Winter Olympics, Family Style
About the Olympics Winter Games
While the Summer Olympics have a long-standing history dating back to 776 B.C., the Winter Olympics are fairly new in comparison. The first Winter Games took place in Chamonix, France, in 1924, drawing some 10,000 spectators. This year, the international sporting event will host eight new events, bringing the total to a whopping 102 events in 15 sports (more than any other previous Olympic Winter Games), spread out over the course of 19 days. Four new disciplines will be introduced as well: mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling, mixed team alpine skiing and big air snowboarding. Approximately 90 nations are set to participate, and organizers estimate more than a million spectators will visit to take in the events firsthand. The games and celebrations are set to take place in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The International Olympic Committee announced that PyeongChang would be the official host of the 2018 games back in July of 2011. Other considerations were Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France. This will mark South Korea’s second time to host the Olympics (and its first to host the Winter Games). Tucked away in the northeastern province of South Korea, PyeongChang is a mountainous county that sits roughly 110 miles away from the South Korean capital of Seoul and boasts a population of 43,000. It’s slogan, “Happy 700,” is derived from its 700-meter elevation, which the region touts as one of the most ideal places in the world for health and sports. For more than a decade, the region has taken on massive building projects, erecting several new shops and hotels, as well as a world-class ski resort known as Alpensia to prepare for the Winter Games.
About the Emblem
PyeongChang’s official emblem finds its origins in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. The first consonant from each syllable of the word PyeongChang is formed through the shapes within the logo. The first emblem represents harmony between heaven, earth and humanity. The second emblem represents strong athletic performances on snow and ice. The emblem of the PyeongChang Olympic Games encapsulates South Korea’s vision as the host of the Winter Games: “A square where the earth meets the sky, and where athletes excel in snow or on ice—that’s where everyone will celebrate the world’s biggest winter festival in 2018.“
About the Mascot
South Koreans have long regarded the white tiger as their national guardian angel. It’s no surprise then that the 2018 Olympic Winter Games mascot is none other than Soohorang, one of the host nation’s beloved white tigers. The cuddly tiger motif is thought to represent passion, protection and loyalty. (But let’s be honest. He’s also just downright adorable!).
About the Motto
The PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee (POCAG) has chosen two small words to express the vision of this year’s Winter Games. “The new slogan embodies POCOG’s vision to expand winter sports participation to a truly global audience and encourages people to create and share their once-in-a-lifetime experiences at PyeongChang,” said POCOG President Yang-ho Cho at a special event at Seoul’s Olympic Park. “By hosting the 2018 games, we want to make a lasting effect on the youth and inspire the generations to come.”
On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
The Olympics aren’t just about sports. They’re also a natural segue into learning about geography (both physical and political) and cultural diversity. Simple crafts, snacks and games easily up the ante, making this special event educational as well as enjoyable.
Let the Countdown Begin!
To prepare for the opening ceremonies, make a paper chain (with the Olympic ring color pattern in succession, of course!) to use as a family countdown. Each day let a different family member tear off a ring. Add a little extra pizazz by including a fun fact or trivia bit about the Olympics on the inside of each ring (think of it as the fortune found within a fortune cookie).
This Little Light of Mine
The Olympic torch has long been a sign of peace and friendship between participating nations. New torches are designed for each Olympic Games. Why not design your own custom torches as a family? All you will need are:
- Empty toilet paper rolls (or empty paper towel rolls cut in half)
- Gold spray paint
- Hot glue
- Yellow and orange tissue paper (four pieces each, cut into 5-inch squares)
- Orange cupcake wrappers
- Battery-operated tea lights
Directions: Spray paint the toilet paper rolls gold and let dry. Glue the cupcake wrapper onto the top of the toilet paper roll and adhere the tissue paper inside using hot glue. Place the battery operated tea light deep inside the tissue paper and enjoy a luminous fire-colored glow!
Olympic Ring Munchies
It’s hard to pass up food platters that look like the classic Olympic rings insignia (especially when there are so many ways to do it!). Here are some fun and edible ways to come up with the famous five rings.
- Make a pizza: olives, pepperonis, green and yellow peppers and blue cheese.
- Make a fruit platter: blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, green grapes and strawberries.
- Make a veggie platter: roasted blue potatoes, black olives, yellow peppers, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
- Make sugar cookies: Frost with white icing and adorn with blue, yellow, green, black and red M&M’s
And the Winner Is…
This year’s Olympic medals are etched with diagonal lines meant to look like the texture of tree trunks. You can make your own take on this design at home. All you’ll need is ribbon, a mason jar lid, a wooden skewer and gold spray paint. Spray-paint the lid and scratch the signature oblique lines using a wooden skewer. Once dry, use a hole punch to string the ribbon through.
For Further Exploration
Looking for a family movie night flick with an Olympic sports flair? Check these out!
- Cool Runnings
- Ice Castles
- The Mighty Ducks
Children’s Books about the Olympics
- H is For Hockey
- O is For Olympics
- Z is For Zamboni
- Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee
- Tacky and the Winter Games
Olympic Fun Facts
- The longest Olympic Games took place during the summer of 1908 (if you can call it that). They ended up taking place over the course of three seasons, starting April 27 and ending on Oct. 31 (187 days).
- The Winter Olympic Games have yet to take place in the southern hemisphere. Thus far they’ve taken place in more than 11 cities within Asia, Europe and North America.
- Two continents to never host an Olympic Games: Africa and Antarctica.
- Only 11 women competed in the first Winter Olympic Games.
- In the 1960 Summer Olympic Games, Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila won the gold medal while running barefoot.
- The oldest Olympic medalist is Swedish shooting expert Oscar Swahn. He won his final medal at 72.
- The youngest Olympic medalist (as well as competitor) was a Greek gymnast named Dimitrius Loundras. He competed at the 1896 Athens games and won bronze. He was only 10 years old.
- Greece is always the first nation to be represented during the opening ceremonies because it’s the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The rest of the nations file out alphabetically, less the host nation, which always goes last.
- The warmest city ever to host the Winter Olympic Games was Sochi, Russia.
- During the 1980 Winter Games, host city Lake Placid, NY, became the first city to use artificial snow for Olympic competition.
Lauren Greenlee is an Olathe boy mom, a freelance writer and an Olympics fanatic. She will be found watching the opening ceremonies—as well as all the figure skating events—with rapt attention this February.