Israel’s Largest-Ever Winter Olympics Squad Heads to Korea

Israel’s 2018 Winter Olympics athletes and coaches. (Credit: Amit Shisel/Israel Olympic Committee)

Ten Israeli athletes will represent Israel at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, February 9-25: eight skaters, an Alpine skier and a skeleton racer.

Ten Israelis athletes will represent Israel in four sports at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, February 9-25: short-track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov, Alpine skier Itamar Biran, skeleton racer Adam (AJ) Edelman, and figure skaters Alexei (Oleksii) Bychenko, Daniel Samohin, Evgeni Krasnopolsky, Paige Conners, Adel Tankova, Ronald Zilberberg and Aimee Buchanan.

This is Israel’s largest-ever Winter Olympics delegation since its first participation in the games in 1994. Three of the current teammates also competed in 2014: Bychenko, Krasnopolsky and Bykanov.

Israel has never won a medal in a Winter Olympics. This year, many fans have their hopes pinned on Bychenko, who earned the silver medal in the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships and is known for mastering difficult moves such as the quadruple jump.

In 2017, Bychenko took 10th place in the figure-skating world championships in Helsinki; second place in the Cup of Tyrol competition in Austria and the Golden Spin in Zagreb; and third place at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow and the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Osaka.

Only three of the 2018 Olympics teammates (Biran, Samohin and Zilberberg) are Israeli by birth. Bychenko, Bykanov, Krasnopolsky and Tankova are Ukrainian natives, while Edelman, Conners and Buchanan were born in the United States.

Edelman took up skeleton racing—where the athlete rides prone on a small sled down a frozen track—only four years ago and is self-coached. He was quoted as saying that whether or not he comes home with a medal, “the most important thing to me is that there will be a lasting image of another Israeli walking behind the flag.”

Israeli technology will be featured at the Winter Games, too. Thanks to a deal between Intel and the International Olympic Committee, special viewing features will be available from Israeli startup Replay Technologies. Acquired by Intel in 2016, the company uses voxels (pixels with volume) to render replays in spectacular 3D, creating a 360-degree view of key moments. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said these features will allow more people to “experience a prime seat while being anywhere in the world.”

In addition, the Israeli athletes are tailoring their menus individually by using the Israeli DayTwo app to keep their blood-glucose levels balanced.

By Abigail Klein Leichman/Israel21c