Swedish Charlotte Kalla wins maiden gold at Winter Olympics in skiathlon

The first gold medal in Pyeongchang 2018 was won by the Swedish Charlotte Kalla in the women’s skiathlon. Kalla finished the race in 40 minutes, 44.9 seconds while Norway’s Marit Bjorgen was second. While, Finnish Krista Parmakoski
Incidentally, Norwegian Bjorgen still remains as the most decorated woman in the Winter Olympics, with a cumulative 11 medals. She is very close to making the world record that is held by her countrywoman, Ole Einar Bjorndalen for 13 medals.
With the exception of Parmakoski, both other women were present on the winner’s podium at Sochi in 2014.
The skiathlon is a 15 km long cross country event that is mass skiing. The athletes are needed to use a different technique from the mid-point. A pit stop in the middle of the race requires them to change their gear and switch to free technique from classic.
Reportedly, Charlotte gained a considerable amount of lead at the 12.5 km stretch and maintained the gap throughout. “I was quite nervous today and the Olympics is something I have focused on for a long, long time, ” Kalla said. “On the finish line I did not want to look back and just focused on keeping pushing.”
SOURCES: BBC, Eurosport

Winter Olympics begin with two Koreas unified under one flag

Pyeongchang (S. Korea), February 09: The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics saw the athletes from two Koreas marching into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag. The two delegations walked out in matching uniforms under one flag, offering a hope of a breakthrough in the tense geo-political drama that has stirred global fears of a nuclear conflict.

According to The Guardian, the flag was jointly carried by South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong and North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum. During the parade of nations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

North Korea’s decision to participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang came in January when the two countries held high-level official talks for the first time in two years. It was considered a symbolic breakthrough amid rising global nuclear tensions.

Along with Kim Yo-jong, US Vice President Mike Pence was present during the opening ceremony, seated just ahead of the North Korean representative. Only earlier this week, United States had announced plans to impose tough sanctions against Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) for staging a military parade featuring an Inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) only days before the opening of Games.

North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games comes after a gap of eight years. The hermit kingdom had skipped the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. This year, they have sent a small delegation of 10 players, along with a unified team with S. Korea for women’s ice hockey.

SOURCE: New York Times, The Guardian