The 2018 Winter Olympics and the Paralympics
By Sarah Lange
The Olympic Games that we are currently familiar with started in Athens, Greece in 1896, based on those held in Olympia, Greece from 776 BC to 393 AD. Not surprisingly, the 1503 year gap spurred some important changes: international athletes were allowed to compete, the religious festival honoring Zeus was eliminated, and individual winners were crowned in each event- rather than only one overall victor. Further, as of 1900, women were allowed to compete, which was an unprecedented opportunity for equality on a global scale. The tradition of the Olympics has continued ever since, occuring every four years, with the exception of 1916, 1940, and 1944, when the Games were cancelled due to World War I and World War II.
Originally held only during the summer, an idea was pitched to compete in events that involved colder temperatures. As a result, the Winter Olympic games were established in 1924, hosted in Chamonix, France. Since 1924, a total of 23 Winter Games have been held, with the exception of the 1940 and 1944 Games, called off because of World War II.
South Korea lost their bid to host the Winter Olympics in both 2010 and 2014, but they were finally given the opportunity to organize the 2018 games; thus, the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics were scheduled. The torch relay began on October 24, 2017, starting in Olympia, Greece and lasting until February 9, 2018 at The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. This year’s Games featured 102 events in 15 sports, with over 90 countries competing.
Action started right away in events such as snowboarding, curling, figure skating, and ice hockey. Viewers from every corner of the globe were able to watch and support their country through a variety of competitions and tournaments. Final standings for the Winter Olympics are as follows: Norway leads the pack with a whopping 14 gold medals, with 39 medals total; Germany, right on their tail, with 14 gold medals and 31 medals overall; and in third place is Canada with 11 gold medals and 29 medals overall. The closing ceremonies were held at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on February 25, 2018, featuring popular modern artists and performing groups. At the ceremony, the countries shared a final celebration to honor the true intent of the Olympics: to promote world peace and unity through international community of athletes and competition.
Ending with 9 gold medals and 23 medals overall, America finished in fourth place. Despite setbacks, such as athletes oversleeping or misplacing their coats on the day of competition, they still had tremendous success, with victories in men and women’s snowboarding, women’s alpine skiing, women’s cross-country skiing, men’s freestyle skiing, and women’s ice hockey. The American competitors included two of the youngest competitors that the Winter Olympics have ever seen: seventeen-year-old Chloe Kim, the youngest female to ever win gold, and seventeen-year-old Red Gerard, the youngest American man to win gold in over 90 years.
The Winter Paralympic Games, a multi-event competition for athletes with handicaps and impairments, which will be hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea and will take place from March 8th, 2018 to March 18th, 2018. This ten day event features sports such as snowboarding, alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling.
The Paralympic Games not only give disabled athletes the chance to prove how success and athleticism can be achieved at any physical state, but also provide a unique set of athlete role models that anyone can look up to for examples of those who demonstrate relentless determination and resolve. Just as the with Winter Olympics, the Paralympics are designed to bring together different countries throughout the world in a competition that empowers athletes from all cultures and promotes global cooperation between countries.