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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pyeongchang Weather troubles ! ~ first Gold in Winter Olympics 2018


Pyeongchang has already carved out a name with the ongoing Winter Olympics 2018.  At the opening ceremony, one thousand residents of Gangwon Province entered the stage, before standing in the formation in dove, holding lit candles. The enthusiasm of these particular individuals  was very impressive.  One of the biggest surprises of the night was the identity of the roster of famous faces that would sing in the centre of the Dove ~ who would alight the cauldron was also kept a secret.

As the games progressed, Lim Hyo-jun gave hosts South Korea their first gold at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with victory in the 1500m short-track speed skating event. The 21-year-old went to the head of the field halfway through and stayed out of trouble in the closing stages. He finished 0.070 seconds clear of Dutch world record holder Sjinkie Knegt.  The Olympic Athletes from Russia earned their first medal when Semen Elistratov took bronze.

Proverbially, it is always the first that matters most and the first gold went to Sweden.  Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla upset a record-breaking Marit Bjoergen as she won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the women’s 7.5km + 7.5km skiathlon  In the first medal event of the Winter Olympics on Saturday, Kalla won the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon by more than seven seconds. Later in the day, Lim crossed the finish line first in the men's 1,500-meter short-track speedskating event, setting off a huge roar from a capacity crowd at Gangneung Ice Arena.

Then there was the  most highly anticipated hockey match in the nation’s history – the first time an ‘All Korean’ team  competing in an international event.  Made up of players from the pariah communist North and the Olympic-host South, the women of the ‘unified’ team took their places in the record books as they stepped out on to the ice.  The rink roared as the All Korea team took to the ice. Glamorous North Korean cheer-leaders packed the front row of the stand and chanted in unison as the game against firm favourites Switzerland began.
unified Korean flag

They shouted: ‘Win, win, our players win!’ Families with children filled the other seats, with kids waving ‘All Korea’ flags and bursting into raptures whenever the ‘national’ team took possession of the puck.  While Olympic organisers have tried to separate politics from sport over the years, the team has been put together under the ‘All Korea’ flag between the rival states to promote peace and reconciliation. South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in had invited North Korea’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong-nam to watch the match together, following a landmark meeting.  In return North Korea’s dear leader invited President Moon to talks in Pyongyang, in a hand-written leader delivered by his sister. This would be the first summit between the two Koreas in over a decade. Kim Yo-jung, the North Korean leader’s sister, sat with the South Korean president, in the stand to watch the match. The powerful pair watched intently throughout the game – rising from their seats when it appeared the All Korean team had a chance on goal.   Unfortunately for the team, Switzerland beat them 8-0.

There are many aspirants hoping for medals ~ racing at 35mph on blades 1mm thick, Britain's best hope for gold will begin her bid for Winter Olympic glory  in a blur of flying blonde hair and Lycra-clad limbs.  Elise Christie, 27, the triple world champion at short-track speed skating, is a star in the most adrenaline-fuelled events of the Games, which opened in South Korea yesterday.  She has a big point to prove, after crashing out of all her three disciplines the last time around in 2014.  That disaster led to online death threats, but there is steel in the 5ft 3in Scot, who says: 'You have to be odd to be number one.' Elise won the 1,000m, 1,500m and overall world titles last year, and is the world record holder over 500m.

It is not tough for the athletes alone ~ the harsh temperatures at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have left BBC presenters struggling to talk as make-up freezes to their faces. As the mercury dipped down to -23C in South Korea the broadcaster's electronic equipment has also been packing in. The freezing conditions prompted BBC presenter Amy Williams, the former skeleton racer and Olympic gold medallist, to tweet: 'So anyone know of good make up that is oil based?  The BBC have presenters Eilidh Barbour, 35, and Radzi Chinyanganya, 31, to report live from the action at the side of slopes and tracks.

Barbour too complained about the conditions, tweeting: 'Will PyeongChang be too cold even for a Winter Olympics? It's not just me looking for the blankets. 'Even the skis are struggling to cope. My Samsung dies too. And my wireless headphones. It's a clear indication we should be inside rather than outside.' It is reported that  make-up artists have struggled dealing with the extreme cold and have been frantically searching for alternative make-up solutions so the talent can still look good on camera as well as getting their words out without their teeth chattering.

Interesting challenges ~  ~  however, that  freezing temperatures proved no obstacle to Tongan cross country skier Pita Taufatofua. He appeared topless in his national costume at the opening ceremony with just oil on his torso to keep out the cold, waving the flag of his tiny Polynesian nation. Nor did the conditions stop Team Bermuda from wearing their country's namesake shorts at the ceremony.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Feb 2018.

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