Preparations are entering their final stages in PyeongChang, South Korea, which will play host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games from Feb. 9-25 next year and the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games from March 9-18. With just a year to go until it takes center stage, here’s a look at 18 things to know about the next Olympic and Paralympic host city.
1. Since the early 2000s, PyeongChang has been attempting to host the Winter Games. It readied itself to be a bid city for the 2010 Games and won the first round of voting at the 115th International Olympic Committee Session in 2003 before losing out to Vancouver in the final round of voting. Four years later at the 119th IOC Session, it was a similar story, as PyeongChang won the first round of voting before losing out to Sochi. Finally, at the 123rd IOC Session, PyeongChang won the rights to host the Games.
2. PyeongChang added the capital letter “C” to the middle of its name in order to avoid confusion with Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
3. Located about 80 kilometers southeast of Seoul, the mountain resort region of PyeongChang has about 40,000 permanent residents.
4. PyeongChang was the site of the first organized skiing competition in Korea in 1949. The country’s first official ski resort was built there in 1975.
5. The average high temperature in the PyeongChang region in the month of February is 31.3 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low is 13.1 degrees Fahrenheit. February is typically the driest month of the year in the region.
6. Eighty-four percent of the PyeongChang region is covered with mountains. It’s located in one of the most rugged mountainous regions of the country, which is often referred to as “Korea’s Alps.”
7. PyeongChang’s slogan is “Happy700,” taken from the city’s average elevation of 700 meters above sea level, which is believed to make people live in the best condition.
8. As most Koreans speak their native language everywhere, holding to their cultural heritage, it will be useful for visitors to bring along a pocket dictionary during the Games.
9. The city plans to host the most compact and athlete-friendly Games to date, with most venues being within 30 minutes of each other.
10. Competition at the PyeongChang 2018 Games will be broken up into two groups of venues — the PyeongChang mountain cluster and the Gangneung coastal cluster. The mountain cluster will host all snow and sliding sports, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, while the coastal cluster will host all ice sports.
11. Alpensia in the mountain cluster is a $1.5 million complex, which was built on old potato fields and envisioned to be the new Asian hub of winter sports. It will host the main Olympic and Paralympic Village in the mountains, as well as ski jumping, bobsled, luge, skeleton and cross-country skiing competitions.
12. The ski jump tower in Alpensia was featured in the 2009 Korean movie “Take Off,” as well as the variety show “Infinity Challenge.”
13. The region is home to a number of Buddhist temples, including the famous Woljeongsa, which was founded almost 1,400 years ago. Visitors can learn Buddhist manners, perform tea ceremonies and make 108-bead malas there.
14. Sunrises are very important in the traditional Korean culture, and Gangneung, which will host the coastal cluster of venues, is home to the Jeongdongjin and Gyeongpo beaches, which are some of the most popular places to enjoy an excellent sunrise on the country’s east coast.
15. One of PyeongChang’s most famous annual traditions is the Trout Festival, which takes place every winter and includes ice and lure fishing, snow programs, ice programs and folk games. Any trout caught from ice or lure fishing can be prepared right away at a nearby restaurant. Trout farming is a long-standing tradition in the region due to its cold, clear waters.
16. PyeongChang is known for its food, with its most famous specialties being Memil Makguksu (a noodle dish), Hwangtae Gui (grilled Pollock) and Jjambbong (Asian spicy noodle soup). Fish are considered a national delicacy, and with Korean food being quite spicy, visitors usually can be found drinking several cups of water with their meals.
17. Because there is no large supermarket in PyeongChang, everyone shops in traditional markets or convenience stores for their food.
18. Makgeolli, a type of rice wine, is one of Korea’s traditional alcohols, and because corn is one of PyeongChang’s specialties, a corn makgeolli exists within the region.
Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.