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Winter Olympics

Our first Olympic event was the Women Skeleton, located at the Olympic Sliding Center in Pyeongchang. We weren't quite sure about timing to get there, and you may recall Tina's earlier issues with trying to get the train tickets figured out - we knew that although this was a medal event there was no way that we would be able to see the presentation since the event ended after the last train headed back to Seoul for the evening.

We had earlier adjusted out outgoing train ticket from 6 o'clock to the earlier 5 o'clock train figuring that we would be able to wander around the Olympic village and area before heading up to the track. We were lucky that we made the change, when we got off the train we then had to take a 20 minute shuttle to the sliding center, then it's a 15 minute walk up to security where you go through the metal detector and scanner and get your ticket scanned. Great, but not there yet, then it's about a 10 minute walk uphill to the base of the track. We then decided not to go to the big curve everyone sees on television but to instead head the other direction up to the top to see if we can watch the athletes at the start. A five minute walk that seems almost upright and we are bunched in a crowd, trying to figure out what's happening we find out that we've walked up to the assigned grandstand seating at the finish - yes, the finish is above the large base curve. Makes sense for slowing the people down at the end, but something that we never would have realized, so we have to walk halfway back down and then there's a path to the side heading up to the start. That's another 10-15 minutes of walking and we get to the top of the hill just as they are sending the first course trail run down. It was then 10 minutes to the start of the event, we were lucky that we took the earlier train.

From there we realized it was near impossible with the amount of people for us to really get a good view of the athletes starting so we moved down to curve six, near the top but in a strange dead zone between the top and some of the bigger curves where luckily there weren't a lot of spectators and where we could get some great unobstructed views.

We stood there for about 15 racers, it's amazing to watch them zoom by as it's unbelievably fast - something that you can't comprehend watching it, but I'd state that this is easier to watch on TV then live, since we only saw a 1 second snapshot of each racer as they passed.

They keep them moving, almost every minute you'd hear "racer in the course" and you would ready yourself since you knew we were only 15 seconds down the track.

After a while we headed down to the large curve, got a couple of photos and watched the final few runs of the first heat (actually 3rd, but our tickets were only for heats 3 and 4). Then we walked up towards the ending and tried to stake out a spot along the fence right after the final curve at the straight section right before the finish line.

The thought being that we could get about 45 minutes of the final heat in before we had to leave - the 4th heat started at 9:15, we figured we were closer to the base of the mountain so we could leave at 10, walk the 15 minutes to the shuttles, take the 20 minutes shuttle back and be ready to catch the 11:30 train with at least 45 minutes to spare. We had already heard stories about shuttle bus lines stretching for 30 minutes, and we wanted to make sure we buffered that in - we did not want to have to sleep overnight in the Jinbu station.

To make this more eventful, our choice of standing near the finish was interesting as we got to see the track cleaning work that goes on between heats, and we were able to watch them scramble around as they were obviously having water problems down at the area where we were. Thus ensues a delay, "First trail run in 5 minutes, racer in 10" first broadcast at 9:05 was followed by "Trial run in 10 minutes" at 9:10, and we stand and wait in the cold - this is when the wind finally decides to pick up and add to the realization that we are just standing outside doing nothing... So we wait and keep checking our watches, the trial runs finally start at about 20 to, and the final races start a half an hour late. We watch the first three racers come down and then we decide we have to head back.

Heading down is easier then climbing up, but we are in a crowd of people that must have all head about the timing issues - strangely there are still people heading up, had they not been delayed there might have been 3-5 runs left. Some slight confusion as to which bus to head to - there are guides everywhere, not a lot of signage, and the guides English is minimal - but we get onto the shuttle without any wait and were at the train station with 45 minutes of time. The next shuttle arrived 15 minutes later as the waiting room quickly filled up, the train back was full, with approximately 30-40 people crammed into the standing room only section between cars and more crowding the aisles. Were glad we had seat, as standing for an hour and a half on a train, after midnight, after spending 3+ hours standing outside might have been too much.

We got back into Seoul at 01:07, where we had been told the the subway system stops at 1am. We walked out with the masses only to see huge lines of people waiting for taxis - okay, we're only about a 20 minute walk back to the hotel, that might be about the same as the wait to take a taxi. We walked down through the subway system and asked about the line that went to our hotel - "Maybe 30 minutes more" we were told, so we quickly headed in and managed to catch one the last subway runs of the night back towards our hotel.

Amazing time, great to see, it would have been better had we been able to see the whole event, but what we did see really put into perspective just how crazy this skeleton event really is...

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