Thursday, January 25, 2018

Princeton In South Korea

TigerBlog learned something fairly fascinating yesterday.

As you might have heard, the Winter Olympic Games begin shortly. To be exact, the Games begin two weeks from tomorrow, in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This should not be confused with Pyongyang, North Korea.

TB was looking up some Winter Olympics history, and he found out that Alpine skiing didn't become an event until the fourth Winter Games. How is that possible? TB would have assumed the Winter Olympics would have started with Alpine skiing.

That wasn't the fascinating part.

The first Winter Olympic Games were held in 1924, in Chamonix, France. What TB didn't know until yesterday was that figure skating actually started out before that, dating back to the Summer Games of 1908, in London.

Figure skating started out in the Summer Games? Who knew?

Most people prefer the Summer Games to the Winter ones. TB likes them both.

He also thinks that whoever came up with the idea to stagger them was a genius. Up until 1992, the Winter and Summer Games were in the same year.

His favorite event in the Winter Games is the downhill, followed by ski jumping. He likes the hockey, though he recognizes that repeating what happened in 1980 is an impossibility.

He's not as into most of the events that were borrowed from the X Games, though he does like snowboard cross. Maybe it's because it sounds like lacrosse.

Figure skating isn't his favorite. He's not a huge fan of sports that are judged, as opposed to just having non-subjective points determine the winner. If he has to watch figure skating, he likes the ice dancing the best. 

Either way, TB will watch a lot of the coming Games in South Korea.

The best part of the Summer Games is rooting for the Princetonians who are competing. There are usually more than 10 of them. They are in the sports that aren't shoved down your throat by TV. They're easy to root for, and several of them come back with medals.

Now, in South Korea, Princeton will be represented in the Winter Games. Caroline Park, a 2011 grad, will be a member of the unified Korean women's hockey team.

To be honest, TigerBlog doesn't completely understand the whole unified team process. Instead of a roster of 22, there will be 12 North Korean players added, of whom only three can dress each game.

TB also doesn't understand the political significance of having a unified team, but, as always, he'll stay away from politics.

Park will become the 113th Princetonian to compete in the Olympic Games. Of that group, she'll be the 10th to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Princeton's Winter Games participation dates to two hockey medalists from Lake Placid - that would silver medalists from the 1932 Games in Lake Placid. For the record, their names were Gerald Hallock III and Robert C. Livingston.

The combined Korean team is in the same group with Sweden, Switzerland and Japan and is a huge underdog to advance to the medal round. The other group has the U.S., Canada, OAR and Finland.

It took TigerBlog awhile to figure out what OAR meant. Turns out it means "Olympic Athletes from Russia," as opposed to just "Russia," whose doping efforts in 2014 prompted this ban.

Ilya Kovalchuk is the OAR captain. TB saw this quote in a story: “Everyone knows where we’re from. It doesn’t matter. The flag is in our heart.”

Seems like quite the harsh penalty.

As for Park, she will be part of the first Korean Olympic women's hockey team. Park and the Koreans will begin play on Saturday, Feb. 10, against Switzerland.

While she played for Princeton, Park helped the Tigers to four straight ECAC quarterfinal appearances. She played in 102 career games, and she was twice named to the ECAC All-Academic team.

She also is currently in medical school. She grew up near Toronto, with a father who attended the University of Toronto and mother who went to college in South Korea.

She also speaks English, French and Korean. And as a kid she acted, in TV shows and commercials.

To that list, you can add "Olympian."

Once again, it's another one of those Princeton people who leaves you awed.

And another one who makes it so easy to root for her. 

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