North Korea

Olympic Ice Venues Ahead of Schedule in South Korea

In contrast to recent Olympic Games in Rio and Sochi, South Korea is ahead of schedule building its new venues.

Athletes from around the world have already taken to the ice for exhibitions and international competitions.

In April, the South Korea women’s hockey team played the North Korea women’s hockey team in the Gangneung Hockey Centre packed with fans. Organizers hope the game also shows the potential for the Olympics to set the stage for peace, at least symbolically.

This will be the first time the South Korea men’s hockey team will compete in the Olympics, having qualified because it’s the host nation, but hockey is quickly gaining popularity in the country.

“Short-track and speedskating, figure skating, they are very popular sports in Korea,” said Nancy Park of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Organizing Committee. “We also traditionally do very well at the Winter Olympic Games in these sports.”

Speedskating events will take place at the Gangneung Oval. By the start of the Olympics, the venue will have hosted a year of competition, including the 2017 World Speedskating Championships. Many of the medalists set personal records on the ice at the Oval.

Short-track speedskating will take place in the Gangneung Arena, which will also host figure skating. It was the first venue completed at Gangneung Olympic Park.

Yuna Kim won women’s figure skating gold in 2010, becoming a national hero. She christened the ice when Gangneung Arena was completed.

South Korea also excels at short-track, winning more Olympic medals than any other country.

Tickets are in high demand for figure skating and short-track. Olympic organizers used a lottery system to give locals access to some of the best seats.

The coastal cluster of venues also includes the Gangneung Curling Centre and the Kwandong Hockey Centre on the grounds of Kwandong University, where women’s hockey teams will compete.

At 6 p.m. Friday, News4 gets a bird’s eye view of the venues in the mountains of Pyeongchang.

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