The 2018 Winter Olympics are not only about the best athletes from around the world competing against one another. This storied athletic competition is just as much about the ceremony and tradition that goes along with it. One of those must-watch traditions is the lighting of the Olympic Torch at the opening ceremony. So, who is Yuna Kim?
This awesome responsibility of lighting the Olympic cauldron is undoubtedly a great honor. As it turns out, understanding the awesome privilege of this duty is much easier than actually finding out who the final Olympic torchbearer is. Thankfully, that question was answered during the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9.
Yuna Kim is a South Korean ice skater, and even though the superstar won't compete in this year's Winter Games, according to NBC, she had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony. Yuna is no stranger to competition, though, and as soon as her fans saw her light the Olympic cauldron, they loved it. They were also immediately reminded of her immense talent and posted videos of her past performances, like this one at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Before the Olympic Torch Relay ended with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron on Friday, there was a 101-day journey that brought the Torch to the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. The Olympic Torch Relay began on Nov. 1, 2017, according to the official Olympics website. As the torch made its way through 17 cities and provinces all across the Republic of Korea, 7,500 torchbearers were on hand to help complete this unifying Olympic tradition.
PyeongChang City Hall was one of the final stops on the relay route before the opening ceremony on Friday, according to the PyeongChang 2018 website. In honor of the opening ceremony, there was a much smaller scale celebration held that included a bell-ringing ceremony and celebratory performances by the Baek-oh Performance Group and the Snow Children’s Choir. Kim Hyun-Ji was the torchbearer for the PyeongChang City Hall celebration.
Kim Hyun-Ji and her family are no strangers to winter sports competitions. She was an alpine skier up until her middle school days, and her brothers are both national team skiers. Kim's father is also a ski event referee, so when it comes to skiing, you could say it's all in the family for her. Even though her skiing background is strong, Kim currently runs an information network village for Ggotbat Yangji Cafe in Uiyaji Wind Village on the Daegwallyeong mountain pass in the Taebaek Mountains in South Korea. This new venture is outside her comfort zone, and she is using this moment as an Olympic torchbearer to give her dreams momentum as she realizes achievements that she once thought impossible.
Kim's mindset is right in line with the slogan of the Torch Relay, "Let Everyone Shine." The slogan and song by the the same title embody the Olympic spirit, which aims to "spark dreams, passion and a future that opens up new horizons for all." With that invigorating message in mind, the Torch even made its way to Kim's own Uiyaji Wind Village before heading to the opening ceremony to light the Olympic Cauldron.
Since the Olympic Torch is so crucial to the tradition of the games, this year's Torch Relay used 13 days of the journey to highlight the notion of "Relay for Everyone," according to the PyeongChang 2018 website. This stretch of the Torch Relay focused on heartfelt stories meant to inspire others while also promoting the values of "compassion and respect" and igniting a flame of "hope and determination."
The tradition of the Olympic flame in the modern era began with the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. The lead-up to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin saw the first-ever Olympic Torch relay, thanks to the idea put forth by Carl Diem, a German sports theorist and professor who was the Secretary General of the Organising Committee of the Games of the XI Olympiad. Since then, the Olympic Torch Relay is set by Rule 13 of the Olympic Charter, which decrees, "The Olympic flame is the flame which is kindled in Olympia under the authority of the IOC."
Thanks to Rule 13, the Torch Relay is always set in motion once the flame is lit in Olympia, Greece, which happened on Oct. 24, 2017 for the 2018 Olympic Torch Relay. Continuing with tradition, the Olympic cauldron was lit thanks to Yuna Kim, and now the 2018 Winter Olympics Games can begin.