I’ve had a fantastic staycation this winter, and last week was the crown jewel. I traveled to PyeongChang, home to the 2018 Winter Olympics, twice last week. I visited three different venues and was a spectator at two world cup competitions. Welcome to week 318 of Travel Photo Thursday. Join me as I show you PyeongChang and the Olympic venues, Part 1.
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The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games take place between February 9 – 25, 2018. Not since the 1984 games in Lillehammer, Norway has such a small city hosted the Games. Our first stop was Gangneung Olympic Park, located in the sister city Gangneung. The Park is home to the Gangneung Hockey Center (men’s hockey), Gangneung Curling Center, Gangneung Oval (speed skating), and the Gangneung Ice Arena (short track speed skating and figure skating).
Outside of the ice arena, I got my first glimpse of the Games mascots, Soohorang (a white tiger) and Bandabi (an Asian black bear).
The Ice Arena was seeing lots of action with the Four Continents Figure Skating Competition underway. Since this was a paid event, without a ticket the building was off limits. I would have gladly purchased one, but this was just a brief stop on our way to the sky jumping test event. I think it’s a lovely looking building. The style reminds me a bit of the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.
Gangneung Olympic Park
This is a quick shot of the back of (what I think) is the Hockey Center. None of the buildings were open to the public on the day I visited. As I wrote before, this was just a very quick stop so that we could have a look at the outside of the buildings before we headed to the ski resort to watch the ski jumping. I hope I can get back one of these days and see the interiors. I do love the clean lines.
There was also a traditional Korean music festival happening. I managed to pop into the festival tent before heading back to the bus.
Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium
Next stop was the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium, host to the ski jumping and Nordic combined events. This was my first time at a World Cup Ski Jumping event and an Olympic test event, so I was excited. Alpensia is located about a 25-minute drive from the Gangneung venue. The event began around 5 pm, and it was dark by the time we left the event several hours later. I don’t have a lens for my camera that allowed me to get close-ups of the skiers, but it was great to get photos of the hill. Let’s face it, you see more on TV, and that’s why there is a big screen at the bottom of the hill, but it’s still exciting to watch live. We watched the ladies World Cup final, which was won by the Japanese skier Takanashi.
Look at the top of the hill, and you can see the ramp where the skiers begin their descent. The big screen at the bottom showed each skier setting-up, and it looks tricky as they slide along a pole to position themselves in the middle of the ramp. The ski jumpers need speed as they shoot out of there. I’m not sure how the officials decide which hill to use, but as you can see here on this day, it was the hill on the skiers right.
There were so few spectators (as you can see in the photo above) it was very easy to get photos of the pit where the skiers and the media hang out waiting for the next jumper.
Here is my sad
ass attempt at videoing one of the skiers competing.
We left the ski jumping behind at around 7 pm for the long drive back to Seoul. The men were completing a qualifying round to determine who made it to the final. At the moment, getting to Pyeongchang is not easy. The 3-hour bus ride means battling traffic on a two-lane highway, which was very busy on the day our bus tried to careen through. Seatbelts mandatory! I am being a bit melodramatic. Our driver seemed quite conscientious, although at times he was bit heavy footed. A high-speed train is scheduled to open before the games begin next year, which will whisk passenger to Pyeongchang in approximately one hour from downtown Seoul. The government says the train will be ready on time. There are reports to the contrary, so time will tell. Accommodation close to the games is severely limited, so without this high-speed train, spectators could be few and far between. My cost to attend this event was 5,000W ($5.00US). Why was it so cheap? The government is providing funding to bus companies to offer foreigner-only shuttle buses to many events and festivals around the country. If you’re coming to Korea, you can check here to see if there are any events scheduled during your time in Korea.
If you think you might like to experience the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in person, you can find out everything you need to know regarding ticket purchases on the official website.
You don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy winter in Korea. Check out what to see and what to do.
Have you ever visited an Olympic site, or been a spectator at any Olympic test (or actual) events? Let us know in the comments.
Come back next week for part 2 of my Olympic adventure.
You can browse the Travel Photo Thursday archives here.
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