By JULIAN BELL
The 2018 Winter Olympics began on Feb. 9 and Team USA has collected six gold medals from a variety of athletes, including snowboarders Shaun White and Jamie Anderson. Team USA has also managed to win four silver and six bronze medals, for a total of 16 as of Feb. 21. The games will continue until Feb.25, when the closing ceremony is scheduled.
This year, the games are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which marks the first time the winter games have ever been hosted in a South Korean city. The only other time Olympics were held in Korea were the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. The opening ceremony featured a variety of artistic representations. Fireworks lit up the stadium sky, along with the surrounding mountains where events would be held. The stadium itself is shaped like a pentagon, which represents the five goals of the games: technology, arts, peace, economy, and the environment, according to Business Insider.
The official start of the show began with people dressed up as a large white tiger, who were followed by a group of children. Soon, other fictitious creatures emerged, which danced in the lit up stadium. President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, was introduced before the games began. Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence was also present.
The South Korean Flag was later brought into the stadium before the athletes from each country were brought out. Team USA had the largest participating athletes than in any other winter games, with 242. The opening ceremony helped symbolize unity between North and South Korea as both nations walked out together, contrary to normal practices in which the host nation walks out first.
The Games Begin
Team USA saw their first gold medal on Feb. 10, when snowboarder Redmond Gerard won the men’s slopestyle event. He is just 17, making him not only the first gold medalist, but the youngest ever in the Winter Olympics. It was his first time competing in the Olympics. Gerard finished the qualifier round with a score of 82.55 and landed a gold medal with an 87.16 in the final. He was able to beat out two Canadian snowboarders, one of them being 23 year-old Max Parrot, who is a three time X-Games champion. Parrot finished with a silver medal in the event.
Next for the U.S. was women’s snowboarder Jamie
Anderson, who took home gold in the Slopestyle on Feb. 11. Anderson finished with a score of 83.00 at the event and also won a gold medal just four years earlier in the inaugural Women’s Slopestyle. Teammate Chloe Kim soon followed suit a day later on Feb. 12, when she picked up gold in the Women’s Halfpipe, another snowboarding event. The 17-year-old became the youngest woman to win an Olympic medal in snowboarding just like Redmond Gerard. She is also a four time X-games gold medalist.
Shaun White stole the show on Feb. 13, as everyone expected, when he took the gold in the Men’s Halfpipe.
White scored a 94.25, 55.0 and a 97.75 in his three runs for an overall score of 97.75. White was able to edge Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano who took the silver medal, with a score of 95.25. Australian Scotty James trailed both of them with a solid 92.00, which was good for the bronze. Shortly after claiming the top prize, Shaun White dealt with sexual assault allegations that resurfaced from a 2016 lawsuit against him. White acknowledged the mistakes he made when he was younger and said that he is proud of the person he has become, according to an interview on the “Today Show.” Mikaela Shi rin claimed gold on Feb. 14 in the Women’s Giant Slalom skiing event. Shi rin is the reigning Olympic and world champion in her sport and is a four-time World Cup winner.
Team USA most recently picked up a gold medal in the Women’s Team Sprint Free skiing event, narrowly edging Norway and Sweden by a fraction of a second, with only four full days left of the Winter Olympic Games.
As of Feb. 21. Norway is leading with 13 golds and 33 overall medals, with Germany trailing with 12 gold medals 24 overall. There is still time left to compete in a variety of events for the top prize, but this year’s winter Olympics seem to be about unity more than anything.