Athletes Worry that 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea Could Be Cancelled

The North Koreans bombed an airliner prior to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the games still occurred so I don’t think a bunch of rhetoric is going to stop the Winter Olympics:

But here we are, talking about miniaturization and intercontinental ballistic missiles, fretting about that inflection point where words turn to bombs, understanding that not only PyeongChang next year but Tokyo in 2020 will live under the constant threat of annihilation from the most irrational of actors.

And it’s amid this dread that Olympians stare at the potential danger, weigh it against four years of grueling training for an unmatched apex and, well, shrug. They comprehend the gravity. They recognize the threat. They’ve just got better things to do than worry about it.

Maddie Bowman is 23 years old. She won Olympic gold in Sochi with a flawless halfpipe skiing run and went viral thanks to her grandma. She balances training for PyeongChang with studying for college, though neither keeps her from remaining historically conscious enough to grasp the threat of North Korea that has existed for decades.

Still, when Bowman attended a February test event at Bokwang Phoenix Park, where the freeskiing and snowboarding halfpipe contests will take place, no sense of impending doom imperiled her.

“When we went to South Korea, I felt safe,” Bowman told Yahoo Sports. “And in Russia, I felt pretty safe. I think as skiers, we obviously don’t see risk as a big thing in our lives. In talking with fellow athletes, it’s like, yeah, maybe the Olympics won’t happen, but it’s hard for us to see that risk. It’s not going to get in the way of my goals. I like to keep up with what’s going on in the world and am concerned with decisions we make as a country, but it’s not affecting my training.”

The chatter among fellow Olympians, Bowman said, centers more on the possibility of the PyeongChang Games being canceled rather than athletes pulling out because of concerns over the region’s stability.  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but unless an actual conflict breaks out I would be very surprised if the Winter Olympics is cancelled.

Steph Curry Takes On Giant Inflatable on Korean Variety Show

Steph Curry just got to experience what it feels like to be on a Korean variety show:

Steph Curry is a man of many talents—he’s arguably the best shooter in NBA history, he’s a two-time World Champion and he’s a damn good golfer.

Brother Seth isn’t too shabby of a player himself, but even the mighty Curry brothers are no match for giant inflatables. Particularly not when the basket the Currys are shooting on is literally spinning, while the other side gets a hoop that’s more than twice regulation size.

The Currys faced these monumental odds on a Korean variety show, where they played against a team of Korean comedians.  [Sports Illustrated via a reader tip]

You can read more at the link and see the videos from the show below:

 

Former US Ambassador to Korea Returns to Cheer On Doosan Bears On Opening Day

It looks like former US Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert is a really big fan of the Doosan Bears:

Mark Lippert (C), former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, waves to fans while attending a Korea Baseball Organization game between the Doosan Bears and the Hanwha Eagles at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on March 31, 2017. (Yonhap)

Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert returned to Seoul on Friday to attend a baseball game.

Lippert, whose term ended in January after a little over two years, attended the 2017 Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) season opener between the home team Doosan Bears and the Hanwha Eagles at Jamsil Stadium.

A Bears official said Lippert had contacted the club about 10 days ago saying he wanted to be here for the first game of the new season.

During his time here, Lippert, an avid baseball fan, had been an honorary ambassador for the KBO. The Bears are his favorite team, and he often traveled across the nation to watch them in postseason play.  [Yonhap]

Korea Adds North American Born Hockey Players to Its National Team

Just another example of how the Olympics has become a professional sports league which even has its own free agency period:

Canadian-born ice hockey player Brock Radunske, second from right, speaks with his teammates in the national team in this file photo taken March 27, 2013 at the ice rink of the National Training Center in Seoul. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-cheol

Since the Canadian-born ice hockey player Brock Radunske joined Anyang Halla to become the first naturalized Korean athlete, five more foreign-born players have migrated to Korea. Matt Dalton, Eric Reagan, Brian Young and Michael Swift are all from Canada and Mike Testwuide is American-born.

The six foreign-born athletes are now playing for Korea’s national team, making the once homogeneous team diverse. Foreign-born athletes account for nearly 25 percent of the 25-member men’s hockey team.

Jim Paek, the national hockey team manager, said diversity has made the men’s ice hockey team stronger.   [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

American Hopes to Represent South Korea at 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

It is pretty clear that the Olympics have turned into a professional sports league considering how it has its own free agency period now for countries to recruit athletes from other countries:

South Korea’s figure skating pair Min Yu-ra (R) and Alexander Gamelin wait for their score in the ice dance free dance program after performing at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

After a solid performance at an International Skating Union (ISU) competition here, South Korea’s figure skating pair Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin said Friday they really want to compete in front of home crowds at the Winter Olympics next year.

Min and Gamelin, who have been skating together since 2015, finished eighth among 16 ice dance teams at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul. The ISU competition, open to non-Europeans, is one of the test events for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

“We received a lot of energy from home crowds even when our names were announced,” Min said. “Since the PyeongChang Olympics is going to be here, we expect lots of support from fans. We’re so excited.”

Min and Gamelin were also eighth last year, but this time they had a better score, improving 6.27 points from 2016 to finish with 144.69 points Friday.

“Last year, we didn’t have enough preparations because we had little time skating together,” Min said. “But this year, we prepared well. We wanted to get a better result than last year, but other teams skated better this time. We’re satisfied with the result today.”

Gamelin is an American citizen, but is seeking naturalization to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year with Min.

At ISU competitions, as long as one member of a tandem is South Korean, that duo can compete under the South Korean flag. At the Olympics, however, both members of a team must be South Korean citizens to represent the country.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Olympians Kim Yu-na and Son Yeon-jae Caught Up In South Korean Political Scandal

Considering Kim Yu-na’s much higher profile of being a well known Olympic champion I think it was much easier for her to say no to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism compared to lower profile athletes like Son Yeon-jae who netizens are now angered with:

Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae acknowledges spectators on the podium after winning the gold medal in the hoop event at the 7th Asian Gymnastics Championships at a university gym in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province, central South Korea, on June 12, 2015. (Yonhap)

Rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae acknowledges spectators on the podium after winning the gold medal in the hoop event at the 7th Asian Gymnastics Championships at a university gym in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province, central South Korea, on June 12, 2015. (Yonhap)

Suspicion is rising that the government disadvantaged Olympic champion figure skater Kim Yu-na because she would not cooperate with the scandal-ridden manipulative ties of President Park Geun-hye.

KBS TV reported Saturday that Kim had been on Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism blacklist for turning down a ministry invitation to attend a public trial of “Neulpum calisthenics” in 2014.

The exercise routine was developed by Cha Eun-taek, a commercial director and close acquaintance of the president’s confidant Choi Soon-sil. (……)

Meanwhile, Son Yeon-jae’s agency Galaxia SM website has crashed under high traffic volumes on Sunday evening, as the suspicion spilled over to Son, whom netizens suspect to have benefited from the minsitry for complying with the invitation. [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Two American Figure Skaters Could Receive ROK Citizenship to Compete in 2018 Olympics

I wonder if these two American figure skaters would be given dual citizenship or will they have to renounce their US citizenship?:

S.Korea May Grant Citizenship to Foreign Athletes Ahead of Pyeongchang Olympics

South Korea will likely grant citizenship to four foreign athletes in preparation of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee met Wednesday to discuss the issue at the Korean National Training Center in northeastern Seoul.

The four include two American figure skaters, Alexander Gamelin and Themistocles Leftheris, and two Russian biathletes.

The two American figure skaters paired with South Korean partners and have been competing in ISU championships as South Korean teams since June of last year.  [KBS World Radio]