Hurricanes, cheerleaders & Hollywood lookalikes: PyeongChang weekly roundup
HERO OF THE WEEK
Hero of the week undoubtedly has to go to plucky Austrian snowboarder Markus Schairer, who broke his neck after a horror tumble in the men's cross quarter-finals on Thursday. The 30-year-old was in fourth place in his heat when he tumbled and landed heavily on his head, the impact forcing his goggles to fly off.
my dream did not come true. i don not bring home gold, silver or bronce. instead i'm wearing my own personal medall now. honestly, i had more than one guardian-angle. i broke my neck (5th cervial spine) at one of the worst crashes in my entire live. luckily there are no neurological deficits, so i will be able to walk soon. when such things happen, you really start knowing whats important! thanks for the massive support from my family, friends, the @olympic_team_austria and all the wishes from all around the world!! big applause for my opponents but friends on the podium @pierrevaultier @jarrydhughes @reginoherma3 #badass #olympics #pyongchang2018 #crash #pain #comminghome #snowboardcross #sbx
Despite the awful injury, Schairer astonishingly got up to unflinchingly finish the race. Scans later showed that Schairer had broken the fifth cervical vertebra in his neck, and the snowboarder has now been taken back to Austria for further specialist treatment.
ROMANCE OF THE WEEK
In a week that has included Valentine’s Day, two Russian athletes tied the knot in the face of International Olympic Committee (IOC) bans. Semen Denshchikov wed his sweetheart before jetting off to the PyeongChang Games to compete as an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).
However, while Denshchikov was one of 169 Russians cleared by the IOC to compete at PyeongChang, his new bride, skeleton team member Olga Potylitsina, was denied an invite to the Games from the organization.
Who says romance is dead? We say love conquers all.
WIND OF THE WEEK
A special mention must go to the winds that wreaked havoc at PyeongChang, causing several events to be called off and many athletes to accuse international federations of not giving enough thought to safety issues.
Gusts of up to 40mph forced an evacuation at the Olympic Park after one employee was injured due to treacherous conditions.
The women’s 15km individual biathlon was one to suffer the effects of the hurricane winds, but luckily there were no serious injuries to report. Well, none as bad as Schairer’s broken neck, surely.
LOOKALIKE OF THE WEEK
Eye-pleasing Russian curler Anastasia Bryzgalova was one athlete to hit the headlines when Olympic observers noted she bears a resemblance to Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.
Bryzgalova captured attention by winning curling bronze in the mixed doubles, prompting comments to flood in on social media comparing the 25-year-old to Oscar-winner Jolie.
The St. Petersburg native had a more level-headed approach to her newfound doppelganger tag. “It won’t help me win medals,” she answered conservatively.
Admirers of bronze-winner Bryzgalova will be heartbroken to note that her PyeongChang podium finish was achieved with her curling partner and husband Alexander Krushelnitsky.
STAR OF THE WEEK
Last but by no means least, the North Korean cheerleaders must get a mention for their efforts this week.
Although not competing for honors at PyeongChang, the 229-strong cheerleading team would probably be handed the gold medal for enthusiasm. Their energetic and mesmerizing synchronized performance wowed fans around the world.
Dressed in matching red tracksuits, the group sings and cheers in unison, competing with the athletes for the audience’s attention, with moves from the brilliant to the bizarre, such as holding a mask depicting a man’s face as they sing North Korean pop song ‘Whistle.’
The North Korean cheer squad were reportedly selected from the most elite families in the country, and most of the cheerleaders are performing arts students. The most famous alumnus of the squad is the first lady of North Korea, Ri Sol-ju.
Even more impressive was their fervent support for the unified Korea women’s hockey team, despite them being annihilated 8-0 by the Swiss.
For that, if nothing else, they deserve our stars of the week award.