The 2018 Winter Olympic Games Preview

Beginners guide of Athletes and Events to Watch in Peyongchang

Marcus Roberts, Head Writer

Beginning on Friday, February 9, and ending on Sunday, February 25, the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. There are new events, new faces, and new opportunities this year. In June, 2015, the International Olympic Committee announced that many new events would be added in order to boost female participation and youth appeal: freestyle skiing, mass start in speedskating, and mixed doubles in curling. They also added big air snowboarding in replacement of the parallel slalom.

Alpine Skiing

One of the most fast-paced sports in the world, Alpine Skiing is one of the most exciting sports in the winter Olympics. Consisting of 6 events (Downhill, Super-G, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super Combined, and Team Event), each athlete skiis down a slope in effort to reach the finish line the fastest while staying in between numerous gates. The downhill event is designed for the fastest skiers, while slalom is for the sharpest turners. Super-G and giant slalom are somewhere in between the two, and the super combined is the overall test for skiers in every skill of the sport. The team event is a parallel event consisting of four athletes (two men and two women) from the same nation in a 16-team single elimination bracket.

Athletes to Watch For:

Beat Feuz (SUI)

Marcel Hirscher (AUS)

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)


This event combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. Biathletes begin the event by racing on skis with rifles strapped to their backs. After a certain distance, each biathlete positions themselves in a lane and carefully fires at targets straight ahead of them in order to transition back to ski racing. There are five competitons for both men and women: Individual, Sprint, Pursuit, Mass Start, Relay. Athlete’s start times are staggered by either 30 seconds or one minute, and their times are recorded. For each target an athlete misses, a minute is added to their finishing times. In the Sprint event, there are now two shooting stops and one set must be shot prone and the other standing. Also, athletes must ski a small penalty course for every shot missed instead of the one-minute addon to their finishing times. For Pursuit, combined winners of the Individual and Sprint events get to start first while second place follows them and so on. Mass Start involves all skiers to start at the same time and the first to finish is the winner with the same rules as the Sprint. In the Relay, teams of four go one at a time with three spare bullets per person.

Athletes to Watch For:

Laura Dahlmeier (GER)

Martin Fourcade (FRA)

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR)


One turn taken too sharply can be the difference between first and last in this event. Bobsleigh involves three events: Four-Man Bobsleigh, Two-Man Bobsleigh, and Womens Bobsleigh. Between these events, the only differences involve the weight of the bobsled, the length of the track, and the gender/number of participants. In each bobsled, the athlete in the front steers the bob down the track while the one in the back has access to the breaks. It is just as important that the driver perfectly turns through the track as the others push the bob in the beginning of the race.

Athletes to Watch For:

Johannes Lochner (GER)

Justin Kripps (CAN)

Kaillie Humphries (CAN)

Cross-Country Skiing

For cross-country athletes, the track is composed of one uphill, level, and downhill slope in order. The first individual or combined team to cross the finish line wins. There are six events for this sport: Individual, Skiathlon, Sprint, Team Sprint, Mass Start, and Relay.

Athletes to Watch For:

Charlotte Kalla (SWE)

Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR)

Marit Bjorgen (NOR)

Stina Nilsson (SWE)


In both Men’s/Women’s Curling and Mixed Doubles Curling, teams of two or four must alternate throwing stones across an ice surface and try to land them closest to a painted “tee” as possible. In the Men’s/Women’s event, each team of four throws eight stones in order complete an end while two-team Mixed Doubles athletes throw 5 stones per end. After 10 ends in the Men’s and Women’s, and eight ends in Mixed Doubles, the game ends with the highest scoring team as the winner.

Teams to Watch For:

Mens Team (CAN)

Womens Team (CAN)

Mixed Team (SWI)

Figure Skating

Figure Skating is one of the most famous Olympic sports ever. With performances scored by judges based on difficulty, athletes must perform acrobatic maneuvers with ice skates in time frames never exceeding five minutes. Single Skating, Ice Dance, Pair Skating, and Team Event are all available to men and women.

