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Winter Olympics PyeongChang 2018 – The highlights so far!

The Winter Olympics 2018

The 2018 Winter Olympics are now underway in PyeongChang, South Korea.

It is the 23rd Winter Olympics and the first time it is being held in South Korea.

This years winter games started with the last minute addition of North Korea, joining South Korea in a show of unity. The inclusion of North Korea marks an concerted effort by both countries to unite their citizens, among the ongoing political and military tensions.

So as Day 6 of the games gets underway, we give you the highlights of the competition so far!


The opening Ceremony:

The games officially started on 9th February with the opening ceremony held in the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. The temporary stadium, which will be pulled down after the games end on the 25th February, held some 35,000 spectators, while millions of tv viewers were watching from around the world.

The two Korean nations unite under joint flag

North and South Korea took to the stadium as one, united under a single flag which bore a map of a united Korea. The athletes from both countries were led by North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung Gum and South Korean Bobsledder Won Yun-Jong, who held the flag together.

Who are OAR ?

Among the groups of parading countries on display were a group of athletes marching under the OAR banner. Dressed in dull grey coats and jeans, these athletes were led around the stadium by a volunteer. The volunteer held a flag bearing the Olympic rings logo, leaving viewers questioning which country these poor individuals belonged to. The answer it seems is a comprise for the publicly banned Russia.

Russia was banned from competing in this years games after a huge doping scandal was uncovered. This  brings into question the results of the last Winter Games, which ended with Russia being crowned the winner.

Russian athletes who passed screening tests were permitted to compete under the title ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’, or OAR for short. They are banned from wearing their countries colours or displaying the Russian flag. Also any medals the athletes win will not be attributed to Russia and therefore not included in the history of medal wins for Russia.

Shorts in the Stadium

With temperatures falling to -3 degrees, the open air stadium issued spectators with ‘warming packs’ . These included gloves and leg warmers, in an effort to combat the extreme cold.  Not everyone was bothered by the sub-zero temperatures though it seems as the solo athlete competing for Bermunda proved, by donning a pair of red (Bermunda) shorts as he paraded around the stadium!

Topless Tonga

Tonga was another country to brave the cold, with their flag bearer Pila Taufatofua who famously appeared at the Brazilian Olympic games opening ceremony in Rio 2016 topless and covered in baby oil, choosing to do the same in the freezing temperatures in PyeongChang!

Top Ten Winter sports

The most popular winter sport at the Olympics according to recent figures is Ice Hockey. This is  followed by figure skating and skiing. Ice Hockey is a firm favourite around the world particularly with countries such as America and Russia.

Other events include curling, speed skating, Luge, Bobsleigh, snowboarding and ski jumping.

The winners so far

Olympic Medals Count:

With 102 medals up for grabs we take a look at which countries are leading the score board in terms of medals.

Since Russia is out of the picture this year, the top spot is currently being held by the German team. Germany has already won a total of 12 medals, 7 of those being gold. The Netherlands and the US are close behind with 5 and 4 gold medals respectively.

Ice Hockey – Women’s Ice Hockey Team

One of the most popular sports at the winter games are the ice hockey events and this year is no exception.

In a show of unity, North and South Korea decided to compete together as one team for the women’s ice hockey games.  Unfortunately however, once on the ice, the team only illustrated how far apart the two countries really are. With the last minute addition of North Korean players to the South Korean team and little time to practice, the odds were staked against the already low ranking South Korean team (22nd in the world). Add to this the language barrier – their American coach giving instructions in English which then had to be translated into firstly Korean and then North Korean, along with the suggestion that the North Korean players were far less skilled at the game of ice hockey than their South Korean counterparts and were taking the place of better South Korean players, the resulting thrashing by Switzerland (8-0) came as little surprise.

Figure Skating

Figure skating is often described as ‘dancing on ice’ and with all the spins, jumps and moves, it truly is an enjoyable winter sport to spectate. Usually though, the soundtrack the skaters perform to is a little on the dull side. Often either classic music or tracks from musicals are chosen to accompany the performance. Enter Chafik Besseghier, representing France in the figure skating short programme event. Dressed as a taxi driver, Chafik decided to liven things up on the rink, and ‘busted some moves’ to ‘Rapper’s Delight’ the 1979 Sugar Hill Gang hit. While the performance may not bag him a medal, it was definitely one of the most memorable of the figure skating performances so far.

Japan’s defending Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu was also back on the ice for the short programe. Having injured his ankle in November last year, Hanyu had not skated professionally since October,. This left some to question how well he would cope with the jumps and spins expected of him. They need not have worried though, as Hanyu put on a seemingly flawless performance with lots of jumps and spinning around (- called a triple axel and quad toeloop-triple-toeloop combination apparently!) Hanyu now leads the men’s figure skating in terms of points, putting him on track for the gold!

Nathan Chen from the US however did not perform so well. Considered one of the best quad jumpers in the competition, Nathan didn’t get off to a good start, falling on his opening jump. The rest of the performance was not much better. He seemed to struggle with most of his jumps and spins, and did not complete a combination jump – one of the required jumps of the event. This lost him valuable points and puts him 29 points behind the leader Hanyu. There is still the long programe event to go but it seems unlikely Nathan can do enough now to claim a medal.

North Korea’s Cheerleaders

Give me a ‘N’, give me an ‘O’, and ‘R’……and what have you got but the strangest group of cheerleaders sent from North Korea in order to cheer along its athletes.

The ‘army of beauties’ in their matching red snowsuit uniforms have caused quite a stir among spectators at the games. Described by some as robotic and slightly creepy, these group of ladies cheer, sing and wave flags in perfect union. They remained equally enthusiastic with their cheering on of the women’s ice hockey team despite its unfortunate performance so far.

The Bullet Men of PyeongChang

Nothing says ‘the Winter Olympics’ like three giant silver statues of naked men in Phallic shaped helmets!

Dubbed the ‘Bullet Men’, these huge statues greet spectators and journalists as they enter the Olympic Media Center. Said to embody the ‘human desire for a wonderful body, wealth and honour’ these statues have become a target for memes trending on the internet, such as the ‘Olympic latte below.

Closing ceremony

The closing ceremony will take place on 25th February.

The Men’s ice hockey final will take place on this day along with the Lunge, Ski jumping and biathlon events which will take place at night, lit by floodlights.

The final medal count will be in and the winners of the Winter Games 2018 named.

Where next?

The next winter Olympics will be in four years time, 2022 and will be held in Beijing.

The next Summer Olympics are scheduled for 2020 and will be held in Tokyo.



Samantha Dixon - ESE Malta Author: Samantha Dixon

About the Author: Samantha is British and has taught English as a foreign language in several different countries including Thailand and Finland. She has been with ESE since March 2016 and is now working as part of the Marketing team as a Marketing Executive. Samantha enjoys being creative, painting and writing when time allows. She also enjoys spending time with her 4 year old son and her new baby daughter, soaking up the Maltese sun.