2018 Olympic Winter Games Underway in South Korea

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2018 Olympic Winter Games Underway in South Korea

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The Winter Olympics are currently taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Competition ends Sunday, Feb. 25.

Long-standing Winter Olympic powerhouse Norway is, unsurprisingly, leading the way with 29 total medals—11 of which are gold. Germany stands in second with 23 total, and Canada is in third with 19 total. The United States currently sits in sixth place with 12 medals total, five of which are gold.

Team USA has however, had some bright spots, first and foremost being 17-year-old snowboarder, Chloe Kim.

Kim has been a breakout star for team USA, taking home the gold in the snowboarding halfpipe. She is the youngest Olympian to ever medal in the halfpipe.

Not only did she shock and amaze everyone in her first ever Olympic games, the rising star did so while tweeting. Yes, Chloe Kim, between her runs in the halfpipe, took to Twitter to let her fans know exactly what she was thinking about moments before her astonishing performances. During the qualifying round, Kim tweeted, “Could be down for some ice cream rn” and would later tweet, just before winning the gold, “Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry.”

Kim has quickly risen to be a fan favorite at the games, both because of her incredible talent given her age, and her fun and relatable personality. Kim’s social media savvy and witty and entertaining interviews may very well have put her on track to be the face of team USA going forward.

On the men’s side, team USA veteran Shaun White claimed the gold for the men’s snowboarding halfpipe. This is White’s fourth Winter Olympics and his third time winning the gold in the halfpipe.

Following White’s win, however, has been some controversy surrounding the Olympian. Allegations of sexual misconduct from a 2016 incident have reemerged as the #MeToo movement entered the realm of the Olympics.

White was accused by a former bandmate, Lena Zawaideh, of sexual misconduct. Zawaideh brought a lawsuit against White which was settled in 2017. The incident and ensuing lawsuit received little press coverage at the time, but have recently seen a resurgence.

In a press conference, White stated the allegations were “gossip.” The incident has caused many to question the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) policies regarding sexual misconduct. The IOC lets individual countries decide how to handle incidents of sexual harassment or assault by their athletes.

On a separate note, figure skater Adam Rippon—another prominent athlete for team USA this Olympics— won the bronze as a part of the team ice dance event.

Rippon is openly gay and an outspoken supporter and promoter of the LGBTQ community. Rippon was critical of Vice President Mike Pence, who led the United States Olympic delegation in Pyeongchang. Rippon received an offer from NBC to join their television crew covering the games which he initially accepted. Rippon later rescinded as it would have meant he would have had to give up his Olympic standing, meaning he could no longer live in the Olympic village or participate in the closing ceremonies with team USA.

Russia, usually at or near the top of the medal leaderboards in the Winter Olympics, is nowhere to be found this year. The reason for this is twofold.

First, Russia was suspended from competing in Pyeongchang after the state-sponsored doping scandal rocked the nation’s Olympic teams. Despite the team ban, the IOC cleared 168 Russian athletes to compete after going through rigorous drug testing. These athletes are competing under the name, Olympic Athletes from Russia. They are not allowed to display the Russian flag. Instead, they brandish the Olympic rings as their insignia.

Second, these athletes simply have not performed at the level typical of Russia and have been an overall nonstory in Pyeongchang. The Olympic Athletes from Russia have won a combined 11 medals—none of which are gold—putting them in 20th place by total medal count.

These Russian athletes are now facing renewed scrutiny and criticism as Alexander Krushelnitsky, a Russian curler, tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. Krushelnitsky was part of the mixed curling team that won the bronze. If found guilty, the team will be stripped of its medal.

The Norwegian mixed curling team that lost to Krushelnitsky, and therefore failed to medal, has stated if the drug test results are confirmed they want another medal ceremony held as they feel “robbed of their moment of glory.”

Despite the early struggles for team USA, many people, including students at Seattle University, have been paying close attention to the games. First year student Jackson Chiao has been watching a wide variety of events throughout the first week of the games.

“I really enjoy watching the Olympics. It’s amazing to see athletes from around the world who train their whole lives for a chance to compete. I also enjoy watching different sports that I would normally not see or hear about like bobsledding or curling” Chiao said, who is now an avid curling fan and excited for the final week of the games.

The games now enter their homestretch and many of the medal rounds take place over the next few days. These include the finals for bobsledding, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, hockey, speed skating and more.

The closing ceremonies for the games will take place on Feb. 25.

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