Right as Ryan: Winter Olympics on the Slopes

Ryan Chae, Sports Editor

Every four years, countries around  the world have the opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities in a three-week circuit. No, I’m not referring to the Summer Olympics, and no, not the FIFA World Cup– I’m talking about the Winter Olympics, which will begin in less than a month.

While some of the best athletes in the world, from ice skaters to bobsledders, compete for their country, the buzz and appeal of the winter sports have seemed to diminish over the last few years, in comparison to its summer counterpart and other sporting events. Filled with rich history and stories such as “The Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Games and the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled team, the Winter Olympics should have the attention of every sports fan and media  outlet.

Taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Winter Olympics is at the center of one of the hottest political locations in the world with North Korea neighboring the Olympics. Even more newsworthy is the first signs of possible peace between North and South Korea as the two countries plan to march under a unified flag at the opening ceremonies and form a joint women’s ice hockey team for the Games. With the possibility of peace in Korea, the whole world should be tuned into Pyeongchang.

In women’s figure skating, one of the most popular sport of the Olympics, three-time national champion and 2016 world silver medalist Ashley Wagner was shockingly left off of Team U.S.A., leading to criticism from the face of American figure skating. While losing one of the recognizable names of the sport can lessen interest, it should actually be more reason to watch the sport as viewers now have the possibility of watching skaters who could outperform the biggest figures of ice skating.

From the infamous Tonya Harding scandal in 1994 to the 2014 Sochi Games in which South Korea’s Yuna Kim was thought to be cheated out of a gold medal, the Winter Olympics has faced great amounts of controversy. This year is no different, with the Russian national teams being banned from all competition due to the statewide doping cover up over the last six years as well as the NHL preventing its players from participating in hockey. While the Winter Games has its fair share of drama, the inspiring stories overshadow the dark ones.

For legendary U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn and snowboarder Shaun White, 2018 looks to be the year of redemption. Vonn, who missed the Sochi Games after tearing her ACL, may be entering her final Olympics as she faces the possibility of retirement. The two-time medalist and the all-time World Cup wins holder has the chance to end her career on the highest of notes on the slopes of Korea.

White, on the other hand, did perform at Sochi, but poorly, as he placed fourth after crashing twice on the halfpipe. Since 2014, the 13-time X-Games gold medalist has been on a journey to prove he is still the face of snowboarding. The possibility of watching two of the greatest athletes of their respective sports taking back their rightful places at the top is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Nothing leaves an audience more inspired than a comeback story.

Nearly a century after its conception, the Winter Olympics is still at the forefront of sports. With a little over two weeks before the start, viewers all over the world should take advantage of witnessing what could be one of the most influential games of all time.