Over ski week, senior Arielle Beak was part of an event that very few ever have the chance to attend: the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
While there, she attended the mens Olympic ice hockey quarterfinal between Slovenia and Norway. The experience was much different than one might have expected.
“[T]he first thing I realized was that the layout of the Olympics themselves aren’t all in one place. There’s different venues that you have to visit for specific events,” Beak said.
For example, there are several different sections within the Gangneung Hockey Centre Village, where the hockey matches are held and where Beak traveled to watch the event. The village contains a massive parking complex, as well as an enormous merchandise store. Then, there is the hockey arena itself.
“Even just walking into the arena was such a surreal moment, when you see the huge ceilings, sweeping cameras, and Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic banners everywhere,” Beak said.
However, the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Village itself dealt with more than just Olympic athletics. It had exhibits showcasing everything from art to technology.
“[T]here were lots of buildings dedicated to showcasing new technology being developed in Seoul. They were sort of interactive museum style buildings where you could try out new A.I. equipment, look at robots, and play games. There was even an art gallery for [artist] Nam June Paik,” Beak said.
Hosting the Winter Olympics was also a major source of pride for South Korea, with citizens priding themselves on everything from their country’s skill at speed skating to the exposure of Korean culture and the honor of hosting the games.
“My mom and I went into [a viewing tent] when we were walking around the city at night, and there was a surprising amount of people in there, just getting shelter from the cold and cheering on Korea,” Beak said.
For Beak, the experience of going to the Olympics was unlike anything else.
“Just going to my first Olympics was an incredible experience in itself, and it’s pretty surreal to think about how you’re in the same area as some of the best athletes in the world,” Beak said.