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Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 Winter Olympics

Sep 15, 2017

The 2018 Winter Olympics are drawing near, and this iteration of the international games will include new events, new ways to watch and, most likely, new records.

Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games, including when and where the Olympics will take place:

Where are the 2018 Winter Olympics?

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang in South Korea. After previous failed bids, the city beat Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, as the venue for the upcoming games during the International Olympic Committee's 123rd IOC Session in South Africa in 2011.

While Pyeongchang has never hosted an Olympics, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. This upcoming event will be the first time South Korea has hosted a Winter Olympics. More than 100 miles east of Seoul, Pyeongchang County is located in the Gangwon province of South Korea in the Taebaek Mountains. Pyeongchang's elevation makes it a popular destination for hiking and skiing. Many of the events will be held at Alpensia Sports Park, which is part of the popular Alpensia Resort in the county.

When will the Olympics start?

The Olympic games will begin on February 8, 2018, and end February 25, 2018. While the games' Opening Ceremony will take place on Friday, February 9, the first competitive events will happen on February 8.

What sports are in the Winter Olympics?

The Winter Olympics will feature 15 sports with individual and team events. A number of the sports take place on the slopes: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboard. The rest take place on ice: curling, bobsled, figure skating, hockey, luge, short track, skeleton and speed skating.

Within the 15 sports, there will be 102 events where athletes will have the chance to earn a gold, silver or bronze medal for their countries. In 2018, six new medaled events were added to the schedule. Those events include a team event for alpine skiing, mixed doubles curling, men's and women's big air for snowboarding and men's and women's mass start for speed skating.

Which U.S. athletes will be competing?

The majority of the sports for the winter Olympics have not yet had their qualifying events. In Sochi in 2014, Team USA included 230 athletes. That's a smaller number of athletes than the group who traveled to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics, where 558 athletes represented the United States.

The full list of the athletes competing for Team USA likely won't be available until January, when the Olympics qualifications are complete.

Here's a list of athletes who have already qualified for Team USA for 2018:

  • Lowell Bailey, Biathlon
  • Susan Dunklee, Biathlon

While they technically have not qualified yet, here are some athletes who will likely make a big impact for Team USA:

  • Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Skiing): After injuries kept her out of the 2014 Olympics, Vonn is gearing up for a triumphant return. In 2010, she was first American woman to ever win the gold medal in the 2010 downhill race. She has also won four overall World Cup championships
  • Ashley Wagner (Figure Skating): A bronze medalist in Sochi, Wagner could return as a demonstrable force for Team USA. In 2016, Wagner broke a 10-year-long medal drought at the World Championships with a silver medal.
  • Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing): Shiffrin would be the returning slalom champion this year, after being the youngest champion in that event in Olympics history in Sochi in 2014. At age 22, she currently has the second-most World Cup wins by an American woman — behind Vonn.
  • Shaun White (Snowboarding): A two-time Olympic gold medalist, White is focusing this year solely on the halfpipe. Though he won the event previously, White placed fourth in Sochi. The athlete also has the record for the most X Games gold medals.
  • Chloe Kim (Snowboarding): Though she was too young to compete in Sochi, Kim could leave a huge mark on the halfpipe for Team USA. At the 2016 U.S. Grand Prix at age 15, Kim became the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s on the halfpipe, in an event where she scored a perfect 100 points.
  • Maia and Alex Shibutani (Figure Skating): The siblings are three-time World medalists, earning bronze in ice dancing in 2017. They appear to be the new pair to watch, after 2014 Sochi gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White announced they would not compete to defend their title in Pyeongchang.
  • Erin Hamlin (Luge): A three-time Olympian, Hamlin was the first ever female American luger to win a medal in luge after taking home bronze in Sochi.

How can I watch?

NBC will once again broadcast the Olympics — but this time, the network is changing it up. For the first time, NBC will broadcast the Olympic Games live in all time zones. In the past, U.S. viewers had to wait to watch delayed tape of the events — with the most anticipated events often appearing during primetime. This meant many viewers were susceptible to spoilers before having a chance to see the competition unfold.

The games will be broadcast on TV on NBC Universal networks, including NBC and NBCSN. The games can also be live streamed or watched on demand on NBCOlympics.com, as well as on the NBC Sports app.

You can expect to watch the Olympics on NBC for the foreseeable future. The network has ownership of the rights for the games through 2032. However, the network's longtime primetime anchor Bob Costas will no longer fill that role. Mike Tirico will take Costas's place.

Are there any controversies ahead of the Olympics?

With just a few months until the Opening Ceremony, the Winter Olympics has not sold as many tickets as expected — potentially due to a series of North Korea weapons tests, according to the Associated Press. South Korea is hoping for more than 1 million spectators — including 750,000 locals — to enjoy the 2018 Winter Olympics, but only 52,000 locals purchased tickets during the first phase of sales from February through June 2017. Lee Hee-beom, the president of the organizing committee in Pyeongchang, told the AP it is unlikely North Korea would interfere with the Olympics, since some of the nation's athletes could potentially compete in the events.

Additionally, while Russia slated to compete in the upcoming games, some have debated whether the country should be banned from international competition due to its doping scandal, according to NBC Sports. In December 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency alleged there was an "institutional conspiracy" of doping in Russia, and some of the samples for the Sochi games were tampered with. The International Olympic Committee has not issued a ban on all Russian athletes competing in Pyeongchang, and will make a decision on Russia's participation in the games in fall 2017.

Also, the National Hockey League announced it would not participate in the Winter Olympic Games — which means the league won't provide accommodates for its athletes and will not include a break for the Olympics in the 2017-2018 NHL season schedule. The decision came after a dispute with the International Olympic Committee over whether the IOC would cover the costs incurred by NHL players participating in the event, as the IOC had done in the past. The IOC decided not to pay these costs in 2018. The NHL did not participate in the 1988, 1992 or 1994 Winter Olympics due to the interruption required in its schedule.

What is the official Winter Olympics mascot this year?

Following several decades of tradition, the 2018 Winter Olympics has its own mascot. "Soohorang," an animated white tiger, is the symbol for the upcoming Olympics. In Korea, the white tiger is known as the country's "guardian animal," according to the Olympics' website.

The name "Soohorang" is a combination of several Korean words meant to symbolize the Olympics and the mascot. "Sooho" means "protection" in Korean; "rang" comes from the Korean name for tiger, "ho-rang-i," as well as the folk song "Jeong-seon A-ri-rang," the traditional song of the Gangwon Province, which is where the Olympics will take place.

OLY-2018-PYEONGCHANG-SKI JUNG YEON-JE—AFP/Getty Images 

The tradition of having an Olympic mascot started in Grenoble during the 1968 Olympics with "Schuss," a skier. Mascots now generally take the form of an animal, with some Olympic Games opting for several mascots to represent the special event.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, "Vinicius," a combination of a cat, monkey and bird, was the mascot and symbolized wildlife found in Brazil.

Which country won the most medals in the 2014 Sochi Olympics?

In the last Winter Olympics, Russia came out on top with 33 medals. The United States earned the second-most with 28, and Norway came in third with 26.

Where will the 2020, 2022 and 2024 Olympics be held?

The next Winter Olympics, in 2022, will be held in Beijing, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008. The 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, and the 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris. Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics. The host city for the 2026 Winter Olympics has not yet been determined.

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