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Best in Snow

Posted 03/22/2018 by Halle Bristow

graphic by Halle Bristow

The 2018 Winter Olympics brought nations together and included a number of memorable events.

The Olympics have been around since 776 BC, as part of a religious festival in ancient Greece. Every four years, athletes would gather to compete against each other in order to honor their deities and gods. Since then, it has evolved into a major international sporting event that has become a very prominent part of many different cultures worldwide. These Olympics games encompass a variety of over 20 events, with everything from swimming, to fencing, to gymnastics. However, select sports were never featured in the Olympics, which was detrimental to the athletes who participated on the snow and ice. When the first Winter Olympic games were held in Chamonix, France, in 1924, it had a significant impact because that meant the winter sports would have a turn in the spotlight. This year’s games, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, honored that ancient greek tradition, and continue to inspire unity and peace between nations.

 The Winter Olympics, which lasted from February 8th to the 25th, started with the torch relay, where the eternal flame from Greece was passed through 7,500 torchbearers, representing the 75 million people in Korea, all the way to Pyeongchang. The last leg of the journey was shared between athletes of the mixed North and South Korean women’s hockey team, and finally passed to Yuna Kim, a popular figure skater that took home a gold medal in 2010, who lit the cauldron to officially start the 2018 Winter Olympic games. Leading up to the games, the ongoing 2017-2018 missile crisis concerning North Korea created tension between the two nations. However, the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympic games may have restored some hope for an undivided Korea once again. As is customary for the opening ceremony, the Greek team was followed by the other competing countries in alphabetical order based on the Korean language, with the host country following suit. North and South Korean athletes marched out together under a unified flag, emphasizing the overarching theme for this year’s Olympics: peace.

The opening ceremony continued with the appearance of five children, who each symbolized one of the five Olympic rings. The children also had names which correlated with the natural elements: fire, water, wood, metal, and earth. Other messages of harmony and convergence were seen in the actual building structure for the ceremony, a pentagon. Not only was this another way to emphasize the Olympic “five,” but the building was a combination of several different shapes. A circle, triangle, and square can be seen, which represents heaven, earth, and mankind in perfect balance.

As the 2018 Winter Olympics came to an end, the five children were again the stars of the closing ceremony. After the performance was over, the national anthem of Greece was played, and their flag raised to honor the origins of the international event. Next came the Parade of Flags, which was similar to the opening ceremony, except North and South Korea stood under their own flags. Athletes from North and South Korea walked out separately, bearing their individual national flags, which was previously not seen throughout the games. Each nation entered the arena age with their flag proudly held up high by its own Olympic hero. As the parade continued, Canada’s march onto the center stage was especially emotional, as they obtained a personal best in Winter Olympic performance, with a total of 29 winning medals. However, the most outstanding nation, with a grand total of 39 medals (14 of which were gold) was Norway. They broke the previous record set by the U.S. in 2010 for the highest medal count in the Winter Olympics. This year, the United States came in fourth, with a total of 29 medals.

Many Olympic stars emerged in this year’s competition.  This includes LGBTQ role models Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy, who are both openly gay athletes who touched the hearts of millions with their performances.

Keeping with the tradition, the closing ceremony and Winter games of 2018 came to an end when the Olympic flag was lowered. The flame and torch of this year’s competition were passed on to Tokyo, for the preparation of the 2020 Summer Olympic games. Meanwhile, the flag was and handed over to the mayor of Beijing, as they are the the next host for the Winter Olympic games in 2022.