2018 Winter Olympic Games preview

U.S. athletes go for gold in Pyeongchang starting Thursday

Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com | American snowboarder Shaun White will compete in his fourth Olympic Games despite suffering a brutal facial injury last October.

This year is an even-numbered year, which means athletes from all around the world will be gathering in one location to compete against each other on one of the biggest stages in sports.

Kicking off on Thursday, with the opening ceremonies officially jump-starting everything on Friday night, the Winter Olympics make their triumphant return this week. The games will be hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

There are a couple of notable storylines heading into these games, the most prominent of which is the Russian doping scandal.

In December, Russian athletes were banned from competing in this year’s games because of widespread cheating involving a longtime history of blood doping.

However, athletes who are able to prove they did not cheat will be able to compete under a neutral flag titled “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” According to CNN, “They will wear a uniform with that name on it, and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies for Russian athletes.”

This is a massive deal because of the string of success Russia has had at the Winter Olympics. While many of its athletes will still be allowed to compete, Russia will not get the credit for any of the medals it wins.

One of the premier events at the Winter Olympics is the hockey tournament, but the National Hockey League made the decision to not take a break in this season’s schedule to allow their athletes to participate.

Many players were extremely upset about this decision, and the quality of hockey in the Games will clearly not be as high as it would be if the league’s players were on their country’s teams.

In other news, Shaun White will be returning to compete in his fourth straight Olympic games. He won the gold medal in the halfpipe in both 2006 and 2010, rattling one high-flying, skyscraping trick after another.

In 2014, “The Flying Tomato” had a very rough go of it, failing to medal at all. A few months ago, while training for South Korea, White fell face-first into the halfpipe and needed 62 stitches along with a slew of medical assistance to get his face healed.

The 31-year-old did not let that deter him from being prepared for the start of the Games, and he earned a perfect score in a recent competition to qualify.

After splitting his attention in 2014 between slopestyle and halfpipe events, White will only be competing in the halfpipe this time around. Now it’s time to see if he will be able to redeem himself after that sub-par performance four years ago.

Lindsey Vonn, a two-time Olympic medalist, also had her share of struggles throughout her career, and the alpine skier enters these games with renewed confidence and excitement.

After battling injury after injury for years, she is hoping to stay healthy enough to earn a medal in South Korea.

She competed for Team USA in the Winter Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010 but was forced to sit out the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, because of a knee injury.

To date, she has just one gold medal to her name from the downhill event in the Vancouver 2010 games, but if her last race was any indication of her comeback, she may very well be in the running again.

She won her final World Cup downhill on Sunday as a tuneup to the 2018 games.

South Korea is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so it may be difficult for some to watch the events live.

The opening ceremonies will be live at 6 a.m. on Friday and will be broadcasted on NBC at 8 p.m.

By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~