By LAURA TAYLOR
On Feb. 9, 92 nations will be represented by their best athletes in Pyeongchang County, South Korea to collectively compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. For University of Mary Washington students, this means joining in the world wide spectating of their favorite winter sport events.
Some students at UMW follow various sports because of a specific connection to the sport. For sophomore Jennifer Hill, ice hockey is the sport her brother used to play and which led to her becoming a big fan of the Washington Capitals.
“Watching the Olympics keeps me on the edge of my seat,” said Hill.
“There is a whole new level of energy and adrenaline when watching the best athletes in the world compete on one stage,” said Hill.
When it comes to the events that students at UMW follow, Hill enjoys following ice hockey closely especially during the qualifying rounds.
“My older brother played ice hockey when he was younger, so I grew up going to his hockey games and tourneys,” said Hill. “I especially love watching ice hockey during the Winter Olympics because of amazing moments like TJ Oshie’s shootout win against Russia. I was watching that game live and it truly was a nail biter.”
For sophomore Sylvan Brier, the figure skating events are a way to bond with her mom.
“I follow figure skating the most because it’s something my mom and I love to watch together,” said Brier. “We both love looking at the beautiful costumes and how they move when the skaters are performing.”
Senior Emily Keehan enjoys following Alpine Skiing because of family ties. “My mom used to ski when she was younger and still has a passion for it, so I enjoy watching others do what she used to do,” said Keehan.
For the first time this winter Olympics, Nigeria will be competing in the women’s bobsledding team which caught Keehan’s eye.
“This particular Winter Olympics I will also be paying close attention to Women’s Bobsledding, specifically the Nigerian team,” said Keehan. “They are the first African bobsled team in history to make it to the Winter Olympic games, and that is incredibly special.”
As for what country to follow, not all UMW students strictly follow the United States. Depending on family heritage and connections to the location the games are held, some students found favor in other countries as well.
Hill and senior Janelle Behm will both be rooting for homeland USA.
“I follow the USA,” said Behm. “Have to root for the home country.”
Hill’s heart lies with the Washington Capitals based in Washington DC therefore leading her to root for USA as well. However, some students also have connections outside of the United States like Brier and Keehan.
“I have a cousin adopted from South Korea where the Winter Olympics is being held so it’s cool to think that my cousin’s birth parents could appear in the audience,” said Brier.
“My mom grew up in Germany and I lived in Scotland for 10 months and love it over there so I always make sure to keep track of them,” said Keehan. “Also, North Korea will be competing for the first time in these Winter Olympics, and obviously that is a really big deal, so I will be following their journey as well.”
For the first time this year, North Korea will be sending athletes to compete in the winter games leaving students at UMW watching the Winter Olympics anticipating one of the biggest sporting events of the year.