The Winter Olympics Are Coming In Less Than 150 Days - by Wal Ozello

The 2018 Winter Olympics are less than 150 days away. Pencilstorm Contributor Wal Ozello will be providing on-going coverage leading up to the Olympics helping you prepare for what to watch for. 

The Winter Olympics is coming in 2018 and while it seems far on the horizon there are stories playing out today that will have a bigger impact than who are Jon Snow’s real parents. Here are the Top Three stories to pay attention to today.

Location, Location, Location…
The 2018 Winter Olympics are in Pyeongchang. When you search for that on Google Maps you’ll find it in South Korea with the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium about 55 miles from North Korea.  The Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be as closer to North Korea than Mansfield is to Columbus. For those of you living under a rock for the past year, the relationship between North and South Korea, let alone the rest of the world, has been less than ideal. Earlier this year, South Korea reached out to its northern neighbor for some Olympic partnership that only sports can create.  They proposed a joint North-South Korea women’s hockey team and offered to host some of the ski competition at a new North Korean ski resort.  North Korea declined both offers. Since then, North Korea has been testing several intercontinental ballistic missiles and the U.S. and South Korea just finished joint bombing drills… in Gangwon Providence - which Pyeongchang County resides in.  Then at the UN on Tuesday, President Trump declared that, “If it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Whoa. Khrushchev must be have looked down on that and said, "I just banged my shoe on that table, you sir, just drove head first into the deep end of the crazy pool."  All-in-all, this is much deeper argument than new Metallica vs. old Metallica. Keep an eye out folks, this story isn’t over, yet.

Falling Down The Mountain
Lindsey Vonn and potentially Bode Miller will be returning to compete in the Olympics. Lindsey is the one of the most successful women American skiers with Olympic medals, World Championship medals and World Cup titles.  She’ll be 33 in South Korea and this Olympics could be her last.  While most thought Sochi would be Bode’s last Olympics, rumor is that he’s planning to compete in Pyeongchang at age 40.  He’s the most decorated Olympic Athlete in alpine history and chances are he’s looking to solidify that position.  But those aren’t the name to look for… watch for Mikaela Shiffrin. She’s reigning Overall World Cup champion and the reigning Olympic and World Champion in slalom. Back in 2011 she became the U.S. Champion in Slalom… at age 16. Mikaela won her first World Cup event at age 17. The following year she won Gold in Sochi, becoming the youngest slalom champion in Olympic History. Since then, she’s won two World Championship gold medals, three World Cup slalom titles, and 24 career wins. Mikaela will do for the Olympic Alpine Skiing what Wonder Woman did for the Summer Blockbuster Movies… kick everyone else’s ass.  Here’s an impressive run for the 2017 World Championship where she beats her closest competitor by 1.64 seconds.

That "Other Team" Up North
Forget men's ice hockey during the Olympics.  It's a glorified all star game that lasts two weeks too long.  The real competition is in Women's Ice Hockey. They leave it all on the ice because they are competing at the highest level in their game and it's full contact guts and glory. The competition between the U.S. team and the Canadian team is fiercer than OSU vs. Michigan. While the U.S. team has won the World Championships the past four times and eight out of the last ten meetings, they haven't won Gold in the Olympics since 1998.  Who's beat them each time?  Canada.  They won gold in 2014, 2010, 2006 and 2002.  The last time the Canada held silver was the year U.S. got the gold - 1998.  The two teams will face each other at least four times before Pyeongchang, starting on October 25.  Keep a close eye on these showdowns.  While the U.S. has a great winning streak, I'm sure Canada's montra is going to be "The North Remembers."

And for those of you that don't think these girls can play, I can personally attest they can play hard.  A few years ago, I had the privileged of producing a profile of a High School Senior Goalie up in Duluth, Minnesota.  I stood on the ice as these girls skated a whirlwind around me.  It was just mind-blowing.  They want to prove they kick ass stronger than the Runaways wanted to prove they could rock with the best. Want to see some tough hits and and killer goals?  Check out this video below.

That's enough of a download for this week.  It's going to be a long winter ahead and I'll have more updates in the weeks to come.

Wal Ozello is a science fiction techno-thriller novelist and the author of Assignment 1989 ,  Revolution 1990, and Sacrifice 2086. When he's not writing or singing with the Columbus hairband, Armada, he can be found at the regulars table at Colin's Coffee.