by Rachel Tringali Marston, Guest Contributor
I’m going to be honest. When military orders dropped for South Korea, I was a little disappointed.
My spouse did an unaccompanied tour here already and I had been to South Korea when I was younger. I had a “been there done that” moment when we found out we were moving to South Korea.
Once the initial shock wore off, I realized that being in South Korea would open up several doors for new adventures with my husband.
One of the most important thoughts that came to my mind was the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Even before setting foot in country, I was determined to make it to PyeongChang!
When we rang in the New Year, I started getting the ball rolling for our trip. It was quite easy to get tickets online and find a local place to stay. There were several pensions (almost like a bed and breakfast) available the weekend we wanted to visit. I was getting so excited and nervous about the Olympics. It was becoming more and more real!
My Experience At The 2018 Winter Olympics
With tickets in hand, my spouse and I drove to PyeongChang. It took us about 3 hours to get into town and we reached our pension before our first game, the 7.5km Women’s Biathlon Sprint.
I knew it was going to be COLD. But, I don’t think anyone could have prepared us for how cold. I wore many, many layers and I was still freezing.
My spouse, who is from Boston, kept seeking shelter throughout the event, while the folks from Scandinavia kept at it.
Despite how painful it was to be outside, we were determined to make it until the end of he event. Here we were watching these amazing athletes killing it on the course, doing something that I can never fathom doing, the least I could do was rally to cheer them on.
Team USA wasn’t the favorite to win in the biathlon, but that didn’t matter to me. The best part of our first game experience was being among the international community. I was so humbled to have the opportunity to come together with other fans to celebrate sportsmanship. Everyone was in such good spirits. We met fans from France, Canada, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden and more! Germany won the gold and we came across a huge troupe of Germans that supported their athlete.
Our day two at the Olympics was what I was most looking forward to…figure skating!
I purposely picked a weekend that included figure skating because that was priority one for me. Figure skating is my favorite Winter Olympic event.
What spectators don’t realize is that all the games are spread out from each other. Snowboarding, all the rest of the snow games, and the ice games are about an hour from each other. We had to drive about an hour to make it to the “coastal cluster” for figure skating, but the traffic was light and easy. I was getting pumped!
We saw ice dancing, the ladies’ short program and the pairs’ short program. I was yet again impressed with how easy the skaters made their axles and toe loops. Of course, when there was the occasional fall, the audience’s gasp echoed the stadium, but was quickly followed by applause for their effort.
When we were watching the figure skaters, it almost seemed like an out of body experience because I’ve watched it so much on TV. It was almost like I was sitting in my living room, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe I was sitting as a spectator for the performances.
Also, I have to mention that I completely geeked out when I saw Johnny Weir!
We ironically sat in the next section over from NBC’s booth and bordering the press area – if only I could have heard what they were saying!
All in all, it was surprising how the Olympics felt like being at a theme park. A theme park that included people from around the world.
I’m so happy we decided to bite the bullet and go at it on our own by driving there because we were able to travel around on our own time. Attending the Winter Olympics was so much easier than we expected.
Never in my dreams did I think I would make it to see the Olympics.
But, for us, everyday Americans, it doesn’t happen. Because the military sent us to South Korea, it gave us the opportunity to make a dream a reality. Now, we can say we’ve been to the Olympics and as a pleasant surprise, the military made that happen for us.
The countdown to the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo is on! So, for anyone that gets PCS orders to Japan in the near future, you have something to look forward to!
Rachel Tringali Marston is an Army spouse and daughter of an Air Force retiree. Before getting married, she lived in New York City for almost 10 years and worked as a publicist. Currently, Rachel is the president and owner of Wanderlust Public Relations and works as a freelance communication professional taking her career where ever the Army sends her. Rachel enjoys learning and exploring the area around her husband’s duty station and is embracing life in the military. In her spare time, she shares her adventures on her personal blog called Wandering Rae of Sunshine.