Olympics - Biathlon
Updated: Apr 8, 2018
Our second event that we had tickets for at the 2018 winter Olympics was the Men's 15km race, another one that didn't start until 8:15 in the evening and which we would be taking the last train back into Seoul.
For this event we had booked the train leaving Seoul at 4pm, getting us into Jinbu at 5:30. We figured that we would be able to use this extra time to wander around the Pyongchang Olympic Park.
The Biathlon area was in the Alpensia Olympic Park, but as we were to learn the events were transfer bus rides away from the center, away from the train station, and that you never really get a chance to see the central area of the Olympic Park. We took a transfer bus from the train station, followed signs and the crowd walking down a street only to have get onto another bus after about a half mile walk. That all done we ended up at the biathlon center by about 6:30 with almost two hours before it started. There were long lines for the food, and the spectator warming centers were full of people eating and drinking away the wait time. We went down and were amazed with out seats - right near the finish and with a great overview of the start and the back wall where the athletes did their shooting.
We went into a warming center and found a corner to wait out the time until the event started and I wandered back outside to get in line to grab a quick bite to eat. The line was maybe 20 people deep but it was about 40 minutes later when Tina came out wondering if I had wandered off to see something else. The problem was that almost everyone in line was buying multiple meals, and 8-10 beers and then carrying them back to their groups in the warming tents.
But soon enough it was start time, the crowds all filled into the stands, they lined up, and the gun went off -
It's amazing to watch them all jockey for position coming off the start, then to turn the corner and head up the first hill before they disappeared into the woods and we had to watch the progress on the big screen that was off to the right side of the stadium.
The come in, then head to the back for their shots - the first two laps they lay prone for their shots, the second two the have to stand. We were lucky and had an American from San Jose next to us who actually is a biathlon coach, so we had a lot of our questions answered - like they stand last since that's a harder shot to make and the are more exhausted then so it's more of a challenge. For each shot they miss they need to ski a penalty loop that takes them 10-20 seconds and can basically take them out of contention for a medal.
Here you can see shooting as the first ones are already moving on to their next lap.
Anyone that watch this or payed any attention to Olympic medal updates would have seen this finish, it was a crazy photo finish that had France edging out Germany as he was making an amazing comeback. It was intense to be there live...
Even after that amazing finish, the Gold and Silver were a good 30 second ahead of everyone else, the rest of the athletes came in pushing just as hard, the following photo is of the German expected to win (he missed 2 shots one time and those laps set him out of any running) fighting with another for what was probably an 8th or 9th place finish.
Then it was over and people started filing out of the stands heading to the shuttle buses - it was then just after 9 o'clock. Wow - we will get to watch the medal ceremony, so we wait for all of the rest to finish the course and then the set up the stand for the winners to head out to. I ask Tina where do they raise the flags and we are quickly answered when the parade out to get little stuffed mascot tigers and the announcer states that they will get their medals tomorrow at the official "medals plaza" where apparently most of the medals are done in a nightly event.
From that slight letdown we wandered back to the shuttles - a full ride back this time - and we got back to the station in time to actually take the earlier 10:20 train back to Seoul. We walked up to the platform, actually got on the earlier train to see how packed it was, and seeing masses already forming in the standing areas we got off the train and decided to wait just over an hour for the train that we would actually have seats on. After that long of a day we just weren't ready to spend just over 90 minutes standing just to get back to the hotel about an hour earlier.
Soon enough the last train we here, we were on and sitting, and a short nap and ride later were were back in Seoul. We went down to the subway hoping again to catch one of the last runs of the night to the hotel only to find it already shut down, the taxi lines were longer then they were when we returned from the Skeleton so we simply walked the 20 minutes back and were quickly sound asleep in the hotel bed. We found out later that the first night the subways were running late just because of the final days of their New Year's holiday, so we at least were lucky that one night....