The Highland Echo

Olympics open in PyeongChang

Olympic rings overlook as the skiing competition takes place at the Winter Games.

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Olympic rings overlook as the skiing competition takes place at the Winter Games.

Jared Miller, Sports Editor

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The Winter Olympics are underway, taking place in South Korea for the first time since 1988. It’s going to be an exciting two weeks as countries from all over the world send athletes looking to bring home the gold medals for their native lands. With 15 sports and 102 events, the next two weeks in Pyeongchang are going to be filled with tons of action and excitement. Let’s go ahead and preview some of the sports that will be occurring for the next two weeks.

One sport that will be interesting to watch will be ice hockey. The NHL has decided not to allow any players who are part of the National Hockey League go to the Olympics to represent their countries. Thus, instead of having superstars dominate the event, countries will need to rely solely on college players, players who retired from the NHL, or players who decided to play overseas in European Leagues. Although some do not like the idea of the NHL not allowing their athletes to play in Pyeongchang, it will most definitely improve the competitive aspect of the 12 team tournament. Countries such as the USA and Canada will probably not dominate the event as they have in the past while facing up against weaker teams with little to no NHL caliber talent. The NHL may not be attending the Olympic games, but it is still an event to look forward to, and to see who will be bringing back gold.
Another event to look out for is curling. It has been over a decade since the last time the United States men’s curling team has won a medal. In prior Olympics games, curling was a sport typically dominated by Canada or Great Britain, and the United States team looks to change that and make its way back to the podium.

The biggest surprise in the qualification rounds for the Winter Olympics came from women’s figure skating. Ashley Wagner, one of the skaters who everyone believed was going to be able to secure a spot on the team and even have the chance to bring home a medal for the United States team, astonishingly missed making the team. In response, she took to social media to say that she was furious about the decision. With a bronze medal performance in the 2014 Sochi games, Wagner was looking to work her way back to the Olympics with the hope of winning gold. That will not happen this year for Wagner, but the U.S. women’s figure skating team will still look to bring home gold. The skaters competing for the United States will be Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu, and Karen Chen.

Sports in which the U.S. wants to keep its prior success are snowboarding and skiing. At the 2014 Sochi games, America brought back eight of its nine gold medals from these events, two being from men’s freestyle, two from women’s halfpipe, as well as a few from men and women in slalom. The U.S. is also looking to keep success in skeleton, bobsled, and luge events, where multiple silver medals were won. They will look to respond this year in Pyeongchang with more gold medals than they’ve had in the past.

The United States had a total of 28 medals in Sochi, ranking third overall. A majority of those medals were bronze, and this year for the two weeks of competition, the US will be looking to capture gold and improve upon the overall medal count of the last winter games.

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Olympics open in PyeongChang