Attending PyeongChang 2018 - Golden Run & Gangneung

Witnessing the track being manually resurfaced after the third heat of the Men's Skeleton

An ice rink is generally resurfaced by driving a "Zamboni (ice resurfacer)" around. When I heard that the ice track was going to be resurfaced before the start of the 4th heat of the Men's Skeleton event, I wondered if a similar machine existed that went around the track. But it seems that the technology has not progressed that far yet - a group of men with hot air blower and brooms were sweeping and smoothing the track from the start to the finish. It was the one interesting moment in the otherwise uneventful 45-minute break before the final run that would determine the medalists.

4th heat snapshots - Yun Sungbin (top, gold medal) and Kim Jisoo (bottom, 6th place)

Starting at 11:15AM, the top 20 racers participated in their 4th heat in the ascending rank order. Korea's Kim Jisoo was lined up to be the 15th to run, while the already-dominant Yun Sungbin would race the last. As the racers went past the finish line one by one, the excitement grew. With the cheering crowd, Kim Jisoo put up a respectable performance and held onto his relative position. And on the final race of the event Yun Sungbin amazed everyone with a flawless, untouchable run. He was ahead of the 2nd place by a total of 1.63 seconds, which was massive considering Martins Dukurs lost out on a medal by a mere 0.11 seconds.

The whole place went wild, and we were elated to be witnessing such a historical event up close. It was the first time an Asian athlete won medal a sledding event in Olympics. Who would have thought that the colour of that medal would be gold, and that it would be won in such a dominant manner?

Here is how it looked like the moment Yun came through the finish line.

Yun Sungbin was hailed as the champion at the Venue Ceremony, but the large crowd made it hard to see from afar

Moments later, the Venue Ceremony celebrating the medalists was held at the Finish House. Unfortunately, the area was packed with people and it was practically impossible to see anything clearly. We just added to the cheering when the emcee announced Yun to the podium.

50.02 seconds was the track record Yun Sungbin set at his 4th and final run of the event

We weren't quite ready to let go of the excitement, so we took a photo in front of the display that showed Yun's final race time before heading down with everyone else.

As the excitement winded down, we went down to go back to the shuttle bus

Long lines had already formed at the parking lot, needing more than 30 minutes to catch a ride

We drove to North Gangneung Transport Mall to ride the TS20 shuttle bus to Gangneung Olympic Park

Initially, I planned to use the TS31 shuttle bus that operated between Pyeongchang (Daegwallyeong Transport Mall) and Gangneung (North Gangneung Transport Mall). But it did not come in a timely manner, so I just drove my family to Gangneung on the family car instead. Upon arrival, we were able to catch the TS20 shuttle bus that dropped us at the Olympic Park 15 minutes later.

We entered the Gangneung Olympic Park, with the Gangneung Oval (Speed Skating venue) behind us

It took a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes to go from the Olympic Sliding Centre to inside the Gangneung Olympic Park. It was a good thing that I bought tickets for the Men's Ice Hockey game that started at 16:40. It would have been too tight to attend an event earlier than that.

Canada's CBC Television was actively covering the Olympics

Reflecting the immense popularity of Ice Hockey in North America, it was not hard to come across the television crew of CBC from Canada and NBC from United States near the Gangneung Hockey Centre. The two companies have left opposing impressions for the Koreans. CBC's opening animation for the game coverage did an excellent job of highlighting the "look and feel" of the Korean culture, and even logo for the coverage was written in Korean - "2018 평창" - visible on the top right of the cameraman's padded coat.

As was NBC from United States, which also had a big studio set up in the venue (not shown)

On the other hand, one of NBC's commentator for the Olympics made culturally insensitive remarks regarding the Japanese occupation of Korea during the Opening Ceremony, causing great uproar. Even the way the company handled the situation afterwards was less than ideal, to say the least.

The huge Super Store had long lines of people wanting to buy all sorts of Olympics related merchandise

I think the mascots of the Pyeongchang Games - Soohorang for the Olympics and Bandabi for the Paralympics, were designed particularly well and were likable to most people. Reflecting this, the Super Store situated on the center of the Gangneung Olympic Park enjoyed very long waiting lines even into the evening. We couldn't afford enough time to enter the shop.

The Spectator Restaurant was full of people even at 3PM, but it was fairly orderly

Besides, it was already way past the lunch time and we hadn't had any meal since the morning, so we lined up at the Spectator Restaurant instead. Thankfully, the lines moved relatively quickly.

The food came out quick and tasted fine, while the price was understandably a bit expensive

You could select from 12 main dishes (Western, Korean, and Noodles) mostly priced between KRW 9,000 (US$8.30) to KRW 13,000 (US$12). They were slightly expensive than generally expected, but given how quickly yet cleanly they were served, I thought it was a reasonable trade-off. We were able to enjoy our meals peacefully, preparing us well for the next event.

After the late lunch, we moved to Gangneung Hockey Centre to watch the OAR-SLO match

Entering the Olympic Park required a ticket check, but we had a second check at the entrance of a specific venue. There was more than half an hour left until the start of the Men's Ice Hockey match between the Olympic Athelete from Russia and Slovenia, after we were inside the stadium, so we looked around to see if there was anything to do to pass time.

Hayun showed off her skills at the Olympic-themed augmented reality games in the stadium

One thing was this interactive, augmented reality based game that you could play with that was popular with the kids. If you moved exactly like what the screen told you to, you could earn big scores. Both Celine and Hayun had great fun with it.

The official merchandise store was packed with people and popular items like Soohorang doll were selling out

There was also a small Official Store that sold select number of popular merchandise. A few items did interested us, but the lines were again fairly long and we had to go to our seats before buying anything. I eventually bought a number of things during the 3rd Period of the game.


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