PYEONGCHANG WINTER OLYMPICS

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PYEONGCHANG WINTER OLYMPICS

Published Feb 5, 2018

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This year’s Games carries a lot of political baggage. Hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Games managed to bring together longtime rivals, North and South Korea, Russian athletes were banned (sort of) from the Games, and Team Canada is expected to leave with a record number of medals. Here’s what you need to know.

The Fun Stuff

The Winter Olympics – a competitive international sporting event featuring countries from around the world competing in sports on snow and ice. The very first Winter Olympics was held in 1924.

The 2018 Winter Olympics starts on Friday, Feb. 9 with the opening ceremonies starting at 6 a.m. ET. On display will be South Korean history plus a lot of contemporary pop culture. Looking at you, BTS. Canada’s figure skating sweethearts, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, will lead team Canada as the country’s flag bearers.

Fun Fact: South Korea spent $13 billion on the Olympics.

The competition hosts 105 events in total. Canada is flying in strong with 225 athletes.

A Closer Look

Alpine Skiing: Manny Osborne-Paradis is a four-time Olympian hailing from British Columbia. He won bronze at the world championships last year.

Freestyle Skiing: Dara Howell. The 23-year-old from Huntsville, Ontario won gold four years ago at the Sochi Winter Olympics then almost left the sport. She’s entering this year as the underdog hopeful.

Freestyle skiing sisters, Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe, are heading to Pyeongchang with gold and silver medals from the Sochi Olympics. They’re repping Montreal. And they’re pretty fierce.

Figure Skating:Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are expected to win gold. They won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are expected to win a medal at this year’s Olympics. They’re the world’s third-ranked pair but plan to retire after Pyeongchang.

Patrick Chan is a familiar face in the skating circuit. Hailing from Toronto, Chan is a two-time Olympic silver medallist and a three-time world champion.

Hockey: Canada’s men’s hockey team consists of former NHL stars and players currently playing in the European league and minor leagues. FYI, the NHL didn’t create a break in the schedule this season to allow players to participate in the Olympics. Which means, you can still expect the competition to be fierce, but current NHL players are not participating. Team Canada is the team to beat. They won Gold in the last two Winter Olympics.

Snowboarding: Spencer O’Brien, Max Parrot, and Mark McMorris are no strangers to winning and this Olympics is no different. They have their eyes on the prize – the podium.

Skeleton: Elisabeth Vathje, the 23-year-old from Calgary, won big at the World Cup circuit with three silver medals and a bronze. We’re watching for her to win even more at the Olympics.

International Stars

18-year-old U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen has been dubbed the quadruple jump king. Expectations are high for this teenager, who will compete in the men’s figure skating competition.

Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu is the defending men’s figure skating gold medallist. He recently suffered an ankle injury but is still the favourite to win.

The Netherlands’ Sven Kramer has seven speed skating medals and the highest chance of earning the most medals at the Olympics. Watch for him to whizz past the competition.

The Deep Stuff

While the Olympics are about sports and national pride, they’re also embroiled in controversy. Even before North and South Korea agreed to unite for the Olympics, organizers planned a peace theme for this Olympics. Because things haven’t been so peaceful lately.

N.K. has been antagonizing its neighbour, South Korea, with its nuclear missile tests; while President Donald Trump and N.K. leader Kim Jong-un have been playing a game of ‘who blinks first.’ It hasn’t been going well. In response to N.K.’s continued nuclear testing, most world leaders have turned against the Kim regime and placed heavy penalties on the rogue country.

N.K. and S.K. are going to play together under one joint flag even though they’re not usually on friendly terms. In the spirit of the Games, however, the two countries decided to march together at the opening ceremony under a unified flag – a white flag with a blue silhouette representative of the Korean peninsula. They’ve also formed a joint women’s hockey team.

The relationship seems to be going well so far, but we were recently reminded that in 1987, North Korea blew up a South Korean passenger plane to scare athletes and visitors from going to Seoul, South Korea for the Summer Olympics in 1988.

Not featured: Russia. They were caught in a state-sponsored doping scandal and were banned from the Olympics. But 170 athletes from Russia were still given the green light to participate. They will be identified as Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) and compete without their national flag and anthem.

Where to Watch the Olympics in Canada

CBC, Sportsnet, and TSN will all be sharing broadcasting duties. Here’s a handy schedule.

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