It’s Cold In Pyeongchang
For the first time in 24 years, the Winter Olympics is headed for a location where it’s actually winter. Hard as it is to believe, those who have already gathered in Pyeongchang in the single-digit temperatures with mere days to go until the Winter Olympics officially get underway are more concerned about the extreme weather conditions than about North Korea, South Korea’s very hostile neighbour mere miles to the North.
A wind that bites through everything blows all day long, prompting everyone to pad up beyond recognition lest they fall prey to frostbite. Athletes are especially concerned about the outdoor events as these mean being exposed to all that the South Korean winter has to offer. The previous time that the Winter Olympics was played in a natural wintery habitat was back in 1994 in Norway. Since then it has been quite at home in warmer countries.
Australia In The Running For Success
This year, 51 athletes from Australia will be competing in Pyeongchang. Australian athletes will be involved in 11 disciplines, with freestyle skiing and snowboarding being at the top of the list. Athletes headed for South Korea have, for the most part this year, headed for the Winter Olympics under the highly controversial Winning Edge strategy funding scheme.
The Winning Edge strategy works on the premise that it funds only those sports and athletes expected to deliver winning results, i.e. it prioritises funding for those sports, athletes and events expected to win medals at major events.
According to Winning Edge strategy statistics, the Aussie team competing in Pyeongchang this year is expected to finish within the top 15 of all countries. This is by no means a far cry, when one considers that in 2010, Australian athletes secured two gold medals and a 13th place overall finish at the Vancouver Games.
Whilst the success of the athletes will most probably live on at this year’s Winter Olympics, the Winning Edge strategy concept will not. The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) recently announced that it will no longer be making use of the Winning Edge strategy funding model going forward, as its insulting to athletes competing professionally in elite sports. Peter Conde, director at AIS, shed some light on the decision by saying that at national level, the focus should be more on the contributions that athletes make to the community and national pride than exclusively on their medal-winning capabilities.
The Winter Olympics gets underway on February 9th.
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