What comes to mind when you think about what I consider to be the ultimate winter sports, ski? For me, I visualize Olympians racing down a slope, passing the blue and red gates. Usually, the only people you would see skiing fast down a mountain tackling obstacles would be either Olympians, or soon-to-be Olympians. This year’s “37th Yongpyong International Ski Festival” opened its door to anyone to participate and try out the gates, as it is a friendly ski festival with skiers from all around the world.
|[This is at the award ceremonies in the night after the Gala Dinner.
Photo credit by Clare Sohn.]
In fact, I was a competitor in this 2018-2019 season’s competition held at Yongpyong Resort. I had been competing in this race for 4 years, as it is a unique competitive race which is exclusively for foreigners living in Korea who are looking to compete in a friendly race to test their skills. The event was first held in 1983 for the development of ski culture, as well as promoting sportsmanship amongst foreigners stationed in Korea. Yongpyong takes pride in holding the nation’s only international ski festival with approximately 400 participants from 30 different countries taking part each year for both children and adults. By participating in this race, you can show patriotism for your country.
Personally, among all the competitions I have taken part in, I have to say that this is my favorite. Since this is an international competition, you can make friends with people all over the world who share the common passion for skiing. On the night before the competition there is an opening ceremony where you meet your competitors. There are flags of the countries that will be represented at the race and casual food and beverages while the host explains about the competition. When the day of the competition begins, everybody is dressed in their ski attire and their bibs, which is the number placement in which you will go. At this point in the race, everybody is nervous and excited. I was nervous because I wanted to ski well, but also excited since I knew I had friends competing in the competition with me with whom I knew I’d have fun with later.
The competition starts with the youngest kids, soon proceeding to juniors, and then to adults. I participated in the juniors’ category which was from ages 14-18. As the first competitor in my category, I skied down the slope as fast as I could, making sure that I did not miss any of the gates. The minute I passed the finish line, I had a quick relief that I made it down without falling.
The unique part about this competition is that there is an after party unlike some of the other competitions I had participated in. After everyone competes there is a gala dinner and party to celebrate everyone’s hard work. You sit with the people from your country since there are tables designated each country represented in the race. There, you have dinner, play with friends, and also learn about the culture around the world. At the end of the night, there is the award ceremony. Every time a country receives the “first place” award, the whole table goes mad and cheers for the winner. I think that this event is a friendly race between countries to learn about each other's cultures while still having fun. The purpose behind the establishment of this competition back in the 1980’s, which was to promote sportsmanship and culture, is definitely being well served.
|[This is at the gala dinner after the competition. Everybody had to sit by their country
they were representing. Photo credit by Clare Sohn]
Seoul Foreign School
Clare Sohn firstname.lastname@example.org
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