Further east, the “Coastal Cluster” city of Gangneung will feature five new venues, including an indoor ice rink for curling and an ice hockey arena. The city also includes the newly opened Gangneung Ice Arena for figure skating and short track speed skating events. (South Korea loves its short-track speed skaters. The country has won more Olympic medals in the sport than any other nation since the event officially debuted in 1992.)
Meanwhile, a new high-speed train line is being laid down between PyeongChang and Seoul that will cut a trip that typically takes nearly three hours to just under one hour. With new roads and hotels, South Korea hopes to expand PyeongChang’s popularity as a tourist destination following the Games. The country is expected to spend $7 billion on infrastructure.
Top athletes chasing gold
With 15 sport disciplines in contention, viewers will have no shortage of dynamic athletes to follow during the Olympic Winter Games, regardless of which event they like best. Long-track speed-skating fans, for instance, will be curious to see if South Korea’s Lee Sang-hwa, a Team Visa athlete, can bring home her third gold medal in the 500-meter sprint following victories at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010.* U.S. freestyle skier David Wise, also a Team Visa athlete, will be looking to defend his 2014 gold in the halfpipe.*
Four new events will also join The Winter Olympics lineup for the first time in 2018: big air in snowboarding and in freestyle skiing, mass start in speed skating and mixed doubles in curling. The International Olympic Committee said it chose the events based on added value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; and gender equality.
Of course, no Olympic Winter Games would be complete without a mascot, and in keeping with the spirit of PyeongChang, the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 has one that mixes tradition with the new. “Soohorang” is based on the white tiger, long considered South Korea’s guardian animal.
As the world counts down to the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron, PyeongChang will continue to ready itself for presentation on the world stage. It will polish its past and buff its future, so to speak, until both shine as bright as the glint of a gold medal.