Three decades ago, South Korea made its debut as an Olympic host when the 1988 Summer Games were held in Seoul. It will show a different side -- one blanketed with snow and ice -- when it welcomes the world again this week. Here are some of the themes that could emerge as the Winter Games come to Asia for the third time:
Two Koreas under one flag
Pyeongchang is only 50 miles from the North Korea border, putting the Olympics at an uncomfortable distance from a nation led by Kim Jong Un. Those worries were calmed last month when North Korea announced it would send a delegation, including 22 athletes, to the Winter Games and march with South Korea in the opening ceremony under a unified flag. The two nations also will field a joint women's hockey team. While some South Koreans are praising the apparent thaw in relations, others are skeptical of Kim's motives. But North Korea's participation has soothed the primary security concern surrounding these Games.
Russian flag, uniform ban
The Russians are coming, but you won't be able to tell by their uniforms. After Russia was determined to have run a systematic, state-sponsored doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee declared that only Russian athletes who proved themselves to be drug-free could compete in Pyeongchang -- and the country's flag, anthem and uniforms would be banned. That reduced the pool of eligible athletes to about 400 and excluded some gold-medal favorites. But the winners of the medal count in Sochi still will send a sizable delegation, with competitors officially identified as "Olympic Athlete from Russia."
No NHL shifts countries' plans
The men's hockey tournament in Pyeongchang will take on a whole new level of unpredictability, thanks to the NHL's decision not to participate. The league had sent its players to the Olympics every year since 1998, but it concluded it would not get enough benefit this time around to justify a two-week break in the schedule. That forced the 12 countries in the tournament to find talent elsewhere. The U.S., for example, stocked its roster with men playing professionally in Europe and a few college players. Will these Games be reminiscent of the 1980 "Miracle On Ice," or will it be the most mundane Olympic hockey in years?
Putting winter back in games
For the first time since 2006, winter might be returning to the Winter Olympics. The 2014 Sochi Games were held in a subtropical climate, with palm trees dotting the Olympic Park and skiers overheating in 50-degree mountain temperatures. The 2010 Vancouver Games suffered from a lack of snow, and rain turned outdoor venues to slushy puddles. By contrast, the February average temperature in the Pyeongchang region is 31 degrees, with lows often in the single digits. It's also known for a bitter north wind that can produce below-zero windchills.
Vonn, Shiffrin lead U.S. skiers
This likely will be the final Olympics for Alpine skiing legend Lindsey Vonn, a 33-year-old Burnsville, Minn., native whose 81 World Cup victories are the second most in history. The 2010 Olympic downhill champion is hitting her stride at the right time, with a three-race winning streak that makes her the downhill favorite. Teammate Mikaela Shiffrin also will be a threat to win multiple races in Pyeongchang. Shiffrin, at age 18, became the youngest Olympic slalom champ in history at the 2014 Sochi Games. She's gunning for gold in slalom, giant slalom, super-G and Alpine combined. She also could compete in the new Alpine team event.
Two rulers of women's rink
This year marks the 20th anniversary of women's hockey at the Winter Olympics. It also marks 20 years since the first, and only, Olympic gold medal won by the United States. The Americans and Canadians remain the rulers of the rink, with one of them taking the gold at every Olympics and world championship in history. The U.S. recently has held the upper hand in one of the greatest rivalries in sports, defeating Canada for the title at the past four world championships. But the Olympic gold is the big prize, and a team stacked with Minnesotans hopes to end four Winter Games' worth of heartbreak.
More diversity at the start line
Winter Olympians typically are born and raised in Europe, North America and Asia. This year promises more diversity. Nigeria will send athletes for the first time, in women's bobsled and skeleton. Jamaica qualified in women's bobsled. Ghana will send women's skeleton athlete Akwasi Frimpong, and Pita Taufatofua of Tonga -- the shirtless flag-bearer who was a viral sensation at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics -- will compete in cross-country skiing. The U.S. team includes short-track speedskater Maame Biney, a native of Ghana who will become the second African-born athlete to compete for the Americans in the Winter Games.
Speedskaters seek comeback
After years of piling up Olympic medals, the U.S. speedskating team left the Sochi oval in tatters. The Americans failed to win a medal in the sport for the first time since 1984 -- coming up empty for only the third time in Olympic history -- and athletes openly complained about everything from their racing suits to their pre-Games preparation. They have a strong shot to rebound in Pyeongchang. Since Sochi, Brittany Bowe and Heather Bergsma have won world championships medals in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters, and Joey Mantia was the 2017 world champion in mass start, a new event.
Chen poised for skating gold?
Nathan Chen made a huge impression -- and some history -- at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minn. He became the first American man to land four quadruple jumps in a long program. The reigning two-time U.S. champ now has five different quads in his arsenal, placing him among the Olympic favorites. It's a different story for the U.S. women. They have not won an Olympic medal since Sasha Cohen's silver in 2006, a drought that has dampened American interest in the sport. Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen will be hard-pressed to make the podium against a loaded Russian contingent.
New events and old favorites
Whether you're a fan of the old or the new, these Olympics will have something for you. Several events will make their Olympic debut, including snowboard big air, mixed doubles curling, an Alpine skiing team event, and two mass-start speedskating races. On the flip side, a group of ageless athletes will lend a sentimental touch to the Games. Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai will compete in his eighth Winter Olympics -- a record -- at age 45. U.S. snowboard legend Shaun White, 30, is going for a third Olympic gold and fellow American halfpipe rider Kelly Clark, 34, could medal in her fifth Winter Games.
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