The biggest sporting event this winter is undoubtedly the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang (Republic of Korea). Bulgaria did not win any medals at Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010, but fans of winter sports are now looking forward to the upcoming Olympics, having optimistic expectations that Bulgarian athletes would be able to win at least one medal.
The opening of the games is due on February 9. Bulgaria participates in PyeongChang 2018 with 21 athletes in 6 sports: biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, alpine skiing, luge and snowboarding. For the first time since the Games in Albertville in 1992, Bulgaria will be present in biathlon competitions with a total of ten competitors. These are Krassimir Anev, Vladimir Iliev, Anton Sinapov, Dimitar Gerdjikov, Mihail Klecherov, Emilia Yordanova, Desislava Stoyanova, Stefani Popova, Daniela Kadeva and Milena Todorova. Veselin Tsinzov, Yordan Chuchuganov and Antonia Grigorova-Burgova will take part in the cross-country events. Albert Popov, Maria Kirkova and Kamen Zlatkov will participate in the alpine skiing events in Pyeongchang, while in ski jumping the attention of Bulgarian viewers will be focused on Vladimir Zografski, who has achieved remarkable results in this sport and who will participate for the second time at Winter Olympics, despite the fact that there have been no functioning ski jumping facilities in Bulgaria for many years now. In the luge events Bulgaria will be represented by Pavel Angelov, while Alexandra Zhekova, Radoslav Yankov and Teodora Pencheva will compete in snowboarding.
The last winter Olympic medal won for this country is the short track silver medal of Evgenia Radanova from Torino 2006, but now the big expectations for medals of the Bulgarian Ski Federation and fans of snow sports are linked to the performance of the best Bulgarian snowboarders - Aleksandra Zhekova (snowboard cross) and Radoslav Yankov (parallel giant slalom). Talking to media, Zhekova said she is in top shape and has ambitious goals for PyeongChang 2018, which will be her fourth consecutive Olympic participation. Yankov's excellent achievements in recent years and his two world championship titles in the parallel giant slalom have prompted both native and foreign sports experts to predict Bulgaria could return from Korea with a medal in snowboarding. Yankov will also be the flag-bearer of the Bulgarian delegation during the official opening ceremony on Friday.
20 years after becoming part of the Olympic Games, snowboarding has not yet lost its youthful free spirit and the IOC has once again focused on this sport in an attempt to attract youths’ interest in the Olympics. This winter for the first time, viewers will enjoy the adrenaline rush the Big Air discipline offers, causing a person to wonder where the limits of human abilities are. Unfortunately, Bulgaria will not have participants in this new attractive discipline or in the snowboard slopestyle competitions that enjoy very high popularity among young people, but the Olympic development of these disciplines could also boost their progress in this country in the future.
Just a few days remain before the start of the XXIII Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The Games promise strong emotions and fans will be keeping their fingers crossed for all Bulgarian competitors, watching with interest their performance at the biggest winter sports forum.
English: Alexander Markov
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