Sunday, February 12, 2012

The 30th Yongpyong International Ski Festival

The 30th Yongpyong International Ski Festival brought hundreds of foreign guests to Yongpyong Ski Resort this past weekend. Since 1982, this festival has been bringing guests from around the world to experience one of Korea's finest ski resorts and future host to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Festival participants were able to enjoy discounted rates on lift passes, ski and board rentals and condos. The culminating event of the weekend, though, was the ski race on Saturday, a Giant Slalom held on the silver slope, giving an opportunity for all to participate. Ski and snowboard races were held for men, women and children.

Of course, I had to participate as well. Here I am waiting for the Ladies I race to begin.

The U.S. National Ski Patrol was on hand to manage the day's event. They did an amazing job of keeping the hundreds of race participants organized and well informed about the event.

After a few delays it was finally my turn! here I am nearing the bottom of the race. 

 A snowboarder zooming through the Grand Slalom gates

Saturday evening, all were invited to the award ceremony and banquet. Guests were seated according to their nationality and some tables really went all out on their decorations and camaraderie.

U.S. National Ski Patrol's table, decorated in a most American fashion.

The evening started first with dinner, a huge buffet filled with Korean and international options.

After dinner, children and adults were entertained with a magic show. Even as an adult, I was quite impressed with some of the tricks. I could not for the life of me figure out how this card trick worked!

A magician doing a magic trick with a volunteer from the audience.

 Winners of the girls' junior ski race, ages 9-13

Finally, the award ceremony began. Prizes were awarded to first, second and third place winners in each division. The representatives from each country went wild when whenever one of their own was sent up to the stage to receive their awards. Flags were waved and winners were often carried on chairs or shoulders wrapped in their national flags to receive their awards. 

 A medalists from Mens' III division from Japan on his way to the stage to receive his award.

And wouldn't you know, I actually got an award myself. 2nd place in the Ladies I division. I got a medal, certificate and my grand prize, a gift certificate to get a free cleaning at a dentist in Seoul. Other awards included ski gear and cell phones for first prize winners. 

Overall, people really seemed to have a great time at this event, which brought out ex-pats from all walks of life, from English teachers to business men and women, all foreigners living here in Korea. Sunday was a day to enjoy skiing on the mountain and there was definitely an international feel to the mountain with hundreds of extra foreigners that the event brought out. I'll be certain to attend next year, and hopefully will be able to grab the gold metal, too, next time!

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