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The PyeongChang Games Medals

Next time you're tuned in to the Winter Olympics, perhaps you'll imagine what it would be like to hold and view these winning medals up close...

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If you’re one of the 23 million or so viewers across the U.S. watching the PyeongChang Games this winter, you likely observed every little detail of Shaun White’s Double McTwist 1260 or each turn of Mikaela Shiffrin’s blazing speed – all in slow-motion, of course, and all multiple times. Watching these athletes with vigorous heedfulness is the Olympic sport of us spectators. But, there may be something you haven’t yet noticed from these Games, and come February 25th, you’ll have had 259 chances: the actual medals they’ve won.

The International Olympic Committee explains where the idea for this year’s design comes from, saying, “(They are) inspired by the texture of tree trunks, with the front bearing the Olympic rings and dynamic diagonal lines that reflect both the history of the Olympics and the determination of the participants.” 

Lee Suk-woo, the South Korean designer behind its visual concept, incorporated “the Korean alphabet and the foundation of Korean culture into their design through a series of consonants, symbolizing the effort of athletes from around the world who will come together as one to compete at PyeongChang 2018.”

Weighing 1.29 pounds (586 grams) – 20 percent heavier than those manufactured for the Rio Games – the gold medal is composed of a silver metal with a purity of 99.9 percent, and then plated with 6 grams of gold, which is the minimum requirement of the International Olympic Committee. According to research, which takes into consideration the value of gold and silver as of February 2018, the true value of a gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics is about $570.30.

Weighing 1.27 pounds (580 grams), silver medals also have a purity of 99.9 percent. The bronze medal, however, is just barely over a pound (493 grams), and is made up of a copper medal (Cu90-Zn10). 

The teal ribbon that the medals hang from is also carefully constructed as an ode to South Korean culture. Made using gapsa, a traditional South Korean fabric, the ribbon is embroidered with Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) patterns and other designs. A lesser-known detail of the ribbon is that it has a light red backing, creating a subtle accent on the opposing side of the more vibrant blue.

Bob Hagel, owner of Eagle’s Mark Awards and Signs, shares his thoughts on these medals with A&E, saying, “A lot of thought goes into the design of the medals for each Olympics. The PyeongChang Games are no exception.” He elaborates, “I love the fact that the designers respect the Olympic traditions and the designs include aspects of its history, as well as the country it is taking place in. The PyeongChang medals are beautiful and the texture of tree bark offers a different look from past medals.

“I think the fact that the awards are wearable medals is brilliant,” Hagel continues. “The winning athletes wear the medals not only during the awards ceremony, but around the Olympic village, and even on TV back home. 

“When I think of the Olympics I always picture an athlete with a medal around their neck – it’s a great way to continue to brand the Olympics and inspire others to compete and do their best at whatever they do.”

For more information about this year’s medals, visit www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018-medals.

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