By Shannon Frost Greenstein
The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. Sportsmanship. Competition. Frostbite.
Tonight marks the broadcast of the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It marks the beginning of sixteen days of sporting events, with 102 medals up for grabs. It’s a unique Olympiad for a number of reasons, including a unified Korean team, the addition of new events, and the largest U.S. contingent sent to an Olympic games thus far.
It’s also really. freaking. cold.
Pyeongchang holds the honor as Earth’s coldest location at its particular latitude. They typically see below-freezing temperatures in the twenties and teens (Fahrenheit)…and that doesn’t even include wind chill, which is apparently BRUTAL. It’s literally too cold for snow, forcing artificial means to provide enough of the white stuff for the winter events. Water bottles are turning to ice nearly immediately. Phones won’t stay charged. The ski team is literally burning through skis, as the super-cold snow is warping the metal and rendering them useless.
And, let’s not forget, a lot of these events are taking place on a mountain top, where temperatures will be colder still.
You might think winter sports athletes would be prepared for the conditions, but even the Canadian team…probably better accustomed to cold weather training than anyone else…describe the wind in the Olympic village as a “nightmare.”
Still, hypothermia aside, this is setting up to be a great two plus weeks of competition. Probably most significant is North and South Korea competing as a unified “Korean” team, a first in the history of the modern Olympic games. Spectators can also look forward to such new events as mixed curling and mixed team alpine skiing.
Tune in to the opening ceremonies tonight at 8:00 p.m., and, as you watch the proud athletes, thank your lucky stars that you are somewhere warm.