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Interview: Local skater talks about watching the Olympics in Pyeongchang

Meet Elli Chow, a pre-preliminary figure skater who was introduced to the sport while she was living in Stravanger, Norway, and who is currently skating with Coach Kaia at the Memorial Figure Skating Club and her mom, Yoon. Elli and Yoon traveled to the Olympics specifically to watch figure skating. They were able to see the men’s short program, the ice dance free skate, both the women’s short program and free skate and the women’s hockey gold medal match between Canada and the USA. 

*This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

So, you guys got to watch a lot of skating at the Olympics. How different was it watching it live as opposed to on TV?

Ellie: The arena was huge. So much bigger than the rink I skate at at home. And it was cold.

Yoon: *Laughs* You don’t feel the cold at home through the TV.

E: It was amazing to see them all there in person. I watched all the grand prix’s on TV so I know the routines and the music. But seeing them there in person was really cool.

Y: You can really feel the power of the jumps and the spins. You can hear the blades scratch the ice. We sat in different seats for the events but even when we were sitting half way up the arena, we could still hear the blades on the ice. When you watch it on TV you don’t get the same sense of their strength.

It’s safe to say it was better in person then?

*Nods of agreement from both*

E: It seems faster live too.

Do you feel more emotionally connected to the program watching it at the Olympics?

E: Oh yes.

Y: You know, jumps are jumps. The real difference is when you see them actually skating. You feel it more. The speed of them skating across the ice is incredible. You can feel how fast they’re going and its amazing because they’re performing at the same time.

E: When Mirai popped her axel, we were right there. Just a few feet away from her.

Y: I had tears in my eyes. I was crying. You don’t get that same connection on TV.

E: It was really sad. I felt for her.

Y: And you feel the danger because you can really see how powerful they are when they’re skating and jumping. I think it’s more beautiful when you see how dangerous it is.

E: It’s like you can’t look away. You’re kind of holding your breath for them.

Was there anything surprising about your experience at the Olympics? How did it measure up to how you thought your experience would be going in?

E: The rink was huge. It’s difficult to get a real feel for it on TV. It was massive.

Y: *Nodding* Grand, you know. Also, it’s funny because they make the same mistakes we do at home for our local competitions. The volume comes out too loud. They have to fix it. It’s a little embarrassing actually. You’d think that at that level they wouldn’t have those mistakes. But that’s skating!

E: And you do get to experience the culture of the country who’s hosting. We have family in Korea so I know the culture a little but you can definitely see it at the Olympics.

Y: And the Olympic spirit really is there. Everyone is positive. You can feel it, you know. It’s festive. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and watch these athletes and cheer for their country. It was nice to see.

Would you recommend that people go to the Olympics, if they had the chance?

E: Absolutely! Yes.

Y: It took a lot of work to plan and it’s a lot of traveling, definitely go! It’s worth it! Missing a little bit of school or work is nothing. It’s the Olympics!

simek mirai tennell wagner

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