The first South Korean-born NHL player is tasked with leading the nation’s hockey team to its first Olympics, a home Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018.
The Korea Ice Hockey Association announced Jim Paek, an NHL defenseman in the 1990s, as its new head coach.
“The idea of coaching the National Team in the Olympics is one of my dreams,” Paek said, according to the IIHF. “I’ve always wanted to help develop Korean hockey. I’ve returned to Korea many times to run hockey schools and coached Korean teams traveling to Canada. What a great opportunity I have now.”
Paek, 47, won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992 to begin a five-year NHL career. He coached the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL for the last nine seasons.
Paek, who was also named national team program director, replaces Byoen Sun-Wook, who resigned after three years at the helm after South Korea went 0-5 with a minus-20 goal differential in a low tier of the 2014 World Championships, being relegated to an even lower tier.
Paek’s goal is clear but not easy — qualify South Korea for the Olympics. No host country has ever not participated in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament, but the end of automatic host qualification beginning in 2010 has put South Korea’s hopes in doubt.
“I know Korea hockey is aiming for the 2018 Winter Games, it’s a great challenge but if we are organized and have a plan and teach the process good things will come,” Paek said, according to the IIHF. “We cannot lose focus on the process.”
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Pyeongchang Olympic organizers published a promotional video Friday highlighting the South Korean host’s venues and its slogan, “Passion. Connected.”
The video highlights South Korea’s history of hosting major sports events — the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, the 2002 FIFA World Cup across Japan and South Korea and the 2011 World Track and Field Championships in Daegu — which was also a point during its host city candidacy several years ago.
Pyeongchang finally earned the right to host the Olympics after finishing second in voting for the 2010 Winter Games (losing by three votes) and the 2014 Winter Games (losing by four votes).
The Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9, 2018, will mark the first Winter Games in East Asia in 20 years.
The slogan was announced on May 16, 2015.
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Mack Horton, the Olympic 400m freestyle champion, said he had a mole on his chest removed after a fan emailed his Australian swim team doctor alerting to get it checked out.
Horton said he believed the concerned fan may have been a skin specialist, according to the (Melbourne) Herald Sun.
“I’ve been watching this mole for a little while, Mack should probably go and get it checked out,” Horton said the fan said in an email to the doctor, according to the report. “They just looked at it [Thursday] and said let’s take it out now.
“They checked my whole body and then looked at this one and said we’d rather do it sooner rather than later.”
Horton joked on Australian TV that he probably owes the fan a free swim lesson.
“Sometimes I was blasé and sometimes I’d see it in the mirror and say, ‘I probably should get this one checked out,’ because I had noticed it had been changing a little bit, but I guess this person calling me out on it made me finally go and do it, which was a good thing,” Horton said, according to the newspaper.
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