9 Days Until PyeongChang 2018

The Games

In just over a week the 23rd (XXIII) Olympic Winter Games will commence in PyeongChang, South Korea. It will be the first of three straight Olympics to take place in Asia (Tokyo 2020 summer games, Beijing 2022 winter games) and the first city in Asia outside of Japan to host the Winter Olympics.

If you’ve never really paid close attention to the Olympics you might be surprised to hear that the winter version is minuscule compared to summer. All the events fit into just 15 categories and around 300 total medals will be handed out—as opposed to the summer games where there are 41 categories and nearly 1,000 medals up for grabs. For ease of following, the 15 events can be further divided into seven groupings:

Downhill skiing Cross country skiing Other skiing Sliding Skating Team games Snowboard Events
Alpine skiing Biathlon Ski jumping Bobsleigh Short track Curling (Various)
Freestyle skiing Cross country Nordic combined Luge Speed skating Hockey
Skeleton Figure skating
For Spectators

As far as watching the events, the 14 hour time difference from the US Eastern time zone to Korea makes it a little complicated, but NBC has held the TV broadcasting contract in the US for as long as I can remember so their Olympics website is a decent resource. Events can be found live on several different NBC networks meaning that those with a robust cable package will have access more wonky winter sporting events than they can watch.

For Sports Fans

It’s worth noting that, after pausing in the middle of its season for each of the last five Winter Olympics, the NHL announced last April that it would no longer participate. This means that players will not be excused from their teams to go compete on behalf of their country. For some players and countries this is devastating news, but Russia probably cares more than anybody and they got banned from the Olympics anyway, right? Sorry, couldn’t help it. Seriously though, there is some serious star power missing with the NHL sitting it out.

The absence of big name hockey players means that the most recognizable American faces will likely belong to snowboarders if you can believe it. The once fringe sport has been so marvelously marketed over the years that competitors like Shaun White and Lindsey Jacobellis might be the most famous American’s there. Of course the skiers (two-plankers) don’t want to hear that the snowboarders (knuckle-draggers) are arriving in PyeongChang with more notoriety than them. After all, gold medalists like Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn certainly carry plenty of their own cache.

Also some people enjoy figure skating.

“For God and Country”

Even if you don’t have all the channels or don’t know all the names, the Olympics are actually quite easy to embrace. From the 9th to the 25th of February, all you have to do is tune into NBC every evening (free over the air in stunning HD to anyone with a TV and a digital antenna) and cheer for the athletes wearing red, white, and blue. The broadcast is formatted to be a recap of all the day’s action so it’s rarely live, but it spoon-feeds you all the key moments, prominently features the golden-voiced Bob Costas, and focuses on the American athletes. Feel free to break out the U-S-A!! chant as often as you like—even though it annoys every other country in the world—because for 16 days, we all know what team we’re cheering for.