Andin's Olympic experience

May 15, 2018
By Andin
Photos © Andin

It was a first Olympic journey for me, and I doubt I would have dared to make it. if Tessa and Scott were not part of it. I wanted to see their dances and cheer for them right there, not in front of my TV screen. So, my Olympic Games were very compact and lasted only three days: official practice, short dance, free dance. But I managed to feel that Olympic spirit anyway.

The Rings! Compulsory picture for everyone who comes to the Games. These rings met us near the Gangneung rail terminal. There, at the coastal cluster, all the figure skating events were taking place.


When translation is not needed. :)

My Olympic ticket! (one of them)

The Gangneung Hockey Centre (as you may read it yourself :) )

And this is the Gangneung Oval, the home rink to speed skaters

It seems short track speed skating is the most favorite winter sport in South Korea. You bet! Most of Korean Olympic medals come from this field. So there was a special sculptural group dedicated to it in the Gangneung Olympic Park. Other sports didn't get such a beautiful tribute!

This statue was erected in front of "our" Gangneung Ice Arena. We all were thinking really hard what that was supposed to mean, but didn't reach any conclusion. Anyway, after three days this statue became our dear friend.


Finally! The ice arena itself!

Ice resurfacing

Flags

It all was like a dream for me till that moment when I actually saw the rink. Of course, I had been to figure skating competitions before, but the Olympic Games were something more, something huge. Plus the journey to South Korea was a special adventure for me, a very different and a very far-away country. And only when we found ourselves at the stands, watching the ice being prepared for the practice - only then I felt somehow at home.


Tessa and Scott

I tried to take pictures of Tessa and Scott on the ice but gave up almost immediately. I had a good camera, but not suitable for such a big sporting event. So, I just enjoyed watching my favorite ice dancers skating live.

The morning of a true fan! The competition does not start till 10 a.m. but you arrive at 8 a.m., because they allow spectators to get into the arena. That's how you manage to watch the practice of the two last strongest groups. And before that you have to hang about on the street in a little queue and wait until volunteers open the doors.

 

Actually, only because of such a schedule, I managed to take a picture of an empty Olympic corridor. During the competitions, there are people everywhere, of course...

...and you can easily meet someone special! For example - look: Tomas Verner and Jonnhy Weir were happy to bump into each other.

South Korean organizers were trying to entertain the public before the start of the competition and during the ice resurfacing. The dancing Soohorang was really great in doing this!

The Olympic mascot was very cute! You could see his funny little face (in different versions) everywhere, alone or in the company of Bandabi the bear, the official mascot of the 2018 Winter Paralympics.

 

I especially liked the small authentic events which took place throughout the Games. For example, after the short dance, when we were in the Olympic Park we met a huge parade of people in Korean national costumes.

 

There was a local flavor coupled with the high technologies!

This parade reminded me of those with Disney animation characters.


Doesn't this pretty girl look like the little Mermaid?

Without any doubts, that is Mickey Mouse himself!

The Korean Olympic House looked like an exhibition hall. Actually it was exactly that. Here you could learn something new about the most interesting places and beautiful sights of the country. You could also taste a traditional Korean tea and try on a Korean national costume.


The coolest thing was that you could see the real Olympic medals here!

The Tokyo 2020 Japan House was created based on the same principle. There you could learn how many medals the Japanese team already has and who won them; you could have a look at Team Japan's Olympic costumes. And of course there was high-tech entertainment for the guests, because it was Japan after all.

We also dropped by the Russian Sport House, which was located outside the main Olympic Park. There, it was very convenient to watch live broadcasts. And there was tea from a samovar and pies free for everyone.

Initially I planned to check the houses of various Olympic sponsors too, but I had a limited time and I didn't want to spend it in queues to enter them.

There was one queue though in which we decided to stand: because how can you leave the Olympic Games without proper Olympic souvenirs? It was an absolutely crazy experience and probably my only negative memory of these Games. Actually, a small shop of this kind was open at the rink, and organizers used a good scheme there: all the souvenirs had their numbers; customers were given small clipboards and pens. One could write required numbers and quantity, give the clipboard back, pay and then receive a package with goods.
But apparently this didn't work for bigger requests: too many souvenirs to number them all!

You could come from the rail station to the Olympic Park by free shuttles very easily. Or take a stroll - there was a special footpath with a great view of Gangneung.

There were nice statues in national costumes on both sides of the road. For the first time we walked there in the day-time, and I thought that those statues looked a little bit pale. I decided that maybe that was how they were supposed to look.

And only when we walked in the evening I understood that they were more than just statues!

 

Of course, it's hard to manage to get everywhere and take in the scope of the whole Olympic Games in only three days (especially if you are spending almost all the time inside the rink). For example, in the end I didn't see the Olympic cauldron up close. We came to the mountain cluster only once in the evening to watch the medal ceremony. By the way, it was very, very cold there (in comparison to the coastal Gangneung). And when we were coming back after the medals were awarded to the winners, I saw it - that distant flame. But it was symbolic to finally see it before bidding the Games farewell.

 

I will say it again: you can't see all the aspects of the Games in three days. But I got the main treasure! I got to witness live the great victory of my favorite ice dancers for whom I was rooting for so many years. Honestly, it was so thrilling and marvelous that I wouldn't exchange it for any extra Olympic days or memories. For me this short Olympic journey was absolutely perfect.






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