The countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympics is now on with just two months to go until the Games get underway in the South Korean city of PyeongChang. Marking the 23rd edition of the Winter Olympics, over 2,000 athletes from nearly 100 different countries are expected to descend on the city for what is the first ever Winter Olympics to take place in South Korea.
Getting underway on 9 February, the Games will commence with a spellbinding opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium which seats over 50,000 spectators. The action will also be beamed to millions of people all over the world. The closing ceremony will then take place on 25 February with The Winter Paralympics taking place a month later.
Here at Champions Olympic Speakers, we have compiled everything you need to know about the Games.
This year’s Winter Olympics will make history as a record 102 medals across 15 different sports are on offer to athletes. This year will also see four new sports make their debuts at the Games including mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating, mixed team alpine skiing and big air snowboarding will replace the parallel slalom.
One of the standout events at every Winter Olympics is ice hockey. In 2014, Canada came out on top defeating Sweden in the final to take the gold medal. In 2018, twelve teams will battle it out for the prize. Three groups of four will compete to determine seeding before heading into a knockout stage.
However, this year for the first time since 1988 North America’s National Hockey League (NHL) revealed they will not include their traditional mid-season break for the Olympics. This is usually done so players can represent their countries at the games, however due to a dispute over insurance payments the NHL rejected the opportunity to incorporate the break.
Instead teams will have to pick players from other minor professional leagues, meaning some of the world’s biggest players will be absent.
Athletes to watch
In their entire Winter Olympics history, Great Britain have only won 26 medals, tending to perform better at the summer Games. However, a funding boost in recent years has seen a rise in participation with new initiatives and charities being set up in an attempt to get future GB hopefuls to engage in winter sports from a young age.
Data analysts have predicted Great Britain will have their best ever Winter Games in 2018 and there are plenty of athletes hoping to demonstrate this in Pyeongchang. Lizzy Yarnold MBE is perhaps one of the most famous British winter sport athletes, winning gold in the skeleton event in 2014. She’ll be hoping to become the first ever Briton to successfully defend her Winter Olympics title.
Short track speed skating is another discipline Britain look particularly strong in this year with Elise Christie the sports star name. She left Russia medal-less in 2014 and is hoping to perform better this time around with some pundits predicting she could become Britain’s first ever Winter Games athlete to win more than one medal. The national sport of South Korea is short track, so competition will be fierce.
Both GB’s men and women’s curling teams medalled in Sochi, and there is every chance the team’s can build on this success in two months’ time. There is more opportunities to medal in the sport this time, as a new mixed doubles event is being incorporated, so Eve Muirhead alongside her brothers Tom and Glen will be hoping for success in the event.
However, it wouldn’t be a major sporting event without plenty of talking points, and the controversy has started before the Games has even begun. As usual the hot topic surrounding the Games is doping and the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Russia are traditionally one of the most successful nations at the Winter Olympics, sitting ninth on the all-time medal table with 113 medals (the Soviet Union are fourth with 193) however the country’s recent doping scandal they have been banned from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
This means more of an opportunity for other nations to scoop the medals the Russians would have won, but it does not mean we will not see any Russians in Pyeongchang. Before the blanket ban, 25 Russian athletes had already been banned but those who can prove they are clean will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
The decision has been criticised by politicians throughout Russia with suggestions of a boycott being mooted. Whatever the case, it is a story that looks set to rumble on long into the Games itself.
Champions Olympic Speakers will keep you up to date with all the latest goings on from the Winter Olympic Games when it gets underway in February and can also provide a host of fantastic speakers for events and conferences. For more information call +44 1509 85 29 27 or complete our online form.