POW UK report on the 2018 Winter Olympics

Protect Our Winters UK team member Tea Djumisic shares her insights from the 2018 PyeongChang experience - including some facts around how sustainably produced the Games really were.

It's his third run. He didn't land his first one but he still has a chance of winning. Here, at the bottom of the Big Air jump, you can feel all his fans tense up. He sets off and lands his front-side 1440 triple with mute and tail-grab. The Brits in the crowd erupt in cheers. The results come in. Billy Morgan is third in the Snowboard Big Air in Alpensia. But wait, there’s still four competitors to go until the winners are crowned. They go down one by one, but none of them land their tricks. At that moment, the whole BBC crew, including commentator and Olympic medalist, Jenny Jones, are all in the crowd jumping and celebrating with the rest of Team GB who've come to cheer Billy on. Billy Morgan is officially a bronze medalist at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games!

Team GB's done it. They beat their Winter Olympics medal record and won their first Men's Snowboarding event medal. What a moment to be a part of!

Just a few days before, Izzy Atkins also made history in PyeongChang, taking the bronze in slopestyle, and becoming the first British athlete to win a medal on skis.

The Paralympics teams had big shoes to fill in following the Olympic results, and with a tally of 7 medals, they did not disappoint either! All these medals came from two athletes and their guides in the Women’s Alpine Skiing disciplines for athletes with vision impairment. These girls showed us that even with limited vision, they can race down steep and icy slopes. They should be an inspiration to all of us. They showed us what results you can achieve thanks to determination, hard work and a lot of trust. Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Jennifer Kehoe ended up with a total of 4 medals, including a gold one for the Women’s Slalom; while our ambassador, Millie Knight, and her guide Brett Wild, brought home 3 medals.

Now, I’ve been asked a few times: were these athletic performances worth the potential environmental impact on the PyeongChang area? Or did these Olympics actually leave a sustainable legacy for the city and the region?

PyeongChang 2018 was one of the windiest Winter Olympics we’ve seen in recent years. Even if the weather conditions were not to the advantage of the athletes, the organizers decided to use this negative factor to their benefit. As an effort to provide green Games, wind power plants were built. These plants provided 104% of consolidated energy for the Games - so even more energy than was originally needed to power the Olympics.

Additionally, we, as spectators, were transported from the Olympic Park to the bullet train in electric buses - and we weren’t the only ones. Part of the volunteers had access to electric and hydrogen-powered cars to move around between venues. The recharging stations, built for the occasion, have been left around the city in the hopes of encouraging more citizens to switch to a clean energy vehicle in the future.

And last but not least, let’s take a look at the heart of the action: the venues for the events. We all heard about the controversial decision of the organizers to cut down more than 50,000 trees to create the Downhill slope. However, there’s also been some positive actions leading up to the Games, including transforming a landfill into the Gangneung Olympic Park, where we eagerly watched the Short Track Speed Skating and the Curling matches.

In addition, 6 of the venues were run off solar and geothermal energy during these Olympics, and they will continue to be used after the Games. Finally, the Olympic Stadium, which held all 4 opening and closing ceremonies, will soon be destroyed. Unlike previous Games, where venues have just been left abandoned, the government decided they would rather destroy the venue than leave it without a purpose or use.

It hasn’t been the perfect green Games quite yet, but there’s definitely been more efforts on the organizers’ part to limit the impact of the event and the fans on the region’s ecosystem. We can't wait to see what the teams have in store for us in Beijing in 2022.

Green or not, we’re still very proud of all the performances of the Team GB athletes. Thank you for the show you put on. From the whole team at POW U.K., congrats again to our ambassadors Billy and Millie on your medals!

  

Words and photos by Tea Djumisic

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