The Main Ticket Center in the Seoul City Hall
I had been thinking for quite some time that the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games would provide a great and rare opportunity for my kids to see a variety of winter sports in person all at once, without going overseas. But driving to Pyeongchang is a 4 to 5-hour affair from Naju. To make things efficient, I decided to make the trip during this year's Lunar New Year holidays. Before visiting my parents in my home town as per tradition, the family would visit Seoul and Pyeongchang first.
With tickets in hand, Celine was excited to attend the Winter Olympics
Why Seoul? When I booked the tickets online, there were options to print out the tickets or load them on the smartphone. But I wanted to have the "official" tickets on hand, which could be picked up at the Main Ticket Center. One of such places were set up in the Seoul City Hall, so I drove there early in the morning to get the tickets, then spend a day in Seoul at an amusement park before heading to Pyeongchang. The kids certainly liked this arrangement.
Road signs have been modified and added to assist drivers going to Olympic venues
After spending a night at a hotel in Wonju, which was midway between Seoul and Pyeongchang, we headed out early next morning. The 3rd and 4th heats of the Men's Skeleton event were to start at 9:30AM and we didn't want to miss anything. The road signs kindly directed us to the Daegwallyeong Transport Mall, where a huge parking lot and several shuttle bus stops for spectators visiting the Pyeongchang Mountain Cluster area were set up.
Celine and Hayun get a taste of the freezing temperature at Daegwallyeong Transport Mall
Once I parked the car, we prepared everyone for the ridiculously frigid weather. They weren't joking when this Winter Olympic Games is one of the coldest in history.
Lining up to ride the TS11 shuttle bus to Olympic Sliding Centre
A shuttle service that directly goes to the Olympic Sliding Centre was ready for boarding as soon as we got to the bus stop. We wasted no time in getting to the venue.
Once the shuttle bus dropped us off after 15 minutes of drive, we walked uphill, following the signs...
...and joined the massive line of people next to the PMR Breakfast Restaurant
The pedestrian screening process was efficient and the lines were being cleared quickly
My family was cleared to go the venue in 20 minutes
We still needed to walk uphill 10 minutes more to arrive at the Olympic Sliding Centre
It took us 70 minutes to go from the parking lot to the track, arriving moments after the start of the event. Just as we stepped into the finishing zone, the first racer, Yun Sungbin, appeared in front of us completing his third run. As we found a spot to watch the event unfold, the second racer, Martins Dukurs, started his run. There were so many spectators - the seats had been sold out weeks before, and the standing area was getting crowded.
Martins Dukurs of Latvia, the long-standing Skeleton champion, was heading towards the finish when we settled into position
Fans of Yun Sungbin, the rising Korean Skeleton racer, were holding up banners near the concession stands and spectator seats
Hayun posed in front of a Skeleton racer coming into finish line
Meanwhile, Celine was busy taking notes of the event
Jamaica's Anthony Watson was the second slowest racer of the 3rd heat, allowing us to take a clearer photo of his finish
As we watched all 30 competitors' 3rd run, we could slowly tell apart the faster racers from the slower ones. The top competitors would zoom past us literally in a blink of an eye, but the slower ones were easier to track. Of course, the raw speed and courage on display were impressive regardless of their standings.
Because the television camera shooting the finish line was just ahead of us, none of us appeared on TV
The entire 3rd heat of the race finished in just an hour. But the ice on the track had to be resurfaced, so there was a 45-minute break time. It was probably the most boring and shivery time we had to endure. We had hoped that it was worth the wait.