Ultimate Guide to Watching the Winter Olympics with Kids
Many families will be glued to their TVs this month watching the 2018 Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 9 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Read on to learn more about the Olympics and make watching from home more exciting. Also, meet some Atlanta kids who have hopes of making it big some day.
For the first time, NBC’s primetime Olympics broadcasts and online streaming will be simultaneous across all U.S. time zones – beginning at 8 p.m. EST Feb. 9. Until the closing ceremonies Feb. 25, viewers will have access to live coverage instead of delayed replays. The full schedule of events can be found here.
Four Fun Facts
1 The medals for the games feature diagonal lines and three-dimensional consonants from the Korean alphabet, with a texture to resemble tree trunks; gold medals weigh 586 grams, about 19 ounces.
3 The Nigerian bobsled team will become the first Nigerian team and the first African women competitors in the Winter Olympics.
4 The United States has hosted the Winter Olympics four times, more than any other country: Lake Placid in 1932, Squaw Valley in 1960, Lake Placid again in 1980 and Salt Lake City in 2002.
The mascot for the Winter Games is a white tiger named “Soohorang.” In Korean mythology the white tiger was viewed as a guardian that helped protect the country and its people.
The 2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team includes players who compete in leagues all over the world. NHL players are not allowed to compete this year, which left the U.S. to form a team of NCAA college athletes, European-based players and players from other American leagues. Team USA will be in Group B alongside Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia, and opens the competition on Feb. 14 against Slovenia.
Watch Local Hockey: Go to an Atlanta Gladiators game. The Gladiators are an ECHL (formerly East Coast Hockey League) Boston Bruins affiliate. This mid-level hockey team has been around since 2003, and is Atlanta’s only professional hockey team. The season runs through April 7 with home games played at Infinite Energy Arena.
When men’s figure skating gets under way, the competitor to watch is the USA’s Nathan Chen, 18, the only unbeaten men’s figure skater in the world. His closest competition is expected to be Olympics champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou also will represent the USA. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, 22, a silver Olympics medalist four years ago, is a favorite in the women’s competition, though USA’s women’s team, Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen are excellent skaters.
Want to Learn to Skate? Atlanta has five indoor ice rinks open year-round where kids and parents can learn moves on the ice; skate as a family during open skate times, or enroll the kids in hockey or figure skating lessons. Some outdoor ice rinks are open through mid-February.
Most of us love the Olympics’ alpine skiing events. Alpine skiing encompasses a number of contests (downhill, super-G, slalom, giant slalom and a combined event). The USA’s hopes for Olympic gold in alpine skiing rest with Mikaela Shiffrin, 22, of Eagle-Vail, Colo., who won the slalom four years ago at the Sochi Winter Games. In the men’s division, Ted Ligety, 33, of Park City, Utah, is a phenom on the giant slalom.
Take a Road Trip to Ski: North Carolina ski resorts have a welcoming atmosphere for beginning skiers and families. Check snow conditions on each resort’s website; most stay open until mid-March. Find out more with our guide to North Carolina ski resorts.
Olympics Fun at Home
Here’s how to ramp up the excitement, make watching the Olympics more fun and sneak in a little learning, too.
Learn History, Geography and More: What a great opportunity for kids to learn a little about South Korea, and its neighbor North Korea, or more about the Olympics throughout history or even the 1996 Summer Games that Atlanta hosted.
Play a Trivia Game: You’ll find plenty of trivia quizzes online – put them up on the TV screen and see who can score the most correct answers. Two good ones for older kids are World History Project and CNN; For younger kids, try Kidz World.
Make a Craft: Create salt dough medals by combining 1 cup of salt with 1 cup of flour and ¾ cup of water. Combine ingredients into a dough, roll flat and cut out three circles. Imprint with wooden or plastic numbers, poke a hole for the ribbon and bake at 210 degrees for two hours. Once dry, paint them with gold, silver and bronze acrylic paint and thread ribbons through the holes to wear.
Play a Version of ‘I Spy:’ Download flags of the countries participating the Olympics and see who can spot them first during the opening ceremonies. Bonus points if you can name the country or the continent.
Read a Book: “The Winter Olympics” by Nick Hunter is a go-to guide for kids about Winter Olympics facts and stats. The book includes information about many of the sports in the games as well as great photos.
See a Movie: “Cool Runnings” is a Disney film about the Jamaican bobsled team. “Miracle” tells the true story of Herb Books, the coach to who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to an unlikely victory over the Russian team. In “The Cutting Edge”, a figure skater and a former hockey player try to win Olympic gold as a figure skating pairs team. Take older kids to a movie in theaters now, “I, Tonya” based on the story of competitive ice skater, Tonya Harding.
–Teresa Farkas and Amanda Miller Allen