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The Winter Olympics Posted by on Feb 8, 2018 in Culture

The 23rd edition of the Winter Olympics starts tomorrow. This year, the games are happening in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It will be the first ever Winter Olympics in South Korea. They previously hosted the Summer Olympics in the capital of Seoul in 1988. South Korea tried to get the winter games unsuccessfully in 2010 and 2014, so it seems like the old proverb “the third time is the charm” has proven true! Let’s learn a little about the Winter Olympics, including the English names for all of the sports.


The Winter Olympics

Image from PIxabay.
CC0 Creative Commons

Here are some important statistics about the 2018 Winter Olympics:

  • 92 countries
  • 2,952 athletes
  • 102 events
  • 15 sports
  • 13 different venues
  • Ticket prices range from $17-$786

There are six countries making their first appearance in the Winter Olympics – Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore. A few countries qualified but will not be sending athletes to the games. The Russian team was suspended due to doping allegations. Some Russian athletes will compete but will do so as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” Neither the Russian flag nor Russian anthem will be used.

There will be four new disciplines in the Winter Olympics this year – big air snowboarding, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating, and mixed team alpine skiing. With 102 events, this is the first time the Winter Olympics will have more than 100 medal events.

The games will be centered around two main venues – the Alpensia Sports Park for outdoor sports and the coastal city of Gangneung for indoor sports. The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium is only being used for the opening and closing ceremonies. It cost around $78 million to build and will be dismantled shortly after the games.

There’s a wide range of ticket prices for a few reasons. For one, lesser known sports such as luge and biathlon were made much cheaper in an attempt to ensure full venues for the events. More popular events such as figure skating and the men’s ice hockey gold medal game have the highest ticket prices. As usual, tickets for the opening and closing ceremony are more expensive than the events themselves. They range in price from $190 to $1,293.


Bobsleigh is a popular event. Image from Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons

Here’s the list of the 15 Winter Olympic sports in English:

  • Alpine skiing

  • Biathlon

  • Bobsleigh

  • Cross-country skiing

  • Curling

  • Figure skating

  • Freestyle skiing

  • Ice hockey

  • Luge

  • Nordic combined

  • Short track speed skating

  • Skeleton

  • Ski jumping

  • Snowboarding

  • Speed skating

See all of the Winter Olympic sports in this short video.


Meet the mascots for this year’s games.

While everyone recognizes the Olympic logo of five interlocking rings, each city usually comes up with their own unique design. At first glance, the emblem for the 2018 games in Korea may look like just a box and a star. It’s actually derived from a few characters in the Korean alphabet, which is known as hangul. The logo for the games represents the initial sounds for “pyeong” and “chang.” The first symbol also represents the harmony between heaven, earth, and man. The one on the right symbolizes the snow and ice associated with the winter games.

The motto for this year’s games is “Passion. Connected.” The 2018 Winter Olympics also has two mascots – Soohorang (a white tiger) and Bandabi (an Asiatic black bear).

Relations with North Korea

Since South Korea was awarded the winter games, there have been concerns about what might happen with North Korea. After all, tensions are high on the Korean peninsula and have been since the end of the Korean War. A few athletes from North Korea qualified for the games, but the country failed to register them in time. South Korea still invited North Korea to send their athletes. In an historic agreement, the two countries agreed to march together during the opening ceremony. They will even enter under one flag showing a unified Korea. The two nations will also combine to form one women’s ice hockey team. It seems as if the Winter Olympics have been the biggest step forward in diplomacy between the two nations. Not everyone is happy about it, though, as there have been several protests in South Korea. Only time will tell if and how this cooperation will work out.

An interesting video from TIME about sports and politics on the Korean peninsula.


Will you watch the Winter Olympics this year? Which sports are you most interested in seeing this year? Leave a comment and let us know!

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.