OK, now that we can say it, here’s a bunch of stuff to know about the XXIII Winter Olympics so you can talk about it for the next 2 weeks.
Stuff to know for the next 2 weeks:
The 2018 Winter Olympics are in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from Feb 9 – Feb 25. The Olympics will feature about 90 countries competing in 102 events across 15 disciplines.
The Largest Team Canada EVER
Canada is sending its largest contingent of athletes ever to a Winter Olympic Games, sending 225 athletes for 105 events. The nation has started competing in curling’s mixed doubles, luge and ski jumping.
The hope is this group of Olympians will also produce the biggest medal haul this country has ever had at a Winter Games.
The previous best was Vancouver 2010, when Canada finished with 26 medals, 14 of them gold.
Ice dancing pair, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, were Canada’s flag-bearers for the event. The duo won gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and silver in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
What’s going on with Russia?
The opening ceremonies included 168 Russian athletes who marched under the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” banner, wearing neutral uniforms.
This comes after the Russian doping scandal, resulting in the nation being banned by the International Olympic Committee. However, some athletes were still invited to compete. If they win events, the Olympic flag will fly and the Olympic anthem will be played.
What sports are in the 2018 Winter Olympics?
The 2018 Olympics is set to feature 102 events across 15 disciplines. Here are all the disciplines that will award medals in 2018:
— Alpine skiing
— Cross-country skiing
— Figure skating
— Freestyle skiing
— Ice hockey
— Nordic combined
— Short track speed skating
— Ski jumping
— Speed skating
Notable events to watch
Short-track speed skating is delightfully unpredictable — which makes for thrilling TV. For example: At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Australian skater Steven Bradbury won an unexpected gold medal in the 1,000-metre short-track race after every other competitor crashed, and he was the only man left standing.
In Pyeongchang, a strong Canadian team will be led by longtime couple Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin. After a disappointing individual performance in Sochi four years ago, St-Gelais is back for another shot at the podium. She has three Olympic silver medals under her belt, one of them from a solo race: the 500-metre race at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
On the men’s side, Hamelin will try to become the first Canadian ever to win three individual Olympic gold medals. In his first event of the Games, the 33-year-old will attempt to defend the gold he won in Sochi in the 1,500-m race.
The women’s 500-metre final goes Feb. 13. The men’s 1,500-metre final goes Feb. 10.
This year’s tournament features a display of unity, as South Korea and North Korea field a joint women’s hockey team — a symbolic gesture given the increasingly frayed relations between the two nations.
There’ll be no unity between the Canadians and Americans, though. In Sochi, the Canadian team pulled off a stunning comeback win in overtime to take home the gold, breaking the hearts of their archrival. Marie-Philip Poulin scored the gold-medal game-winner — as she did in Vancouver in 2010 — and she’s back this year as captain of the Canadian squad as they go for gold once again. Team USA, though, will be hell-bent on revenge.
In Canada’s first game of the tournament, on Feb. 11, they’ll face off against a Russian contingent competing under the Olympic flag (the Russian Olympic Committee was banned because of “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system”).
Canada will face Team USA on Feb. 15; the gold-medal game goes Feb. 22.
After suffering a near-fatal snowboard crash in the B.C. backcountry last March, Mark McMorris will compete in his second Olympics. The 24-year-old, who won a bronze medal in Sochi, is a podium favourite in slopestyle — in which boarders must navigate a downhill course peppered with obstacles— and Big Air, a new event in which athletes hurl themselves down a steep ramp and perform a series of flips and twists in mid-air.
The men’s slopestyle competition takes place on Feb. 11; the big-air competition takes place on Feb. 24.
Curling TV ratings continue to soar in Canada, and it’s no wonder — Canada is a curling powerhouse. This year, Rachel Homan, one of the country’s brightest curling talents, will get a shot at an important piece of hardware missing from her collection. The 28-year-old will skip the Canadian women’s team in her first-ever Olympic appearance.
