Yarnold's pride as Olympics open in dazzling style in PyeongChang

Yarnold's pride as Olympics open in dazzling style in PyeongChang

09 February 2018 / 16:13
PyeongChang's Olympics opened in a blaze of colour, a flurry of fireworks and conditions that were positively tropical in comparison to recent days.
This region of South Korea is well known for its bitter winters and pounding winds that blow in from the Manchurian plains and Siberia.

But this was a ceremony to warm the heart of even the most cynical, South and North Korean athletes marched together, united in sporting goals.

Two members of their mixed women’s hockey team, Chung Su-hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea, carried the torch on its penultimate leg.

And Yuna Kim - the 2010 Olympic champion figure skater known in these parts as ‘Queen Yuna’ - was the perfect choice to light the flame, a task performed with straight sixes.

OpeningceremonyfireworksPyeongChang’s first night showpiece started with drums and continued with a dazzling light display.

There was colour and culture in equal measure, a journey through the region’s rugged mountains in the company of official mascot Soohorang, a white tiger. 

North and South Korea marched under the same flag in the opener, the first time the two countries have done so at any Olympics in 12 years. They also fielded a joint women’s hockey team — a first for them at the Games.

But before then the crowd enjoyed the sight of the Bermuda team in their signature shorts and then there was cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua.

In Rio - where he competed in taekwondo - he walked into the stadium shirtless and covered in oil, becoming an internet sensation.

Now a Winter Olympian too, he only learned to ski last year, he was barechested again, to the whooping delight of the crowd.

TonganflagbearerPC

Lizzy Yarnold marched at the head of a 60-plus strong Team GB delegation, following the advice of four-time Olympic champion and former flag bearer Sir Matthew Pinsent to carry the flag one-handed.

And she admitted it was an emotional experience.

“Before I walked out, I was able to see the stadium and there were tears,” she said. “It means so much to represent the whole team. I loved it, it was the most special moment.”

Freestyle skier Emily Sarsfield, competing at her first Games, also loved the chance to parade in front of the eyes of the world.

“It’s awesome being part of this team, I’m just like a fan,” she said. “Being out there with everyone means a lot.”
Team GB has brought their biggest-ever team to South Korea, 59 athletes across 11 sports, with world champion and medallists part of the squad.

But margins between success and failure can be even more cruel at the Winter Games.

The difference between feeling a champ and looking a chump can be a fraction of a degree under rotation on a double mctwist or the slightest of stutters on a triple axel. 

But all that is to come, the show is finally on and it's all downhill from here.

From James Toney, Sportsbeat, at the Olympic Stadium

Sportsbeat 2018