There are still 10 days left in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, but this year’s games are already shaping up to be unforgettable. Surprisingly, along with breathtaking athletic performances and the first ever unified Korean team, PyeongChang’s cold weather promises to be one of the most memorable features of these Olympics.
Having cold weather at a Winter Olympics doesn’t seem that remarkable — it is winter, after all. But PyeongChang’s winter conditions are different. According to AccuWeather, the South Korean city is the coldest location on Earth at its latitude. On top of this, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver were both warmer than average, and PyeongChang could be the coldest Olympics since the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Before the games even began, there were concerns that the opening ceremony would be so cold that audience members would catch hypothermia. To combat this, organizers handed out warming kits to attendees, which included hats, blankets, and seat warmers. But it’s not just spectators who are feeling the chill. On February 6th, Reuters reported that the bitter cold was warping competitors’ skis, forcing them to purchase new supplies.
Journalists and commentators have been affected, too. One commentator, Amy Williams, tweeted that there had been reports of water-based makeup freezing on people’s faces in South Korea.
The freezing temperatures and biting wind chill have also caused several events to be delayed. On February 12th, temperatures reached three degrees Fahrenheit, and the extreme conditions delayed the women’s snowboarding slopestyle finals by 75 minutes. The qualifying rounds had been canceled the day before, after 41 out of 50 competitors either wiped out or forfeited due to strong winds. Alpine skiing has been postponed three times, pushed to February 15th because of the winds. The women’s slalom has also been moved to February 16th.
Luckily, the high winds are forecast to die down by February 15th and 16th, meaning that events planned on those days should be able to take place according to schedule.
While it’s a given that the Winter Olympics will be cold, the complications caused by PyeongChang’s cold weather are outlandish. We hope that future events run smoothly and that everyone at the games is able to stay safe and warm!