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November 01, 2017
by Doo guesthouse

(PyeongChang G-100) Countdown to PyeongChang Winter Games reaches century mark
SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- The countdown to the first Winter Olympics in South Korea will reach the century mark Wednesday, with the east coast host city of PyeongChang ratcheting up its preparations and homegrown athletes chasing a record number of medals.

PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province, won the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in July 2011. The competition will be held from Feb. 9 to 25 next year under the slogan "Passion. Connected."

PyeongChang 2018 will be the first Olympics in South Korea since the 1988 Seoul Summer Games.

A dozen venues in PyeongChang and its sub-host cities of Gangneung and Jeongseon will stage seven sports across 15 disciplines.

The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) estimates 95 countries will send about 6,500 athletes and officials to take part in its Olympics. They will vie for 102 gold medals, a record for a Winter Games.

PyeongChang won its Winter Games bid on its third try. It lost to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics and then to Sochi for the 2014 competition.

PyeongChang finally beat out Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, for the 2018 Olympics in an International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote in 2011.

The 12 venues are all located within 30 minutes of each other, and it's the compact venue concept that helped PyeongChang win over IOC members.

The PyeongChang Mountain Cluster will be home to Alpensia Biathlon Centre, Cross-Country Skiing Centre, Ski Jumping Centre, Sliding Centre, Bokwang Snow Park and Yongpyong Alpine Centre.

Venues in Gangneung are some 20 kilometers east of the PyeongChang Mountain Cluster, and facilities there are Gangneung Curling Centre, Gangneung Hockey Centre, Gangneung Ice Arena, Gangneung Oval and Kwandong Hockey Centre.

Jeongseon Alpine Centre is the lone venue in Jeongseon, about 20 kilometers south of PyeongChang.

This photo, provided by the organizing committee for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Sept. 21, 2017, shows the gold, silver and bronze medals for the competition. (Yonhap) This photo, provided by the organizing committee for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Sept. 21, 2017, shows the gold, silver and bronze medals for the competition. (Yonhap)

Six of the 12 venues are being constructed for the Olympics, while six existing facilities will be refurbished for the competition. The organizers are spending about 872 billion won (US$772.6 million) on venue construction.

Gangneung Ice Arena, the venue for short track and figure skating, and Gangneung Oval, which will hold speed skating races, have already staged international and domestic competitions.

Other venues have staged several Olympic test events in sports, such as snowboarding, bobsleigh, skeleton, biathlon, ski jumping and curling.

South Korea has set out to collect up to 20 medals at PyeongChang 2018, including eight gold, and crack the top five in the medal race.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, South Korea grabbed three gold, three silver and two bronze medals to rank 13th.

South Korea's best Winter Games performance came at Vancouver in 2010, when it won six gold medals and hauled in a record 14 medals total to finish fifth.

All 26 Winter Olympic titles by South Korea have come from ice events -- short track, speed skating and figure skating. South Korea is once again expected to earn most of its medals from ice, while eyeing stronger performances in sliding events, such as skeleton and bobsleigh.

Representing the PyeongChang Olympics will be a white tiger named Soohorang. A white tiger is a mythological guardian in Korean folklore and is considered sacred.

"Sooho" means protection in Korean, and "rang" comes from the middle letter of "ho-rang-i," the Korean word for tiger.

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