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 Winter Olympics 2018 set off in South Korea. VIDEO+PHOTOS

The Ukrainian Olympic team is getting ready to go up against 93 other countries on the snowy slopes of Pyeongchang County in South Korea as the 2018 Winter Olympic Games open on Feb. 9.

As reported by Censor.NET citing Kyiv Post, 33 Ukrainian athletes have qualified for the games this year. They will compete in nine out of the 15 featured sports.

This is the sixth time Ukraine has participated in the Winter Olympics since it first began in 1994 to attend top international sporting events as an independent country.

Although Ukraine hasn’t had much luck at the Winter Games in the past, having won only seven medals, the country is pinning hopes on what is traditionally its strongest event – the biathlon.

The biathlon coach of the national team of Ukraine Oleksii Kravchenko told the Kyiv Post that "the mood is combative."

"Everyone is focused on work and getting ready for the start," he said.

The competition will be held in Pyeongchang, a county in the north of South Korea, on Feb. 9-25.

While it was the host of the Summer Games in 1988, the country has never held a Winter Olympics before.

The program includes alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating.

Four new disciplines in existing sports have been added, including big air snowboarding, mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling, and mixed team alpine skiing.

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Ukraine’s 33 athletes will compete in nine sports: biathlon, figure skating, luge, freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, skeleton and Nordic combined.

The one-third of the Ukrainian team will participate in the country’s traditionally strong suit, biathlon.

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Five out of the country’s seven Winter Olympics medals have been won by biathlon athletes. All four winners of the women’s biathlon relay (team competition) at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, will represent Ukraine again. Olena Pidgrushna, Iulia Djyma and sisters Valentyna and Vita Semerenko are among the top contenders in both the individual and team events.

Ukrainian men’s biathlon team will be looking to improve its results. Three of its athletes, Dmytro Pidruchnyi, Artem Pryma and Segii Semenov, finished ninth in the relay race at the previous Winter Olympics.

Kravchenko says that it’s difficult to make predictions in sport, but he believes that the Ukrainian athletes will fight for victory in every race.

"They will do everything possible to produce the best results," he told the Kyiv Post.

One rising Ukrainian sports star, freestyle skier Oleksandr Abramenko, also has a good chance of bringing home a medal from Pyeongchang. Specializing in aerials (flips and twists in the air), the athlete won the Aerials World Cup in 2016 and took sixth place at the Olympics in Sochi four years ago.

The Ukrainian team has now finished all of its preparations ahead of the start of the competition.

Oleksii Krasovskyi, who is representing Ukraine in cross-country skiing, says that it’s important not to underestimate any of the competitors.

"My job is to go and do everything I can, or maybe even more than that," he told the Kyiv Post.

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This year’s competition is in many ways unique in the history of the sporting event.

Among the 93 participating countries, there are six newbies making a debut at this year’s Winter Olympics: Eritrea, Nigeria, Ecuador, Malaysia, Singapore and Kosovo.

One of the most unexpected participants this time is North Korea. Having been in conflict with South Korea since 1945, the country boycotted the Summer Games held in Seoul 30 years ago.

But this time, apart from having 10 representatives in four sports, North Korea has also sent a group of ice hockey players to play jointly with South Korea’s women’s national team. The players will compete as a united team under the title "Korea." The two countries will also march together in the opening ceremony under the Korean Unification Flag.

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These Olympic Games will also be the first that Russia has not attended since its independence.

After conducting an investigation, the International Olympic Committee’s commission discovered Russia had systematically manipulated the doping control process, and that Russian athletes had benefited from the cheating for years.

The organization stripped Russia of 13 medals, and 43 Russian athletes were disqualified from competition in 2018. The Russian Olympic Committee was also suspended from the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Other Russian athletes will be allowed to participate in the sporting events as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" (OAR) under a neutral flag, and with the Olympic anthem played at ceremonies.

Источник: https://en.censor.net.ua/p3049526
 
 
 
 
 
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