BRYCE BRIDGEWATER ’19 | COPY EDITOR • 169 Russian athletes will be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympic games over the next two weeks in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However this time, they will not be marching under the tricolor flag representative of the country, but rather of the five Olympic rings of the games. This comes after an investigation finding a systematic doping system of the athletes in order to improve the performances in the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.
On December 5th, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is banned from sending athletes from the 2018 Games. This includes the Russian Paralympic team. However, the IOC will allow Russian athletes, who passed an independent doping test, to compete under the Olympic flag, known as Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR). The IOC completed its investigation last week, and granted 169 athletes to compete in Pyeongchang. 389 athletes applied to compete this year. The 220 athletes that were not picked were designated unfit for the games due to not being able to prove that they did not use performing enhancing drugs in their life. The 169 athletes in the games is the smallest coalition of Russian athletes in over a decade. The report resulted in the expulsion of 31 athletes for life from the Olympic games.
In the 2014 Sochi Games, Russia won 33 medals: 13 gold, 11 silver, and 9 bronze medals, earning the most in the games. After the independent report released, Russia lost 11 of those medals due to the athletes doping: four gold, eight States is a none-factor in this sport, winning one medal in silver, and one bronze medals. This change means that Russia was fifth in the total medal count, behind Norway, Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands. Without these athletes, there are now 11 medals up that do no have previous winners competing in the games this year. The medals came across 6 sports and 11 different events. The Russian men’s bobsled team, which won gold in both the four-man and two-man races, was banned from competition. The United States, Germany, and Switzerland have historically good bobsled teams, so look for those teams to take back the top spot in the events. Russia also had women win in biathlon skiing. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. These women won two silver medals in Sochi in two different events. Look for Germany, Norway, and France, whom historically dominated the sport, to land more medals in the biathlon. The Czech Republic also has recent success in the events. Lowell Bailey from the U.S. is the only skier from the states that has a reasonable chance to medal. No one from the United States has medaled in biathlon skiing. In addition to biathlon skiing, Russia lost seven medals in three different events in men’s cross-country skiing, one gold and six silver medals. The Scandinavian nations dominate this sport every year. Norway, which had 11 medals in the Sochi games, is favored to take the lost Russian medals, but Sweden and Finland are the other favorites in the events. Like biathlon skiing, the United the sport since 1976.
Russia also lost a medal in skeleton, a bronze in women’s single. Skeleton is an ice sliding sport in which a person rides down a track while lying face down. This sport is has a high turnover of winners. No previous winner of the sport has gone on to medal in the next Olympics. Historically, the United States consistently medals; however, since 2006, there were six different countries awarded medals in the sport. Since 2015, Germany won 6 medals in the Skeleton World Cup, and favored to win in Pyeongchang.
The final medal winner from Russia was in 500-meter speed skating. They lost a silver medal in Sochi. Currently, Japan, the Netherlands, and Austria are favored to take that medal. Needless to say, the United States does not have a high chance of winning gold in this event.
Despite this ban from the Sochi Games, the Summer Olympics are to take place in Tokyo in 2020. The IOC has not determined if the ROC will be reinstated to the games in time for the games. The country sent 282 athletes to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to participate in the Olympics, winning 55 medals: 19 gold, 17 silver, and 19 bronze medals. Regardless, for the next two weeks, Pyeongchang will be the center
of the world. Russian athletes still have dominated sports like figure skating, and it will be interesting to see athlete’s reaction walking and celebrating under the Olympic rings instead of Russian colors. All eyes are on the clean Russian athletes and how they can compete at the games.