulders as he waved to the crowd with a huge smile on his face.

The top three countries with the highest medal count are Norway (14 gold, 14 silver, and 11 bronze), Germany (14 gold, 10 silver, and 7 bronze) and Canada (11 gold, 8 silver, and 10 bronze). The United States finished in a close fourth place.