GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
By EMMA CHANG
On Friday, Feb. 9, thousands of lights illuminated the night sky in Pyeongchang, South Korea as the world kicked off its twenty-third Winter Olympics.
Conducted every four years, the Winter Olympics has become one of the largest sports competitions in the world. Countries from all around the world send their teams to compete in various sports for the gold on national television.
This year, the Winter Olympics are being held in PyeongChang, South Korea, the first Olympic Games to ever be held in Korea. Over two thousand athletes from ninety-three countries arrived to compete in a record-breaking 102 events from Feb. 9-25.
During the first few events of the Games, over eighty medals were awarded in various events. Though this number may not be shocking for the typically fast-paced Winter Olympics, the historical events and broken records are. In only five days, multiple athletes have demonstrated their spectacular abilities, marking only the beginning of another Olympic Games that will go down in history.
For example, twenty-four year old American figure skater Mirai Nagasu shocked the world after landing the vaunted triple axel during her performance. The triple axel is a trick that had never been landed by a female American skater at the Olympics before, making her not only the first American to land it, but also only the third woman to ever do so. As a result, Nagasu will return to the United States as both a bronze medalist and history maker.
Similarly, seventeen year old Chloe Kim entered the spotlight after winning her first gold medal in women’s halfpipe with a nearly perfect score of 98.25 points, despite this being her first year at the Olympics. Instantly, Kim became America’s new golden girl after demonstrating her talents and earning the title of youngest female gold medalist, amongst many other achievements.
However, athletic records are not the only things being broken at this year’s Olympics.
For the first time since its divide, North and South Korea publicly announced their unification under one flag and team during the Games. Whereas, in previous years, North Korea scarcely competed in the Games and chose to compete in only a few select events as its own team. Consequently, collective shock rippled around the world, because of the countries’ pre-existing tensions.
Despite initial hesitation, fans and athletes alike quickly welcomed North Korea with open arms, exhibiting the Olympics’ power to unite even the most incompatible of parties and—not to sound presumptuous—lead to something greater in the future between the two countries.
Though the future is uncertain, it is clear that we have only seen the beginning of what the Olympics will bring. Needless to say, the world can only sit back and watch as the best of our generation continues to demonstrate abilities beyond our wildest imaginations.