Athletes to Watch For:

Javier Fernandez (ESP)

Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS)

Yuzuru Hanyu (JAP)

Freestyle Skiing

Just like in Figure Skating, athletes of Freestyle Skiing score points by impressing judges. Grading elements are made up of technique, form, speed, and landing. There are 10 different events between men and women, five for each. The differences between these events are the shape of the slope, the amount and height of jumps, and length/type of skis between the athletes. Moguls, Slopestyle, and Halfpipe are some of the events.

Athletes to Watch For:

Marie Martinod (FRA)

Mikael Kingsbury (CAN)

Ice Hockey

With teams of 20 players and 2 goaltenders, Ice Hockey has always been one of the most watched events in the winter Olympics. Ten skaters and two goaltenders combine for both teams on the ice at a time and each player is given equipment and a stick in order to move a small rubber puck into the opponents net for a goal. The team at the end of a three, 20-minute period game with the most goals is the winner.

Athletes to Watch For:

Pavel Datsyuk (Olympic Athletes of Russia)

Marie-Philip Poulin (CAN)


In this event, both individual and pairs of two athletes slide on their backs, feet first on a single sled. Weight distribution is crucial in this sport. Very small adjustments are often the difference as finishing times are recorded to the thousandth of a second.

Athletes to Watch For:

Julia Taubitz (GER)

Summer Britcher (USA)

Nordic Combined

Nordic Combined is a combination event involving both Cross Country Skiing and Ski Jumping. It only involves male participants and is very difficult because athletes must propel themselves up, across, and down a hill even after using a great amount of energy to jump as far as they can off a large jump at the beginning of the event. Scoring is based off of both jump distance and finish time.

Athletes to Watch For:

Joergen Graabak (NOR)

Johannes Rydzek (GER)

Short Track Speed Skating

In this sport, skaters must finish first among many other skaters in a close vicinity in order to win the event. The racing track is considerably smaller than the normal track, 288.88 meters shorter to be exact. Eight events between men and women are designed to test athletes’ strength and stamina accordingly.

Athletes to Watch For:

Hwang Dae-Heon (KOR)

Ma Wei (CHN)

Sjinkie Knegt (NLD)


In Skeleton, a single man or woman athlete tries to make it down the track in the fastest time possible in order to medal. Similar to bobsleigh, athletes begin the event by first accelerating and then boarding their vehicle on the way down the track. Similar to luge, riders are protected only by a small, lightweight sled and helmet. They race down the track head first and it is very easy to lose control at such high speeds, making it one of the most dangerous sports in the olympics.

Athletes to Watch For:

Aleksandr Tretyakov (RUS)

Elena Nikitina (RUS)

Matthew Antoine (USA)

Ski Jumping

Ski Jumping is for the masters of technique and strength on skis. Events take place on either the Normal Hill or Large Hill. Judges may add or subtract points from an athlete’s score according to posture, style, flying, and landing of the athletes. To measure the athlete’s landing distance, a dotted line called the “K-Point” is added a certain distance from the takeoff points. Differing between the large and normal hills, the “K-Point” generally subtracts points if the skiers land before it and adds points if the skiers land after it.

Athletes to Watch For:

Kamil Stoch (POL)

Katharina Althaus (GER)


Snowboarding in the Olympics features a wide variety of events that both men and women can participate in. Parallel Giant Slalom, Halfpipe, Snowboard Cross, Slopestyle, and Big Air are the five events that snowboarders can participate in. These events are very similar to freestyle skiing that combine judge’s scores with the time intervals that the athletes finish within.

Athletes to Watch For:

Chloe Kim (USA)

Mark McMorris (CAN)

Shaun White (USA)

Speed Skating

Speed Skating takes place on a much larger 400-meter track than the 111.12-meter short track. There are more events too. Both men’s/women’s individual events involve three races: 500m, 1000m, and 1500m. The second event is the team relay of 5000m for men, and 3000m team relay for women.

Athletes to Watch For:

Brian Hansen (USA)

Ireen Wuust (NLD)

The official 2018 Winter Olympics Schedule can be found here

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