Friday, 9 February 2018

Outstanding Start

I wasn't going to get up any earlier than I normally do for work just to catch the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. After all, if you've seen the teams enter the stadium once, you've seen them do it over and over. Instead, I found myself captivated by the pageantry in these Opening Ceremonies as I prepared for work, and I may have wandered in a little late because I wanted to see as much as I could.

92 nations will take part in this Winter Olympiad, and it was clear that each and every nation was proud to be there. While Tess Virtue and Scott Moir were one of two male-female pairs of flag bearers - Korea being the other - it was Pita Taufatofua who shocked everyone by coming out as the flag bearer for Tonga bare-chested in the near-freezing temperatures! Taufatofua competed in taekwondo in Rio's Summer Games, and he will compete as a cross-country skier in Pyeongchang!

We even saw a little political intrigue at the Opening Ceremonies as Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The unified Korean women's hockey team has brought the two nations a little closer, and I'm hopeful that they can work together during and after the Olympics to make the world a better place.

Speaking of the team, Korean figure skating idol Yuna Kim received the Olympic torch from two members of the unified Korean women's team as North Korean Jong Su Hyon and South Korean Park Jong-ah delivered the torch in unison showing their teamwork. Maybe this bodes well for the team on the ice?

The athletes were led in traditionally as the Greek Olympic team were first to enter the stadium, and it seemed a little anti-climactic when Greece only had two cross-country and two Alpine skiers. Regardless, the Olympic tradition was upheld. Ghana's Akwasi Frimpong, the only athlete from Ghana who will compete in skeleton, was next, and he drew a solid ovation as the lone representative of his country. Ghana was followed by Nigeria who we were told has the first female bobsled team to ever participate in the event from Africa!

Of the 92 nations, Madagascar, Ecuador, Cyprus, Kosovo, Togo, Tonga, and Azerbaijan were all represented by a single athlete. Togo sent one female cross-country skier while Tonga - mentioned above - and Ecuador each sent a male cross-country skier. Madagascar sent one female alpine skier while Cyprus, Togo, and Azerbaijan all sent individual male alpine skiers. While they all may be long shots to win, they're champions in their own countries already!

Of all that happened, it was great seeing the Canadian delegate enter the stadium as I'm excited to see our athletes compete on this international stage. This should be a fun Olympiad, so get settled in and cheer on the athletes for the next two weeks!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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