Olympic odds, ends & trends: Get to know the Pyeongchang Olympic mascot | SummitDaily.com

Olympic odds, ends & trends: Get to know the Pyeongchang Olympic mascot

Volunteers pose with mascot Soohorang inside the Pyeongchang Olympic Village prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
AP Photo / Patrick Semansky | AP

The backstory of the South Korean Olympic mascot and more in today’s Summit Daily Olympic odds, ends and trends:


The time on Saturday when Pyeongchang organizers finally normalized the games’ official website after its servers were hacked by an unidentified attacker during the opening ceremony the previous day. The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Games (POCOG) said it experienced a cyber attack which caused a malfunction of the internet protocol televisions at the Main Press Center. As a result, organizers shut down the servers to prevent further damage, leading to the closure of the Pyeongchang 2018 website. In an official statement, POCOG said there were some issues late Friday that impacted “non-critical systems” for several hours and added that they had no effect “on the safety and security of any athletes or spectators” during the opening ceremony. But due to the shutdown of the website, spectators who purchased tickets to 2018 Winter Games events were unable to print their reservations. Details of where the attack originated remain unknown.

Soohorang: Your new best friend

Soohorang the white tiger is the official mascot for the Pyeongchang Games, but why?

It was selected in 2014 with the purpose of showcasing to the rest of the world the symbol of trust, strength and protection that the white tiger holds in Korean mythology. The name is derived from the Korean words “sooho” and “horangi,” which mean “protection” and “tiger,” respectively. The name is also a nod to the host city, as it’s also part of the title of a traditional folk song of the province in which Pyeongchang is located.

The protective function of the tiger is also on display at the royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty, where stone tiger statues “protect” the tombs that contain the remains of kings and queens dating back to the 15th century. And the color of the tiger is indeed important, as white tigers have been seen as sacred guardians in Korean folklore. So much so, in fact, that ancient Koreans designed talismans shaped like tigers to ward off evil spirits.

As for actual tigers in the area of where the Olympics are being hosted, for decades not a single wild tiger sighting was reported in the Baekdudaegan mountain range on the southern Korean Peninsula. Then in January 2017, the South Korean state forest service released a pair of tigers donated by China into a new specially designed breeding ground.

Oh, so that’s why they call it ‘Gloversville’

Did you like the gloves the U.S. Olympic Team wore while waving their hands to the crowd at Friday’s opening ceremony? Well, the fringed leather gloves were actually made back in a little city of 15,000 in the southern foothills of the Adirondack State Park in New York.

That town would be Gloversville, where the specialty tanning shop Sunderland Leather Co. processed bison hides into the leather that Olympia Gloves, in turn, manufactured into gloves. Olympia did so using a design — one evocative of horse-mounted cavalry soldiers — provided by Ralph Lauren, the official supplier of the team outfits for the Olympics.

“We’ve got four generations in the business in Gloversville,” Matthew Smrtic of Sunderland Leather Co. told the Central New York newspaper The Daily Gazette. “It’s nice to get this publicity.”

Sunderland, which has only 30 employees, also produced the leather for deerskin jackets worn by the U.S. team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The company was founded in 1971, and for 30 years, it has operated out of a former silk mill. They now produce about a million square feet of deerskin and a half-million square feet of bison hide annually for use in gloves, shoes, bags and garments.

As for Olympia Gloves, the company’s vice president of design Peter Kiernan also maintains its design studio in Gloversville, a fourth generation member of his family in the business there.

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