In 2018, the Winter Olympics head to PyeongChang, a county in South Korea. The area is located in the Taebaek Mountains and is known for its world-class ski resorts, making it an ideal spot for the winter games. Read on to discover some fun facts about the games themselves and the athletes competing this year.
1. The mascot of the Olympics is a white tiger named Soohorang. The white tiger is a common figure in Korean folk tales. The “White Tigers” is also the nickname of South Korea’s most elite battalion.
2. The emblem for the games is comprised of shapes that make up the consonants in the word PyeongChang when written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. The alphabet is unique because it is used to represent individual letters and those letters can be arranged to represent different syllables.
3. The medals that will be awarded to athletes were designed to represent tree trunks. PyeongChang is known for its mountain forests, but ironically an entire forest was destroyed to create a ski run for the games. If you could design a medal, what would it look like?
4. The fabric from which the medals hang is a South Korean fabric called gapsa. It is a lightweight, sheer fabric. For the games, the fabric has been embroidered with Korean symbols.
5. There are six new events at the 2018 PyeongChang games. They include: a Nations Team Event for alpine skiing, big air men’s and women’s snowboarding, mass start men’s and women’s speed skating, and mixed doubles curling.
6. There are more female and mixed events than at any other Olympics in history.
7. Norway has won the most medals at the Winter Olympic Games. The 329 medals won by Norwegians include 118 gold meals. The United States has won the second-largest number of medals with 282, including 96 gold. Track the medals won during this year’s game to see if Norway stays in the lead.
8. There are a record 102 medal events during these Olympic games. 259 sets of medals have been cast for the games.
9. Due to a doping scandal, Russia has been banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Athletes from Russia may still compete, but they must do so as individuals, not as part of a country and cannot wear any uniforms that represent Russia.
10. South Korea and North Korea have experienced a tense relationship for many years and an area near the border between the two countries has been off-limits to people. However, this area will be opened up for Olympic athletes to travel through.
11. Although there is a small airport near PyeongChang, athletes attending the games will likely fly in and out of Incheon Airport in Seoul. A high-speed train line was built to help people travel from the airport to PyeongChang in under two hours.
12. The last two Winter Olympic Games have been fairly warm, with outdoor competitors landing in puddles and skiing on man-made snow. However, the games in PyeongChang are expected to be very cold (the wind chill makes it feel like it is in the single digits) and there will be plenty of natural snow.
13. Athletes and spectators will have to brave the cold to sit in the open-air Olympic stadium. The stadium cost around $107 million to build and is scheduled to be torn down after the games.
14. For the first time, National Hockey League members, who include some of the greatest hockey players in the world, are not going to participate in the Winter Olympics. League officials did not want to pause their regularly scheduled season to allow athletes to participate.
15. Maame Biney made history by becoming the first African-American woman to qualify for the U.S. short track speedskating team. She is only 17 years old. Another 17-year-old, Chloe Kim, is favored to win gold in snowboarding.
16. There are multiple sets of siblings set to compete in the Winter Games. They include ice dancing duo Maia and Alex Shibutani; ice hockey players Hannah and Marissa Brandt; and curlers Becca and Matt Hamilton.
17. Six nations are also scheduled to compete in the Winter Olympics for the first time: Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore. Other nations, such as France, Austria, and Germany considered not attending the games because of the tensions between North and South Korea. However, they have since agreed to attend.
18. 92 nations, including athletes from Russia who will be competing under the International Olympic Committee flag, will be represented that 2018 Winter Olympic Games.