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all about KATY | January 2018 | Story credit: Complex author Chris Gains
This year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea promise all of the obscure sports in the world, and some other additional interesting factors. Given the doping scandals, Korean conflict, and some new events being added to the rotation, it’s sure to be an interesting Olympic Games.
Here are the nine things you need to know about the 2018 Winter Olympics ahead of the torch-lighting opening ceremony:
It’s in Pyeongchang, South Korea
This marks the second time that South Korea has hosted an Olympic Games: The 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games kick off on Thursday, February 8, with curling and ski jumping events. The opening ceremony will take place the following night, in Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Here are a couple of dates on which some popular sports will kick off:
-Figure skating starts Feb. 9
-Speed skating begins Feb. 10
-Alpine skiing begins Feb. 11
-Half-pipe snowboarding begins Feb. 13
-Men’s hockey begins Feb. 14
The closing ceremony will be held on Sunday, Feb. 25, also in Pyeongchang Stadium. As you could have probably guessed, all of the Winter Olympics telecasts will be broadcast on NBC or other Comcast-owned cable channels.
The Time Difference
Pyeongchang is 14 hours ahead of Eastern time, 15 ahead of Central time, 16 ahead of Mountain time, and 17 ahead of Western time. Plan accordingly if you want to watch bobsledding at your desk.
All Your Favorite Obscure Sports Will Be Back
15 sports will be played at this year’s Winter Olympic Games. This includes all of the classics: skiing, snowboarding, hockey, figure skating, speed skating, etc. These are the staples of the Winter Olympics, and are among the most popular sports the games have to offer then there are the others.
One of the staples of any Winter Olympics viewing is spending a half-hour or so every year watching some obscure sport you would normally have zero interest in. Bobsledding, luge, skeleton, etc. How do people get involved in these sports? I wouldn’t have the slightest clue where I’d go if I wanted to hit up the luge courses in my area. This year’s Winter Olympics feature four new events as well: curling mixed doubles, speed skating mass start, an alpine skiing team event, and big-air snowboarding.
Familiar U.S. Faces Will Be Back, Too
Five gold medalists from the 2014 Winter Olympics will be returning to compete for the Stars & Stripes in Pyeongchang in 2018. Legendary skier Lindsey Vonn — probably the most recognizable face on Team USA — will be competing in her fifth Olympic Games. Snowboarder Shaun White will be competing in his fourth.
Russia Will Not Be Back
As you have probably heard by now, Russia has been barred from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics after the International Olympic Committee found the country had engaged in "systemic manipulation" of anti-doping rules. Russia has also been stripped of four gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal from the 2014 Olympics as punishment for the scandal. Russian athletes, however, are not banned from the Olympics—so long as they can prove they are not doping. A delegation of athletes from Russia will be competing under a generic Olympics banner in Pyeongchang.
Neither Will NHL Players
For the first time since 1998, the NHL will not be sending its players to compete in the Olympic Games. This decision by the NHL stems from a conflict with the IOC over who would cover costs incurred by the players. The IOC had previously covered travel, insurance and other costs for NHL players, but said it would not do so in 2018.
The league was also concerned with the potential injury risk for its players. In 2014, for example, Islanders star John Tavares tore his ACL while playing for Canada and missed the rest of the season as a result. Injuries like this have the potential to cut into the league’s bottom line. This means that the players competing in Pyeongchang this year will come from the NCAA or professional leagues outside of the NHL.
This year’s Olympics also carry importance in the geopolitical realm. North Korea will be participating in Pyeongchang, which is a positive development in North-South relations — or at least whatever passes for positive relations by North Korean standards. The two countries have been holding talks for the first time since 2015, and have even discussed having their countries march together at the Olympics.
The North Koreans will be hoping that their game is as good as Kim Jong-Il’s golf skills: The late dictator’s biography infamously claimed that he hit 11 straight holes in one the first time he played golf.
This year’s mascot is less weird than past Olympic mascots
This year’s Olympic Games mascots will be Soohorang and Bandabi, a white tiger and an Asian black bear. As you can see, these Olympic mascots provide a friendly look that should appeal to children watching the games.
They’re far better than several past Olympic mascots, which are known for rather strange designs. A few examples include Wenlock & Mandeville, two cyclops-looking things from the 2012 London games; Izzy, the whacked-out 1996 Atlanta games mascot; and Athena & Pevos, the most generic-looking mascots possible, from the 2004 Athens games.