I’m Adam Ziobrowski, Staff Writer
As athletes from more than 90 nations prepare for the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Olympic fans back at Utica College’s are waiting to see their favorite athletes compete. This year’s Winter Games open Friday, Feb. 9.
As the Games approach, diehard fans around UC’s campus have expressed their excitement for the event. At the same time, there is also awareness of the political issues surrounding the Olympics.
Amidst ongoing tensions between North Korea and the United States, South Korea’s Olympic team made waves last month when after reaching a diplomatic agreement with the North for athletes from both nations to compete together under the Korean Unification Flag.
Professor of public relations and journalism at Utica College, Paul MacArthur, who has studied the Olympics and their coverage on television, does not see the Koreas’ joint team as an issue.
“We won’t see much of anything,” MacArthur said. “We’ll see some boasting but no major military action during or after the games. It’ll be more saber rattling (showing force) than anything else.”
Beyond global tensions, MacArthur pointed to storylines directly related to the Games that he sees as noteworthy. Shaun White looking to win gold coming off a perfect 100 score in the halfpipe, Kelly Clark competing in her fifth Olympics and Lindsey Vonn competing in an Olympics since suffering a devastating injury to her knee in 2013.
Other fans of the Winter Olympics, like Sophomore Chris Spath, are ecstatic to watch their favorite sport.
“I love watching snowboarding during the Olympics,” Spath said. “It’s more so because I can connect to it because I love the sport and will snowboard here and there.”
The connection that Spath mentioned seems to be a trend amongst fans. Other fans of the Olympics, such as sophomore Alexei Sorrell, enjoy watching sports they have participated in.
“I love the Winter Olympics, I connect with it because I love to snowboard,” Sorrell said. “I’ll watch whatever is on, but I pay more attention to snowboarding. I think that is the case because when I watch it I feel it stimulating my senses.”
MacArthur also noted that the fans of the Winter Olympics are so drawn to it because people are naturally interested in the sports they do or have done.
“For myself, I love the Winter Olympics because I ski, so I’m more drawn to the sport while it’s on during the Olympics,” MacArthur said. “I also snowboard and am very interested in ski and snowboarding history.”
As fans wait for the Winter Games to start, others prefer the Summer Olympics or just do not watch the Olympics in general.
“If you don’t normally watch the Olympics I suggest viewing it as more an art,” MacArthur said. “Let yourself get lost in a sport like figure skating, the artistic element can transport you somewhere else if you let it.”
While opinions on favorite winter sports vary, fans of the UC’s Olympic fans will be cheering for Team USA.
“I don’t follow closely, but I’ll still be hoping the U.S.A finishes with the most medals,” said sophomore Michael Colegrove. “It’s more so because I have patriotic pride, so I’ll always be rooting for my country.”
While fans will be cheering for Team USA, according to MacArthur, the U.S. may not be the team to beat.
“It’s hard to say off the top of my head,” MacArthur said. “I think the U.S.A. will fare well, they’ll finish in the top four, maybe the top three, in the overall medal count. However, I think Norway has a good chance at finishing with the most. They have a great history and it isn’t wise to bet against them.”