by Sarah Gianni ‘18
This February the XXIII Olympic Winter Games were held in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, South Korea. Athletes from across the world competed on Korea’s center stage, participating in 102 events in 15 sports. The games spanned from Feb. 9-25 and marked several historical milestones.
A report from CNN highlighted that during the opening ceremony, athletes from North and South Korea walked in unison despite tensions between the two countries. In men’s snowboarding, 17-year-old Red Gerald won the first gold medal for team USA, becoming the youngest American to medal in a snowboarding event at the Olympics.
Another notable element was the number of openly gay athletes present. Canadian figure skater Eric Radford became the first openly gay Olympian to take home a gold medal during the winter games. Figure skater Adam Rippon and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy made headlines during the games through their promotion of LGBTQ+ pride on their social media pages during their respective competitions. In addition, Brittany Bowe—an openly gay speed skater—was nominated for American Female Athlete of the Olympic Games.
Among Providence College students, events such as snowboarding, figure skating, and curling were some of the favored competitions to watch. “I am a huge fan of Shaun White, and it was so exciting to see him compete for—and win—gold,” said Katie Shields ’18. White took the gold medal over Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano, redeeming himself after a tough performance in Sochi in 2014.
The USA men’s curling team had another momentous performance when they became the first American team to ever win gold in curling. “Curling is definitely my favorite winter Olympic sport to watch,” said David Lessard ’20. “It seems like a sport that takes a lot of strength and precision, and it was great to see team USA take home the gold.” Overall, team USA athletes were awarded a total of 23 medals.
The closing ceremony took place at 8 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 25. Despite missing a few athletes who had already traveled home, the ceremony was buzzing in celebration. “Although parting is sad, we will remember PyeongChang with beautiful memories,” said Lee Hee-beom, the PyeongChang Olympics organizing committee president. Thomas Bach, head of the international Olympic committee, said North and South Korea “have shown how sports bring people together in our very fragile world. You have shown how sport builds bridges.” To conclude, the Olympic torch was passed to Beijing, China, which will host the Winter Games in 2022. In the meantime, Tokyo will be home to the Summer Olympics in 2020.