Team Canada’s competition kicks off Feb. 15 when they take on South Korea and Sweden in the round robin.
There’s been a lot of boo-hooing over the lack of NHL players at this year’s men’s hockey tournament (after the league refused to allow athletes to compete). Sure, the game’s biggest stars won’t be there, but the scruffy underdogs and old-timers who would otherwise not have earned a spot on Team Canada will give you all the more reason to cheer. Take, for example, the story of Wojtek Wolksi, who suffered a broken neck in a freak on-ice accident in late 2016 and and figured his hockey career was over. After a lengthy recovery, the 31-year-old former NHLer was named to an Olympic roster for the first time last month.
The Canadian men take the ice for their first game on Feb. 15, facing off against Switzerland. The gold-medal game will mark the final event of the Games on Feb. 25.
Men’s figure skating
Part of the Games’ dramatic appeal comes from the unnervingly high stakes — with so much pressure, gold-medal favourites sometimes fall heartbreakingly short of reaching their potential. Such was Patrick Chan’s fate in 2014. The 10-time Canadian national champion and three-time world champion took home his second Olympic silver medal in Sochi, despite expectations of gold.
Now 27, Chan is no longer a medal favourite. But he’ll attempt to pull off something unexpected in his final competition before retiring after Pyeongchang — and because it’s the Olympics, anything is possible.
The men’s short program takes place on Feb. 16; the free skate airs on Feb. 17.
After capturing gold — and the hearts of Canadians — at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir fell short in their bid to defend their title in Sochi (they lost out to Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White).
Now, after a two-year competitive hiatus, Virtue and Moir are back with unfinished business — and once again, they’re favoured to take home gold.
The ice dance competition starts on Feb. 19 and wraps up on Feb. 20.
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Kaillie Humphries will go for her third gold in Pyeongchang, this time with a new brakeman. The same competition will feature Nigeria’s Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, the first African team to compete in bobsled at the Olympics. This one’s a must-watch.
The competition starts on Feb. 20 and concludes on Feb. 21.
Freestyle skiing — ski cross
There’s nothing quite as compelling as a miraculous comeback, so Canadians will be keen to see how Marielle Thompson’s story plays out. The reigning Olympic champion in ski cross — a timed event in which skiers race down a course that features banks, jumps, rollers and turns — crashed in training last October, suffering a ruptured ACL and MCL, but the 25-year-old was named to the Olympic squad late last month.
The women’s ski cross event takes place Feb. 23.
Speedskating mass start
A new event, the mass start in speedskating is a chaotic 16-lap race around a 400-m track in which all skaters start simultaneously — think of it like a short-track race on a long-track oval. Canadian Ivanie Blondin is always a medal threat in the race; the 27-year-old Ottawa native was crowned the women’s mass start world champion in 2016.
Both the men’s and women’s mass start competitions take place on Feb. 24.
This article originally appeared at Chatelaine.
Will NHL players be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics?
Nope — NHL players aren’t allowed to play, which means some of the world’s greatest hockey players, including Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, will not be allowed at the Games. The NHL decided earlier this year not to give its players a break during the 2017-18 season to compete for Team USA and other countries, and the issue remains controversial.
In a nutshell, in April 2017, the NHL chose not to allow their players to compete in the 2018 Olympics because the event would require a 17-day break from their regular schedules, according to the NHL website. The longer story, though, is all kinds of drama. If you were wondering why aren’t NHL players competing in the Olympics, here’s everything you need to know.
Where Can I Watch the Olympics?
CBC. Because the CBC owns the official Canadian broadcasting and streaming rights for the Winter Olympics, anyone with cable can easily tune into their local CBC station to catch the action. While those without a traditional cable connection can turn to the CBC Sports Olympic app, which includes live videos. Note, however, that there’s a 12-plus hour time difference between South Korea and Canada, which means this year’s Olympics may conflict with your sleep schedule. Thankfully, the app will also include highlights and other coverage from the games. Chromecast and Air Play are also supported by the app. The app is available on both iOS and Android.