Winter Olympics 2018: A Recap

With over 102 events in 15 different sports, the Winter Olympics of 2018, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea was no small feat. It is only the second Olympics ever to be hosted in South Korea, following the 1998 Seoul Games, and the first Winter Olympics to be held there, marking an enormous milestone for the country. The competition has certainly grown from its first incarnation as a small town festival in Chamonix, France, and this year’s Winter Olympics was no exception.

Elected after two unsuccessful bids to host the Winter Olympics, the city of Pyeongchang in Korea has been preparing since 2011. The Gangneung Olympic Park was constructed as a sports venue in the area to house several different sports, including hockey, curling, speed skating, and figure skating. This served as the main location to host the Olympics and was informally known as the Olympic Park. The opening ceremony kicked off as a celebration of peace, harmony, and international communication, all of which have resonated as themes for the Olympics since their creation. In an act of neutrality within the 2018 Parade of Nations, a staple of the Olympics that showcases each country that participates, North and South Korea both marched under a Korean unification flag, symbolizing their willingness to put the conflict aside in order to celebrate the Games. The broadcast of the opening ceremony was available in more than 500 countries all over the world. 92 teams in total qualified for the Winter Olympics this year, each at least allowing one athlete to participate. 

As the games began, future athletes set numerous records and achieved stunning feats. For instance, Chloe Kim, a seventeen-year-old athlete for the American team, became the youngest person ever to win gold at a snowboarding event – in this case, the halfpipe – at the Winter Olympics. Ester Ledecká, a Czech athlete, became the third person, and the only woman in over ninety years to win gold medals in two different sports: alpine skiing and snowboarding. Furthermore, the US women’s ice hockey team won gold medals for the first time in over twenty years, after previously been bested in the Games by Canadian teams. Moreover, American athlete, Redmond Gerard, after a disappointing start, went on to become the youngest American man to win an Olympic gold since 1928, at only seventeen years old. He won the first gold for Team USA, which proceeded to win eight other gold medals out of twenty-three total medals. Norway led with the most medals won in total, with thirty-nine medals in total, with Germany following close behind with thirty-one medals in total.

Even with the Olympic message of peace, benevolence, and cooperation between countries, there was still much worry over the hostility between South and North Korea before the Games. Even so, as evidenced by the Parade of Nations, the countries managed to put their conflict aside in order to participate in the Games. The two nations, even though they competed separately, formed a unified women’s hockey team that played under the Korean unification flag. Over 35,000 people cheered as the flag was held between North Korean ice hockey athlete Hwang Chung-gum and South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong, symbolizing unity and peace in a time where hostility is prevalent.

This year’s Winter Olympics was rife with great, record defying moments, and a powerful political message that managed to transcend countries. Hopefully, the 2022 Beijing Games will bring something equally spectacular in tow!

ALL RISE – The Playoffs Are Here!

The air gets crisper, the leaves are changing color – that’s when you know fall has arrived. And, along with it, October baseball and the beauty of the postseason.

        This season in MLB was nothing short of historic. Individual performances from Giancarlo Stanton (59 HR, most since 2006) as well as from rookies Aaron Judge (52 HR, 114 RBI) and Cody Bellinger (39 HR, 97 RBI) sent shock waves across the league.

Cody Ballinger (LAD) – (Photo: CBS Sports)

Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) – (Photo: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports)

        But it wasn’t just individual players’ performances that stood out, as for the first time since 2003, three teams (Dodgers, Indians, and Astros) all won at least 100 games. The Indians’ performance was especially notable, as they accomplished the longest winning streak (22 games) for an AL team in MLB history. Pennant races came down to the last weekend for longshots like the Twins (103 losses last year) and Rockies, who made the postseason for the first time in 10 years. But after all this excitement, the real fun began with the AL and NL wild card games.

        The playoffs started with a bang, thanks to an exhilarating AL Wild Card game featuring the Yankees and the Twins. The game featured a wild beginning as both starting pitchers (Luis Severino and Ervin Santana) struggled. In the 1st inning alone, each team scored 3 runs thanks to home runs by Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario for the Twins and Didi Gregorius for the Yankees.

        The teams would exchange blows moving forward as Brett Gardner homered to make it 4-3 in the 2nd inning but the Twins would tie it in the top of the 3rd to make it 4-4. Then, in the bottom of the 3rd, a Greg Bird RBI single would put the Yankees right back on top.

        The big blow would come in the bottom of the 4th as Aaron Judge drilled a laser home run to make it 7-4 Yankees, electrifying the crowd and sending them into a frenzy. With the strength of their bullpen (8 ⅔ innings, 13ks) with notable performances especially from David Robertson (W, 3 ⅓ innings, 5ks), the Yankees would go on to win 8-4 and advance to the ALDS.

Aaron Judge celebrating his home run (Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

        Meanwhile, the NL Wild Card Game was a wild one out in the west, featuring two NL West rivals: the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

        Arizona came out of the gates quickly as a 3-run home run by MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and a 2-run home run by Daniel Descalso made it 6-0. The Rockies would not waver though, as they answered with four runs in the top of the 4th off of D-backs ace Zack Greinke and another in the 7th closing the gap to 6-5.
       However, in the bottom of the 7th, Archie Bradley (a relief pitcher) would come to bat with two men on and two outs. In a game full of craziness, he drilled a triple into the gap in perhaps the wildest play of the game, making the score 8-5.

Archie Bradley sliding in with a clutch triple. (NORM HALL / GETTY IMAGES)

        The Rockies answered right back in the top of the 8th. With Bradley now pitching, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back home runs to make the score 8-7. The D-backs would push right back, scoring 3 more times, highlighted by an A.J Pollock triple and making it 11-7.

     In the top of the 9th, the Rockies had one more chance. Fernando Rodney came on to pitch for the D-backs, and, despite giving up a run, was able to close it out sending Arizona onto the NLDS with the final score of 11-8.

    Both the AL and NL Wild Card Games had immense drama and back-and-forth action, setting the stage for the rest of the playoffs to unravel. If these games were any indication of what’s to come, this October will surely be one to remember.