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Students follow PyeongChang closely

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Students follow PyeongChang closely

Photo courtesy of www.dayafterindia.com

Photo courtesy of www.dayafterindia.com

Photo courtesy of www.dayafterindia.com

Rachel Gaudreau, Sports Editor

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On February 9, the Olympic torch was lit in PyeongChang, South Korea. Athletes from around the globe united to compete in the world’s greatest sports competition. From February 9 to February 25, people worldwide will stop and marvel at the tremendous talent of these athletes.

This year, perhaps more than ever, there is a plethora of young talent. Most notably, 17-year-old Chloe Kim from Torrance, California, 17-year-old Red Gerard from Silverthorne, Colorado, and 18-year-old Nathan Chen from Salt Lake City, Utah, have caught the attention of many.

Kim competes in the women’s halfpipe and was highly favored to win the gold medal coming into the games. After two triumphant runs, Kim had already secured her gold medal. Her last run was merely a victory run, in which she bested herself with a score of 98.25. This score, out of 100, demonstrate her total dominance in the sport.

In addition, Kim’s success is made all the more impressive by the sacrifices of her and her family.
Her parents, who immigrated to the US from South Korea before Kim was born, have wholeheartedly embraced Kim’s dream of professional snowboarding. Kim’s father has always been her biggest fan, quitting his job to aid in her dream, driving her long hours to practice, and unconditionally supporting her.

Gerard, who competes in the men’s slopestyle, wasn’t necessarily on people’s radars to begin with.
Devastation came when, during his first and second runs, Gerard wiped out and his chances for a podium finish diminished. In fact, going into his final run, Gerard was in last place. Relying on his last run, Gerard pulled an impressive score of 87.16 and won the gold medal. He became the first American gold medalist of the PyeongChang Olympics and the youngest snowboarding champion ever.

In the figure skating world, Nathan Chen has become one of the biggest names. At this point in his career, although only 18 years of age, expectations are high for this athlete. Unfortunately, Chen did not go home with a medal. After a defeating short program, ending in 17th place, Chen bounced back performing a record-breaking five quadruple jumps in his freestyle program to end in 5th place overall.

Along with the overwhelming young talent on team USA, there are also several notable first-time Olympians. One such athlete is 28-year-old Adam Rippon, the first openly gay American figure skater. While Rippon’s skating is stylistically mesmerizing, his technique does not match that of his competitors, and he did not medal in any programs this Olympics.

However, Rippon is a winner in other respects as he openly fights a battle against homophobia in sports and the US government. Rippon has spoken out against Vice President Mike Pence for his past support of conversion-therapy, a harmful practice with the purpose of changing one’s sexuality.

After declining an offer to meet with Pence in PyeongChang, Rippon said in an ABC News interview, “I personally don’t have anything to say to Mike Pence. I’m very lucky because legislation that he’s pushed hasn’t affected my life at all.” Some fans of the Olympics are upset at this integration of politics and sports, but for many others Rippon’s stance is a reason to watch.

Shani Davis is yet another athlete in the spotlight at this competition, both for his tremendous talent and for a controversy surrounding the flag bearing at the opening ceremony. Davis has been extremely outspoken about his disappointment in the decision to use a coin toss to determine the United States’ flag bearer at the Olympic Games. To his disappointment, luger Erin Hamlin was selected over Davis. Many argue that Davis, a four-time Olympic medalist and the first black athlete to win the 1000 meter speed skating event at the Olympics for the US team, rightfully deserved to bear the American flag. Nevertheless, Davis is a talented athlete and aims to further add to his already extensive success.
In the end, the Olympic Games truly bring out the best in every athlete. As long as the world continues to watch, these athletes will continue to impress.

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Students follow PyeongChang closely