Winter Olympics on Campus


Emily Solomon, Staff Reporter

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea, has been a year of firsts but also a year of surprises. This year marks the most equal gender representation in a Winter Olympic games thus far in history, with 43 percent of overall athletes being female.

The games started off in a historic manner, with North and South Korea marching under a unified flag at the Opening Ceremony. Team USA came out with a bang right off the bat, marching 242 athletes at the Ceremony, the most in Winter Olympic History.

So far, the USA trails Norway, Germany and Canada in the medal count (nine gold medals and 23 overall), with a recent gold coming from the women’s hockey national team. The rivalry between the U.S. and Canada has been one of the greatest in Winter Olympic history, and this year shows why.

The U.S. women’s hockey team snatched gold in a thrilling overtime win against Canada on Feb. 21, giving the Canadian national team its first loss since 1998. Canada came in to the game riding a 24-game winning streak, including beating out the Americans in the Gold medal game in 2002, 2010 and 2014. This was the third consecutive Olympics that the U.S. and their northern neighbors have faced off in a gold medal game, and the American victory marks its first gold medal in 20 years.

Whitman students have taken an exceptional interest in this year’s games, including senior Amelia Wells.

“I honestly enjoy watching any event,” Wells commented. “My particular favorite is hockey because I love team sports and it is really fast-paced and exciting.”

The U.S. men’s curling team also just beat Canada to advance to their first gold medal match, taking the semifinal 5-3. With a record of 2-4, hopes for winning gold were not high for the United States, but four consecutive victories, including two over three-time gold medal winning Canada, gave the U.S. a shot at taking home their first gold.

The U.S. took that shot and ran with it, defeating Sweden 10-7 in the gold medal match on Saturday. After this historic national victory, the team hopes to make curling more than a cultural curiosity, but rather, a sport loved by America just as much as it is by other countries.

Whitman resident directors Luke Hampton and Adam Dawson enjoy watching Olympic curling and even made their own version of street curling in the winter of 2016.

“We went through a big phase of watching the most obscure sports we could find on ESPN3 and getting really into them,” Hampton said. “A few games, Google searches and YouTube explanation videos later and we were obsessed with curling.”

Along with their homemade version of Olympic curling, Dawson and Hampton took a special interest in American freestyle skier, Elizabeth Swaney who, according to Hampton, is “a fine skier but nowhere near Olympic level.”

Swaney somehow found a way to compete at the national level without attempting any tricks and not getting more than a foot in the air in her halfpipe run.

New faces have defined Team USA in this year’s Olympics, with many teenage athletes making headlines in their respective events. Seventeen year-old Red Gerard took gold in men’s snowboarding, making him the youngest snowboarder to ever medal at the Olympics.

Jamie Anderson took home gold for the Team USA in women’s snowboarding, but things did not go as smoothly as anyone could have planned for. Many athletes were upset that the final race was not postponed due to unpleasant weather conditions, but miraculously, through the rough and windy race, Anderson came out on top.

Shawn White took gold in men’s snowboarding in a nail-biting victory against Japan’s Ayumu Hirano–that was a close run until the very end. Seventeen year-old Chloe Kim earned gold in her blowout performance in the women’s halfpipe.

The women’s cross country ski team added to Team USA’s gold medal collection with their thrilling finish in the team sprint on Feb. 21. The Americans had not medaled in cross country skiing in over 40 years, swiping gold right out of the hands of Sweden and Norway, who were expected to be the top two finishers.

The 2018 Olympics have been one for the books, especially with young athletes making a name for themselves and successfully representing their countries. Norway has broken a Winter Olympic Games record with 38 total medals, 13 of those gold. If only we didn’t now have to wait two more years for the summer games.