By: Carter Caldwell
For fans of the Olympics, February did not disappoint. Running from February 9 to February 25, the 2018 Winter Olympics for first-time host Pyeongchang, South Korea, were a wild ride from start to finish, featuring more events than ever before (102), including six entirely new events: big air snowboarding (men’s and women’s), mass start speed skating (men’s and women’s), doubles curling (mixed), and team alpine skating (mixed). Coincidentally, 2018 also saw the debut of six new countries in the games: Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, Ecuador, Eritrea, and Kosovo. The United States was best represented at the games, sending a whopping 241 athletes to compete, compared to Canada’s 225 and the 168 “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” who could not compete under the Russian flag due to the ongoing Russian doping controversy.
Also controversial at the games was the participation of North Korean athletes, who crossed the Korean Demilitarized Zone to enter South Korea. During the Opening Ceremony, South Korean and North Korean athletes marched under the Korean Unification Flag, which led to some discomfort among the citizens of South Korea and members of the U.S. government, including Donald Trump. Despite talk of an Olympic boycott, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attended with his wife Karen Pence.
In all, Norway emerged victorious, with 39 medals (14 gold). Second and third were Germany and Canada, respectively, while the United States took fourth. Additionally, Norway and Germany both recorded podium sweeps: Norway in the men’s 30 km skiathlon and Germany in the individual large hill/10 km. The Netherlands also had a podium sweep in the women’s 3000 meter speed skating competition. A breakout performer for the United States turned out to be Nathan Chen, an 18-year-old figure skater from Salt Lake City, Utah, who became the first figure skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program. Shaun White won the United States their 100th Winter Olympics gold medal in the men’s halfpipe, an event he won in 2006 and 2010, but was lost in 2014 to Japan’s Ayumu Harano. Harano took second in 2018.