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Korea’s miracle in winter sports

Posted February. 03, 2014 08:16,   


The Winter Olympics, which was first held in Chamonix, France in 1924, has been mostly hosted in Europe and North America. The only exceptions were two events in Japan. All host countries are rich and located in the northern hemisphere. Russia has joined the club with a record investment of 50 billion dollars for the Sochi Winter Olympics starting on February 7.

Given the nature of winter sports, countries in warm regions do not dare to participate in the Winter Olympics. It is almost impossible to foster and train winter sports athletes in those countries. Although indoor skating facilities helped the spread of winter sports, they still require money. It costs up to 120 billion won (111.9 million US dollars) to build Bobsleigh tracks for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. It is too much for underdeveloped countries. A country with the largest number of gold medals in Winter Olympics is Norway, followed by the U.S., Germany, and Austria. These countries have high per capital incomes. This is why some sarcastically call the sporting event the “Olympics for the rich.”

The strong results of Korea, which has weaker economic power than developed countries, is an interesting topic of study for other countries. Korea has won a total of 45 medals including 23 gold medals in the Winter Olympics, ahead of China’s 44 and Japan’s 37. Again, Korea has emerged as one of the most powerful countries in non-western regions in areas such as short track speed skating for the upcoming sporting event. What is the secret?

Short track speed skating, in which Korea raked in 37 medals, has been an event representing Korea. Korea focused on developing techniques based on the fact that Koreans are more agile and nimble than westerners. Figure skating star Kim Yu-na was made on the 17-year long passion of her mother, a “tiger mom”, not the national training system. A niche strategy and a “mother’s power” led to the miracle of Korea’s skating. Maybe, this is in line with how the country has economically developed so far. Korea, however, lags behind other countries in typical winter sports like ski. This might be Korea’s limit. Korea sends the largest number of athletes for the Sochi Olympics in its history. It remains to be seen how much it can achieve in events where it is strong as well as weak.