Tag Archives: South Korea

The Road to PyeongChang? Seriously?

Apparently there is something going on next year in February and March. Not sure what it is but maybe it’s one of those new reality TV shows about survival. People keep talking about the road to PyeongChang. I don’t know about you but the only road I know that goes to PyeongChang runs through North Korea so maybe I am right!

Of course not! It’s the Winter Olympics and Paralympics! If nuclear war hasn’t broken out by then the eyes of the biathlon world will turn to South Korea. There are other ‘so-called’ sports taking place too but none of interest to us! 😉

PyeongChang is a county in the Gwangwon province of South Korea. It is located in the Taebaek mountain region and is around 180km east of the capital Seoul. Happy 700 PyeongChang is the slogan of the area. The average height of the region is 700 metres above sea level and apparently this is the optimal elevation to live at. Expect lots of elderly spectators at the biathlon then.

The biathlon races will take place at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre which will also be used for sports such as cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. Or as I call them biathlon’s annoying little cousins! 😉

The arena has 4500 seats and room for 3000 people to stand giving an official capacity of 7500. The altitude difference for the tracks is from 749 to 796 metres. They weren’t joking about the height of the area!

There will be 11 biathlon events taking place. On the 10th of February is the Women’s Sprint followed by the Men’s Sprint on the 11th. Both Pursuit races take place on the 12th. The 14th and 15th are for the Women’s and Men’s Individuals respectively. The Mass Starts are on the 17th and 18th. The Relays are all at the end of the programme with the Mixed Relay on the 20th, the Women’s Relay on the 22nd and excitingly the Men’s Relay on the 23rd!!! An auspicious day indeed! 😉

The races will all be held in the evening local time which means if you are watching in Europe they will be on mid-morning or early afternoon when everyone is at work. If you are watching in North America they will be on very early morning when you are asleep! Great news!

Defending their title (because let’s face it no one remembers who won in Sochi!) will be Anastasiya Kuzmina and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in the Sprints, Darya Domracheva and Martin Fourcade in the Pursuits and the Individuals and Domracheva and Emil Hegle Svendsen in the Mass Starts. Hoping to hang on to the Relay titles will be Norway in the Mixed Relay, Ukraine in the Women’s Relay and Russia in the Men’s Relay.

It should be a great Olympic Games and it will be followed in March from the 9th to the 18th by the Paralympics. There will be 18 biathlon events over 3 categories. Men and women compete in the visually impaired races, the standing races or the sitting races depending on their impairment.

They will race over 3 distances which are the short, middle and lndividual. The short distance is 6km for the women and 7.5 for the men. The middle distance is 10km or 12.5km and the Indvidual is 12.5km or 15km.

The champions from Sochi in the short distance for the women were Russia’a Mikhalina Lysova (VI), Alena Kaufman (standing) and Germany’s Andrea Eskau (sitting). For the men it was the Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko (VI),Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtsev (standing) and Russia’s Roman Petushkov (sitting).

The middle distance gold medals were won by Lysova and Kaufman and Germany’s Anja Wicker in the sitting race. The men’s were won by Lukayenko, Russia’s Azat Karachurin and Petushkov. The Individual titles went to Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova and Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova. Winning for the men were Russia’s Nikolai Polukhin, Ukraine’s Gyrgorii Vovchynskyi and Petushkov completeing his clean sweep in the sitting races.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether the Russian team will be allowed to compete in PyeongChang as they are currently banned after the McLaren Report findings. The decision will be made in September by the International Paralympic Committee and will be an important one as you can see where a lot of the medals tend to go!

There are less than six months to go before the Games get underway. The biathletes are already quite far along the road to PyeongChang. However I would recommend booking a flight. Seriously!!! 😉

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Over the Mun!

mun

Now that the Sochi Olympics is long gone and we have forgotten what happened and who won what (only joking!) it’s time to turn our attention to the next Winter Olympics which will take place in Pyeongchang in South Korea. For those of you who don’t know South Korea is at the same latitude as Spain and can get very cold in winter as I know from personal frozen cheeked experience! Therefore it should make a great place for the next Olympics.

All the South Korean biathletes will be looking forward to 2018 and I have decided to cast my eye over one of them here. Ji-hee Mun -pronounced ‘moon’ otherwise my title doesn’t work so well! – is one of South Korea’s best known biathletes. Born in Jeonbuk Province on the 2nd of August 1988 she will be coming up to 30 by the time we reach Pyeongchang.

She was the only female biathlete from South Korea to go to Sochi accompanying the vastly experienced Lee In-bok. She finished 74th in the Sprint event and 69th in the Individual. On the World Cup her best result to date was a 37th place finish in the Sprint event in Pyeongchang in 2007/08. This was one of two occasions that she has appeared in the TOP 40, the other coming in the Antholz Individual where she came 39th. Ji-hee also has many TOP 60 finishes to her name and is a prominent member of the South Korean relay teams.

Winning the right to host the Winter Olympics in 2018 is a big deal for South Korea and is a fantastic chance to increase the popularity of biathlon in the country. You won’t be surprised to learn that it is not a well-known or well supported sport there but with the Olympics it is a fantastic opportunity for biathletes like Ji-hee to showcase their sport at home. They also had a chance to do this in 2009 when the World Championships where held there. It was nice for the South Koreans to have their families and friends be able to watch them and with the bigger stage of the Olympics it will bring more attention to them and the sport.

Ji-hee started biathlon at the age of 14 and I am sure she never expected to have the chance to compete in a home Olympics some 16 years later. It is only the beginning of the 4 year cycle that will take us to Pyeongchang and I am sure all the South Korea team will be working really hard to make sure they are selected for the team and that they can compete well and show their fellow citizens what biathlon is all about. Ji-hee must really be looking forward to this and if she can get some good results at home I know she will be Over the Mun!

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