Olympic Facts for Your Friday

Here are some interesting Olympics facts for your final Friday of the 2018 Winter games.  Why? Because the Olympics are awesome!

Image Credit: The Olympic Rings in Sochi, 2014. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

The Music

The renowned American composer, John Williams, has been a composer for Olympic music since 1984.  His 1996 piece “Bugler’s Dream and Olympic Fan” can be heard on NBC during coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.  Williams  has composed music for four different Olympics (1984, 1988, 1996 and 2002).  He is also well-known for some of the most recognizable film scores, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park.

The Sports

The games this year feature 102 events in 15 different sports.  New events added in 2018 include:

  • Big Air Snowboarding
  • Mass-Start Speed Skating
  • Mixed Doubles Curling
  • Mixed Team Alpine Skiing

The Host “City”

The IOC typically selects a host city about 7 years prior to the games.   PyeongChang, South Korea (pronounced Pee-Yung-Chong NOT Pee-Yong-Chang) won the bid over cities in Germany and France.  The 2018 games represents the first time that South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics (they hosted the 1988 Summer games in Seoul).  PyeongChang actually refers to the county, rather than a city.  The majority of the games are actually being held in Daegwallyeong-myeon (mountain events) and Gangneung (ice events).

The Torch Relay

Although not a highlight of the games, one of the things I loved about the 2018 Winter Olympics is their very symbolic and unique torch relay.  According to wikipedia, “there were 7,500 torch bearers to represent the Korean population of 75 million people. There were also 2018 support runners to guard the torch and act as messengers.”  I love how they represented their nation in this unique way. I also loved the various different ways they used to transport the torch, including a zip wire, cable car, turtle ship, robots,  and steam train!

The Athletes

Pita Taufatofua – While most people recognize him as the shirtless flag-bearer from Tonga, I was impressed by his appearance for another reason.  Despite living in a tropical nation with no snow, Taufatofua (who competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) switched to cross-country skiing.  He managed to qualify for the 2018 Winter games on the final day of the qualification period.

Adam Rippon – Not only does this figure skater have his own signature move, dubbed the “Rippon Lutz”, he is also the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics (bronze in the 2018 team event).  He is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and against quiet starvation in athletics.

Askel Lund Svindal –  After a skiing accident in 2016, Svindal damaged his knee and underwent surgery on it in January 2017.  Despite these setbacks, Svindal became his Norway’s first downhill gold medallist at the 2018 games, and at the age of 35 he is the oldest man to win an alpine skiing gold. 

Vincent Zhou – At age 17, he’s the youngest American competing at the 2018 winter games.  During his short program, he landed a quad lutz. A quad lutz is the most difficult move currently recognized as achievable! Nobody before him has ever successfully landed one at the games before.

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