Alright, we've finally arrived at the Olympics post! This one has been a challenge to write because I have so many things to say. Leading up to our trip I did a lot of google searches trying to research logistics, the ins and outs of attending an Olympics, and most importantly what to pack, but could not find any information out there on these topics (I was shocked! I guess companies don't pay influencers/bloggers to go instagram about this stuff yet). After our trip I thought I'd like to do a write up in case this blog post can help anyone out there looking to attend an Olympics! That said, I broke this up into 2 posts. The first (this one!) is about what we did each day, and the second (this one), covers the logistics & planning of attending the 2018 Winter Olympics XXIII. So here we go!
Day One - Pairs Figure Skating Finals + Sweden vs. Norway Hockey
We took a bullet train from Seoul, South Korea to Gangneung (the Coastal Cluster which had primarily skating venues) Wednesday morning. Our hotel was about a 30min drive from the train station so we dropped off our luggage then got right back in that same cab to drive back to the Olympic venues. Most of our group had tickets for the pairs figure skating finals that morning. It was so cool to see my favorite winter Olympic sport live! The funny thing is, it felt like any other normal figure skating event you'd attend back in the states--except the North Korean cheer squad was in the section next to us!
After that event we had some time to kill so we went to the 'Olympics Live' area where you could watch the live stream of other sports going on. The Olympics cover a TON of land area just by nature of the various sports and their arenas so this was a great resource! We were able to catch the end of the cross country skiing finals which were pretty epic if you recall, while fueling up with a beer and ramen.
We were hoping to snag tickets to a round of curling or speed skating, but the Koreans snatched all those tickets up. We wound up going to Sweden vs. Norway hockey, because, why not! After the game we hit the (very tiny) town for some Korean BBQ and watched speed skating on TV at the restaurant. I've got to give a shout out to my homegirl, Hopper, for carrying us through the weekend with her fine Korean skills. If it weren't for her, we wouldn't have been able to get out of the Olympics bubble and get some local grub! Once the speed skating ended we raced back to get on the last shuttle of the day to the hotel.
A very tired crew, we all got our luggage from the front desk and made our way into our beds. The next morning we awoke to the most spectacular view from our hotel room!! It was dark when we checked in so we had no idea we'd have a gorgeous oceanfront view when we drew back the drapes (photo of the view from our room below). The hotel we originally booked wasn't completed in time, so they put us up in this hotel instead and notified us a few days prior to our arrival. We totally lucked out in that this was a significant upgrade from our original accommodations. They also had a delicious feast for breakfast every morning. The perfect way to get those nutrients in before a long day!
Day Two - Ski Jumping Qualifiers
After we had breakfast and layered up, we took the bullet train to Pyeongchang (the Mountain Cluster) which is where the main 'Olympic Village' was located. They had a little 'town' of igloos and sculptures built out of snow & ice. The main medaling ceremonies also took place in this area, though we never saw one in person (they do one ceremony per day for all the event finals that occurred). The only event we had pre-bought tickets for on this day was Ski Jumping Qualifiers (3 out of the 4 ski jumpers on the US team trained at Norge Ski Club which is a few miles from where I grew up! #hometownpride). That event didn't start until later in the evening so we had a lot of time on our hands. We tried to get into the luge warm-ups, but they only let friends and family in. Once we were denied, we decided to pop into a local billiards bar by the luge venue to kill some time and of course drink some soju.
My sister brought some blank pillowcases for us to make signs for the event. The owner of the bar saw us going to town on them and was SUCH a gem. He brought us tape to tape them down, put a piece of paper under them so the marker wouldn't bleed through, and even busted out his iron to iron them for us!! I haven't mentioned this yet, but the Koreans are absolutely WONDERFUL people and were amazing Olympic hosts!! I have a soft spot in my heart for all the lovely ones we encountered!
Many hours later, we decided to try to get into ski jumping early if we could to watch the warm ups. We got in 2hrs prior to the start, when the gates opened. Little did we know, we were about to freeze our buns off for the next few hours! The thing about ski jumping is, you're already in the mountains (where it was way colder than at the coastal cluster), but you're literally standing on a sheet of ice. I think it was about 20° not including wind chill. Naturally, we were drinking beers during the warm-ups hoping a beer coat would surely help, but not when your beer starts freezing before you can finish it!! We brought dozens of hand + foot warmers, and bought body heat packs in Seoul, but no amount of heat packs could help! That said, now you understand the expressions on our faces in these photos. Literally have never been colder.
Regardless, this event was SO COOL! I had never watched ski jumping before so it was awesome to be exposed to a new sport. We also had fun making some friends who were doing the stay warm dance with us (you can ask my sister Dani or I for the choreography--we gotchu). Though the Americans didn't perform as well as they were hoping, it was awesome to cheer all the jumpers on. My fingers were beyond numb so I didn't get a photo of anyone jumping; use your imagination.
Day Three - Women's Freestyle Slopestyle Qualifiers + USA vs. Russia Hockey
On day 2 when we were bumming around to kill time, we popped into a box office because we decided we needed to get 2 activities in for our final day! There weren't a ton of options, so most of us bought premium tickets in the grandstand to Women's Freestyle Slopestyle Qualifiers + Finals, while my brother snagged a ticket to Women's Super G Qualifiers (he got up close to Lindsey Vonn!). The morning of day 3 we took the train back to Pyeongchang then hopped on a shuttle out to the Slopestyle venue. I've got to say, we totally balled out for these tickets, but it was the BOMB! Being back at the mountain cluster during the day (sun, hallelujah!!) for a finals event with such an amazing spectator vibe was so fun.
We knew nothing about this event (here's the 4-1-1 if you're interested), had never watched it, and didn't know a single athlete, but that's what was so cool! Everyone was making friends with everyone, and all the spectators were cheering every athlete on. Each athlete got 3 runs, and only the skiers' best score counted toward the final results. The energy was incredible! I will never forget watching USA's Maggie Voisin nail her 3rd run. It put her in 4th place but my goodness that moment was incredible!
We needed to warm up after Slopestyle so we did as the Koreans do, and went for traditional Korean BBQ back in Gangneug. Traditional also included a squatty potty outside & down the block from the restaurant... don't miss this part of Asia! Despite the bathroom situation, the food was fantastic.
After eating, we hung around the venues in the coastal cluster for a bit, Dani & I made our star debut on Barstool Sports, then we headed into our final event--USA vs. Russia hockey! Our final day was pretty fantastic because as you can imagine, the energy in this venue was unreal. David texted me an hour before game time and said 'you have to get in here!!! this place is electric!' to which I replied, 'gimme a few, just met donnie does from barstool.' #proudwifemoment Anyway, the Americans got clobbered and DPN got in one too many arguments with the Russians, but it was pretty phenomenal to be a spectator at one of the world's most intense rivalries.
After the game, we headed back for another peaceful slumber at the lovely Tops10 hotel then hopped on the first train back to Seoul. We attended events in the middle of the Olympics so it was cool to keep following along in the States (way more enjoyable to watch the Olympics in English!!)
That rounds out our Olympics itinerary! If you want to see more, I created an instagram story highlight of all my stories during our time in Pyeongchang that you can view on my page. In my next post I cover logistics, investment & packing tips for the Winter Olympics.