Many of you know that the 2018 winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The effort a host city must take in preparing to host the games is endless. Our group had the opportunity to tour the facilities. Not all are completed, but seeing the work in progress is amazing. We spent most of our time at the ski jump tower. We toured the biathlon stadium and rode the gondola over the ski hills. The skating arena will start construction soon, and we stayed in the village. Josh Tyler and Kimber Behrends have a lot to say about this experience. Please enjoy their stories. – Chris Lebens

Josh Tyler

Today marks the 3rd week we have been in Korea. I could not express the pure amazement and awesomeness of this trip. I have been seeing so much and experience things in Korea that are unlike the United States and it gives me a whole new perspective on the Korean culture and day-to-day life. This trip has also given me a newfound respect for the way countries value sports outside the United States. In the US people think it’s the best place in the world for sports, which is arguable. But I’ve come to realize the sport is more than just the game on the field. It’s the people behind the scenes, the fans, and the front office that truly make sports. The opportunity this trip has given me has shown me so much that you can’t learn in a classroom. I continue to learn day in and day out and will continue to until our journey ends.

Some of the most substantial experiences we have had of late are getting to travel to the PyeongChang site for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Holy cow, that place was just incredible. We saw so much of what the park is going to look like. Although it’s under construction, we could see the plan, the vision, of what would be the pedestal of sports in the coming years. I was blown away by the structures and it just gave me a feel of joy to see how substantial the Olympics are. Something really cool was, we were able to travel to the top of ski jump that will be used for the Olympics, and it was so high. We took a ride up to the top and then a 6-story elevator ride to the small jump that was just so high off the ground. I do not to heights so it took a lot for me to go to the top. But I am so glad I did because I got to see something that not a lot of people get to see. The top of an Olympic jump and it was just incredible. I will be able to have that experience for the rest of my life. It was truly incredible.

Another experience was we got to see the park’s plan and what it will look like when the construction is completely done. The vision of the project is incredible. To see what the facility was going to look like in 2018 is awesome. Korea is going to be an incredible host for the Olympics and I cannot wait to watch in 2018. While we toured the facilities, we were able to stay at a resort. The resort was awesome. It had a mountain coaster ride, ATV course, horse riding, and there was a water park not to far from where we stayed. We had a chance to experience the water park and had so much fun. We rode 4 different slides, went through the lazy river, and relaxed in the hot tubs and saunas. I even had fish eat all the dead skin off my feet! It was weird and tickled so bad but cool to have done. We all had a good time and it was something nice to relax too after long days of touring at the Olympic parks.
This trip continues to amazing me day in and day out and I continue to make new memories and experience things everyday that I would never had been able to do if I didn’t come to Korea for this study abroad. We travel to the JSA tomorrow (7/18) and I cant wait to see what it is like. Not that many people have experienced the JSA and I cannot wait to tell the story when I get back! We also leave for Busan on Sunday where we are going to experience a whole different part of Korea. I am very excited to see what its like and to add to the experience of this trip! Until next time!

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Kimber Behrends

Winter Olympic Park

At the beginning of our third week here in Korea, we took a trip up to the 2018 Winter Olympic site in Pyeongchang. We spent just about three days up at this location, one of which we actually got a tour of the facilities that have already been built for the Olympics. The facility that we were able to get a tour of was called the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium. The first place at the stadium that we went to was the bottom of the ski jump. Looking up from the bottom amazed me because of the size of the jumps that the skiers fly off of and some how land. Other than the sheer size of the jumps, I noticed a tower at the top of the jumps that very closely resembles the Space Needle in Seattle, but was just a little bit smaller. During our tour around the facility, I learned that the tower actually has a restaurant at the top as a part of the sustainability of the facility, just like the Space Needle. After spending a few minutes at the base of the jumps, we had a guide take us to the second floor where we were allowed to actually walk to the edge of the smaller ski jump.

To get to the edge of the ski jump we had to take a gondola up to the top of the hill. Then, once we were at the top, we had to take an elevator up to the second floor of the tower, which lead to the jump. Once on the second floor, we had to walk across a bridge to the start of the jump. Walking over this bridge was not an easy task for many of us because if you looked down at your feet you could see the ground about thirty yards below you. This especially scared our Korean friend, BK, who we basically had to carry over the bridge to the start of the jump. As I looked over the edge of the jump, I knew this was a once in a lifetime occurrence and I had to absorb as much of the experience as I could. The feeling was incredible, especially knowing that in less than four years there will be Olympic skiers standing in the exact same spot as I was standing at that moment. The view from this ski jump was also breath taking because I could see for miles. Even though it was a slightly foggy day in Pyeongchang, I was amazed at how beautiful the area was. If only I could come back in four years to witness the Winter Olympic games in person.

After our tour of the actual ski jumps, we went back down to the bottom and walked over to where the Korean Winter Olympic athletes train. There were three practice jumps, each a different size, that were made of a turf-like material. This was where the athletes actually practice without snow, but while wearing real skis. I thought that sounded like it would not work until a ninth grade girl who was training for the Olympics climbed to the top of the highest jump and showed us how she does it. It was amazing to see someone actually ski down on the turf jump and land like it wasn’t hard at all. I really hope the girl we watched that day makes it into the next Winter Olympics so that I can watch her compete for the gold metal. Touring this facility made me feel like I was a part of history and now I am excited to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics in four years.