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Korea's Own "Mini Winter Olympics"
By Alan Timblick
President of The Seoul Times
Alan and Mija Timblick, regular participants.

While our attention has for days been focused on the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia and the unfortunate judging of the superb performance of figure skatingQueen Kim Yuna, a more modest affair took place from 21st to 23rd February much closer to home at The Yong Pyong Resort in Gangwon Province.

Yong Pyong, one of the oldest and most extensive ski domains in Korea, will be host to many of the events during the 2018 Winter Olympics, pyeong Chang and not only has well developed facilities but also has actually been rehearsing in its own way for the past three decades!

In fact since 1983 literally hundreds of foreign residents of Korea have been gathering in early February each year to take part in winter sporting competitions, enjoy the pristine snowy conditions and company of family and friends at the annual International Ski Festival.

The events include grand slalom, snowboarding and sometimes cross-country skiing and separate age group races for male and female contestants. This year the youngest to complete the slalom course was only 5 yrs old and the most senior well into the 70's.

In the spirit of fun and sportsmanship, expat lovers of winter sports have a chance to emulate professional athletes, with award ceremonies at which gold, silver and bronze medals are handed to successful competitors during an après-ski party attended by hundreds, all ready to cheer their compatriots as the names and nationalities of the winners are announced. With the presence of ambassadors from around the world, the real Olympic spirit is almost tangible!

This year the most prominent winning countries were France, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and Japan.

The organising committee, dedicated amateurs led by the Ambassador of Belgium, Francois Bontemps, and the volunteer US ski patrol squad, ensure a smooth, safe and efficient program and generous commercial sponsorships ensure great entertainment and festivity.

With rehearsals like this no doubt pyeongChang 2018 will surely be a great success!

Alan Timblick OBE
President, The Seoul Times
Korea's only on-line English language Daily

Alan Timblick serves as President of The Seoul Times. He grew up in England, graduated from Oxford University, and has lived in Seoul for over three decades. A former banker, he also worked for the Korean gpvernment as head of Invest Korea and for Seoul City as head of the Seoul Global Center.






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