Look Back: Pyeongchang 2018

The 2018 Winter Olympics marked the first time I covered an Olympics — my seventh! — without also writing a daily blog for this site. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why, after writing a Daily Olympics Blog every Olympic day since 2008 (I hadn’t yet launched this blog when I covered the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin), I failed to do so in Korea. The simplest answer is that I didn’t want to as much as I did in the past. When I arrived in Pyeongchang, I was burnt out and tired, and I spent the first five days in Korea suffering from a massive migraine. Just doing my work was tough enough. The thought of trying to pull extra thoughts out of my brain seemed an impossible, unnecessary task.

Since arriving home from the Olympics (with the Norovirus, no less), I’ve been asked a lot of the same questions about my time in Korea. So I thought I’d use this blog to answer a few. In lieu of a Daily Olympics Blog, here is Pyeongchang In One Blog. I’ve listed the questions in order of how frequently I’ve been asked them.

How was Korea?!

The toughest question to answer is always the first question anyone asks. My quick answer: Cold. Successful. Incredibly well run. The venues felt safe, yet relaxed. The volunteers were incredibly helpful, sweet, mostly young women. The mountain venues were at low altitude and the temps were cold, so the courses and halfpipe held up well and the competitions were, for once, Olympic-caliber. Right. Except for snowboard slopestyle. Yes, it was really that windy. No, the women’s event shouldn’t have run.

Was it really that cold?

Yes. It was reportedly the coldest Olympics in history. Organizers passed out blankets and beanies before the Opening Ceremony, and even demonstrated, in a press conference, how to use them to keep warm. No one reported keeping warm at the Opening Ceremony. I cover outdoor mountain sports while slow-clapping the smarties who choose to cover hockey and figure skating, and the first week was especially frosty in the hills. I thought Aspen in January was cold, but that felt like spring break in comparison.

Did the buses run on time? (From reporter friends who’ve covered the Olympics.)

Oh, did they. This was both my favorite thing about Pyeongchang and the reason I’m most excited for Tokyo 2020. South Korea also has incredible WiFi, even in the on-time buses.

What was your favorite moment? 

My favorite moments, the moments I’ll remember years from now, mostly took place when I wasn’t working. I loved the late evenings chatting with my colleagues at the pop-up Italian restaurant down the way from our apartments, hanging with my roomies between assignments and, despite the fact that I was sick as a dog, attending the gold medal men’s curling match with the ESPN crew, where I watched my first curling match AND the U.S. win its first gold medal in curling. Am I saying I’m their good-luck charm?

What was your favorite story you wrote? 

It was such a pleasure to follow Chloe Kim’s Olympic story through her first Games, and her first gold medal. I traveled to Korea with Chloe and her family a year earlier to begin reporting what would become the cover story of our January issue, and I wrote a few stories about her journey while covering the Games, including after the halfpipe final when she fulfilled her golden destiny. I covered a lot of very cool moments in Korea, but Chloe’s journey from baby girl dragon to full-fledged dragon was a favorite.

How’d you celebrate your birthday? 

Every four years, I celebrate my birthday at the Winter Olympics. The best part about this one was that, because we were 21 hours ahead of LA, my birthday lasted for two days — and thanks to my colleagues, it was more like three days.  There was a dinner, and another dinner, and a cake and singing. My birthday always falls near the end of the Games, and the celebration provides a nice booster shot to help me through to the end.

Is the Olympics still going on?!

This was commonly asked near the end of the Games, from about day 12 on, and typically by a friend who was calling to ask if I wanted to grab dinner — in Los Angeles. “What?! You’re still in Korea? I thought the Olympics were over. Okay, call me next week.”