Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This morning (or last evening depending on where you are) the IOC announced Pyeongchang, South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Games. Assahhh!

I'm so excited for Korea because a.) I love this country and I can't wait for the rest of the world to see how special it is, b.) I skied in the Pyeongchang area this winter at YongPyong (cool) and c.) I'll be 30 (ew) in 2018 and I should by then have my act together and enough money to buy a ticket back to Korea (I smell a reunion everyoneeee!!).

My students were so proud today and many of them were already talking about wanting to volunteer at the games.

I visited the YongPyong Resort with my friends in February of this year. Actually the weekend we were there the IOC had just finished it's tour of Pyeongchang so there were huge posters, light up signs on street corners, at the lodge and on the slopes reading "Pyeongchang 2018." Coincidentally, our trip happened to take place at the same time as the YongPyong International Ski Festival basically our own little mini Olympics. I'll get the actual competition in a second, but first the mountain itself.

YongPyong isn't a particularly difficult mountain, I may be a bit harsh with this comparison, but I've skied my fair share of mountains including a former Winter Olympic site Park City, Utah. Compared to Park City skiing YongPyong was like skiing in Pennsylvania. Now I only skied that one mountain in Pyeongchang and who knows if they will even use YongPyong for the skiing events. It will be interesting in the years ahead to hear which sites will be hosting which events and so forth.

About 13 of us headed out to YongPyong for the weekend and we really lucked out with great ski conditions-- a fresh dumping of snow, crisp winter day and sun! Our group was mixed in terms of level, but I was happy everyone was a good sport about getting out there and giving it their best. About half of us had grown up skiing or snowboarding and for the other half it was a fairly new discovery. I'm really lucky my parents got me skiing so early, because it's a tough sport to pick up later in life. You are a lot more reluctant to let yourself fall and get bruised at 23 then you are at 5. I gave a few pointers to my friend Eric and helped him get the hang of it and my the end of day he was cruising down the slopes-- pizza plow this, french fry that, all the old ski school tricks.

Quinn and Brian were both on UW's Ski and Snowboard team and with the International Ski Festival going on their were some downhill races they both entered. The International Ski Festival actually drew an impressive international audience, mostly expats from Norway, France, the US, Sweden who escaped Seoul for the weekend. The boys were sooo good and since we had really only been paying attention to them, we weren't sure how they'd fare against the competition.

The winners were announced later that night at the banquet for the Ski Festival participants, which we skipped because it cost 40,000 won. After we ate dinner on our own, we wandered over to the banquet to see Quinn and Brian's results and surprisingly they both won medals and prizes! Brian came in 1st place and wound up winning a brand new pair of skis and Quinn came in 3rd and won a dental certificate (wah-wah). Since, we had two of the day's winners in our party, we figured we might as well join (crash) the banquet. The paying audience was decked out in each country's more stereotypical gear i.e. the French wore Breton striped shirts and red berets and the American table had cowboy hats on.

The DJ getting things started as we arrived so we joined the dance party, probably offended some people and generally acted like we belonged there. I think we requested "Born in the USA" about 86 times and it finally played when we were about the only ones left dancing. Pure, brutish American dominance. We did however, make nice with the Norweigians-- such friendly folk, and somehow each of us walked away with a "Norway" sweatshirt from off their back. I think that's probably my favorite souvenir from this year.

We came, we saw, we conquered. Now, enjoy some pictures and clear your schedules in 2018 people. I'm coming back for you Pyeongchang.

All photos by Chris Bailey, Olivia Darmali and Mo Gallagher.

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