A spectacular opening ceremony in PyeongChang’s Olympic Stadium signaled the start of the XXIII Winter Olympic Games.
Typically, the build-up has not been without its controversies, hardly surprising with Kim Jong-un as ‘noisy neighbor’ but finally the talking can stop, and the action can begin.
What will hopefully set a harmonious tone for the next 16 days, was the sight of North Korean and South Korean athletes marching into the stadium together under a unified flag; bonhomie on a level previously unheard in the Korean Peninsula.
The action itself is already underway, with the bulging roster of events necessitating a Day Minus One and a Day Zero, and the mixed doubles curling – a new event for the Games – is already well underway at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
In addition to the mixed doubles curling, three other events have been added by the International Olympic Committee for 2018 – big air snowboarding, freestyle skiing, and mass start speed skating.
A record 102 medals will be awarded in Pyeongchang across seven main sports – biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating, and skiing – which are then broken down into these 15 separate disciplines:
For the record, there a total of 92 nations represented in South Korea and a total of 2,952 athletes competing.
This event combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, and there are five different formats: Sprint, Individual, Pursuit, Mass Start, and Relay, some of which are inter-linked. How each athlete fare in the sprint and individual event determines where they start in the pursuit event.
The Scandinavians are very strong in this event, with the French, Italians, and Germans in with a worthy medal shout.
The two-man, women’s, and four-man events all take place between February 18-24. In all three disciplines of the bobsleigh, each team gets four runs down the course over two consecutive days. The fastest combined time between the four runs decides the medal winners.
In terms of the men’s competitions, it’s very hard to see past the Germans at odds of +450 with 888Sport – who have talent and pedigree in abundance – and in the two-women bob, there is a strong challenge from North America where Canada and the US lead the betting.
For the first time since curling’s inclusion in the Winter Olympics, this year will see a new category included in the programme – mixed doubles curling, which began on February 8 and runs through to February 13. Then, starting on February 14 will be the traditional men’s and women’s tournaments, which conclude on February 24 and February 25 respectively.
All the curling competitions will follow the traditional format: a round-robin round from which the top four teams will play in the semi-finals and then the final.
Canada again looks likely to be the dominant force, although the mixed-doubles could throw up a surprise with the Swiss in medal contention. Great Britain is the pick in the women’s section at generous each-way odds of +650 with 888Sport.
Ahead of the 2018 Olympic men’s hockey tournament, much of the talk has been around the players who will and won’t be making an appearance in the tournament… and we’re not talking about the non-appearance of the official Russian team. With the NHL being the biggest and best league in the world, the appearance of its superstars would automatically thrust the US and Canada into first and second favorite category but, as it transpires, NHL players won’t be appearing in PyeonChang.
Therefore, the tournament is wider open than it otherwise might have been, with the Russian players (competing under the Olympic Athletes’ flag) and Sweden finding themselves among the list of potential winners at odds of +200 with BetVictor. Canada too, fielding a home-grown up and coming team, are still in with a decent medal shout.
The men’s tournament starts on February 14, with the first stage being three groups of four teams, eight teams then advancing through to the knock-out stages. The third-place game takes place on the February 24, with the gold-medal match the following day.
In the women’s tournament, the U.S. and Canada have shared the gold medals in the last 20 years of Olympic women’s hockey, but there are signs the rest of the world is catching up—with Finland’s win over Canada at the 2017 World Championships a clear indicator.
The women’s tournament is already underway, with two groups of four teams being whittled down to a four-team single-elimination round. The medals will be handed out in the final two games on February 22.
There are four types of events in the luge competition — men’s, women’s, doubles and team relay — all of which take place between February 10 and 15.
In the Skeleton, which has the same range of events and follows a similar format, each athlete does three runs down the track and each run counts towards their cumulative time. The 20 competitors after the three heats will qualify for the final heat. The first two heats of the men’s competition will be on February 14 and the last two the next day. The women’s competition begins on February 16 and, again, ends the next day.
The German sliders, as ever, are the ones to watch.
Whether its speed or artistic impression, the ice rinks will be the places to be in Pyeongchang. Speedskating over the short or long courses will provide the biggest numbers of the thrills and spills across the next two weeks – the short course is guaranteed to offer crashes and controversy – but it will be in the Gangneung Ice Arena when the figure skating takes place that artistry and grace will take over from speed and power. Alina Zagitova is well worth a second look in the women’s figure skating at odds of +175 across the board.
The figure skating takes place throughout most of the Olympics, with competition taking place on 12 days of the games. They began on February 8 with the team event and will end on Saturday, February 24 with the gala.
After the team event is the pairs competition with medals being awarded on February 14. The medals for the men’s event will be handed out on February 17, with medals for the women’s event awarded on February 23.
Speed skating will take place between February 10 to and February 24 with medals up for grabs for 14 different events. The Dutch, as ever, will be the ones to watch; in Sochi, four years ago, they won eight out of 12 available gold medals as well as claiming a medal in every event.
The Games’ blue riband category, and one that has a growing number of categories. What was once three traditional skiing events – slalom, giant slalom and downhill – and ski jumping, now includes freestyle skiing and snowboarding; each with their own variations and different events.
Freestyle skiing encompasses five different ski terrain events for both the men and women: aerials, halfpipe, moguls, ski cross, and slopestyle. It kicked off with the men’s and women’s moguls qualifying on February 8 and concludes with the women’s ski cross on February 23.
The Alpine skiing kicks off with the men’s downhill on February 10 and ends with the new team event, which concludes on February 23.
Ski jumping takes place during six days of the games. It began on Thursday, February 8 with the men’s individual normal hill event and ends on February 19 with the men’s team large hill event. The women’s individual normal hill event will take place on February 12.
Four-man men’s bobsleigh: Nico Walther (GER)
Sunday 25 February, 00:30 GMT
Men’s Ice Hockey: Sweden
Sunday 25 February, 04:10 GMT
Women’s Figure Skating: Alina Zagitova (OAR)
Friday 23 February, 01:00 GMT
Women’s Curling: GB each-way
Friday 25 February, 00:05 GMT