In a historic moment whose impact reverberated far beyond the happily noisy confines of Kwandong Hockey Center, diplomacy took the unusual form of ponytailed hockey players and a squadron of identically dressed cheerleaders who sang and swayed and clapped while a unique occasion unfolded on the ice below them.
The unified women’s hockey team of players from North and South Korea took to the ice amid waving flags and smiles of politicians who have long been bitter opponents. Long after the details of Korea’s 8-0 loss to a sound Swiss team are forgotten, the fact that North and South banded together and wore jerseys depicting a joined Korean Peninsula will be remembered as a landmark occasion.
“It definitely was a special moment, debuting as a unified team,” said Korea defenseman Marissa Brandt, who was born in South Korea but was adopted and raised by a couple in Minnesota. She’s known here by her birth name, Park Yoonjung.
Before these Winter Games get too old, it seems as if the mystery of the capital letter needs to be explained. The Games are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to most American news outlets — except the region decided to change the “c” to an uppercase letter, making it PyeongChang.
Why? Because it wants to be further distinguished from Pyongyang, which is the home of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he of nuclear arsenal fame.
It would be like Altadena changing its name to AltaDena because the city is embarrassed that sister city Pasadena continually sets up police traps to catch people prematurely crossing the yellow turn line onto Arroyo Parkway.
Coach Tony Granato had a full complement of players for the first time at the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey practice Saturday. Yet, there was an empty stall in the team’s locker room at Gangneung Hockey Centre, the space occupied only by a jersey that will never be worn, a vivid reminder of a loss that can never be erased.
American teenager Red Gerard has won the first gold medal for the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics, edging Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris for the top spot in men's slopestyle snowboarding.
Gerard, a 17-year-old from Silverthorne, Colorado, drilled his third and final run on the chilly but sun-splashed course at Phoenix Snow Park. His score of 87.16 was just enough to edge Parrot.
Parrot washed out in his first two runs but nailed his final trip through the tricky series of rails and jumps to post a score of 86.00. McMorris took third after putting up a score of 85.20 in his second run.
Strong winds that are expected to increase throughout the day forced the postponement of the men’s downhill Sunday, in what would have been the first Alpine skiing event of the Pyeongchang Games.
“With this being an outdoor sport, this is not abnormal,” said Sasha Rearick, the U.S. men’s Alpine coach. “The excitement, the energy on the team right now is fantastic…. Now the key is to take that energy and harness it, stay relaxed and then be able to ramp back up.”
The event has been rescheduled for Thursday and the men’s super-G pushed to Friday, originally an off day.