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Winter Olympics 101: What’s New

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By Alicia Dziak

On Feb. 9, the world’s eyes will be on PyeongChang, South Korea for the opening ceremonies of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. The games will run through Sunday, Feb. 25, and athletes from around the globe will compete in various competitions within the following disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordic Combined, Short Track Speed Skating, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard and Speed Skating.

There are four new events added by the International Olympic Committee for 2018, which include big air in snowboarding and freestyle skiing (an event where the competitor rides a snowboard down a hill and performs tricks after launching off very large jumps), as well as mass start speed skating and mixed doubles curling.

In addition, six countries will be making their Winter Olympic debut, according to Olympic.org: Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore. A rundown of the new competitors is as follows:

Ecuador: Klaus Jungbluth Rodriguez, 38, will represent Ecuador in cross country skiing. He is known as the “Tarmac Skier” because of  his training on roller skis.

Eritrea: Canadian-Eritrean Shannon-Ogbani Abeda will not be the first African to take to the Alpine skiing slopes at the Olympic Winter Games, but he opens the way for Eritrea, the East African country where his parents are from.

Kosovo: Alpine skier Albin Tahiri is going to compete in all of the Alpine skiing disciplines, even if he is in fact more of a specialist in the speed events. He says he raced nearly every day in a different event in order to rack up enough FIS points to qualify for the Olympic Games, and finished off the season absolutely exhausted.

Malaysia: The tropical State of Malaysia is making its Winter Games debut with not one, but two competitors—Jeffrey Webb and Julian Yee.

Nigeria: Pilot Seun Adigun (who competed in the 100m hurdles in the London 2012 summer games) and her teammates Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga grew up and studied in the US. In 2014, Adigun turned to bobsleigh with the aim of reaching the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Singapore: At 18 years old, Cheyenne Goh becomes the first Singaporean athlete to compete at the Winter Games in Short Track Speed Skating.

For the competition schedule and more info, visit www.nbcolympics.com and pyeongchang2018.com.

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