FORGET THE SWISS ALPS this year. The “Korean Alps,” as the Taebaek Mountains near Pyeongchang, South Korea, are known, are set to steal the winter sports spotlight as the area hosts the Olympic Winter Games from Feb. 9 to 25, 2018. Athletes and spectators from around the world will stream into Pyeongchang and the surrounding region in northeastern Gangwon province for the snow, ice and alpine events. Here’s a look at the location of the Games, its venues and some of the area’s top attractions.
The annual Daegwallyeong Snow Festival in Pyeongchang county’s Daegwallyeong township (Feb. 7 to 18, 2018) is one of the cultural events taking place during the Games. The quirky festival celebrates the region’s bountiful snow and ice, kicking off with a fireworks display followed by a snow art contest, trout ice-fishing and, most famously, an international half-naked marathon.
Spectators can travel efficiently from Incheon International Airport outside of Seoul, South Korea’s capital, to Olympic venues in Pyeongchang and Gangneung on a new highspeed rail line. The line will cut transportation time between the airport and Pyeongchang from 3½ hours to just over 1½ hours.
The more than 1,000-year-old Woljeongsa Temple in Odaesan National Park is one of many Buddhist temples across the country offering accommodations during the Games. Visitors can experience the life of a monk and learn about the country’s Buddhist heritage.
The Pyeongchang Mountain Cluster on the snowy, high-elevation slopes of the Taebaek Mountains, which run along the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, is home to the Olympic Stadium (site of the opening and closing ceremonies) and seven other venues, including the Us$1.5-billion Alpensia Resort complex, where ski jumping, biathlon and cross-country ski events will be held. Alpine events will take place in the nearby city of Jeongseon at the new Jeongseon Alpine Centre, while snowboarding and freestyle skiing events will happen to the north of the cluster at Bokwang Snow Park.
Five venues hosting the Games’ ice events, including hockey (in both the newly built Gangneung and Kwandong hockey centres), curling and skating, are in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster on the Sea of Japan in the largest city in Gangwon province. The cluster will also host large-scale cultural performances.
GANGNEUNG Jeongseon Alpine Centre Olympic Sliding Centre Yongpyong Alpine Centre Wolgeongsa Temple Alpensia Biathlon Centre Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre Alpensia Cross-country Centre Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Daegwallyeong Snow Festival Bokwang Snow...