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South Korea’s ‘Garlic Girls’ curlers say coaches verbally abused them, excluded skip

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South Korea’s Olympic silver medal curling team — affectionately known as the “Garlic Girls” — want their coaches replaced, claiming they were verbally abusive, withheld prize money and excluded the team’s skip after the Winter Games, according to South Korean media.

“We would like to continue our training [for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics] without our current coaches and their influence,” the players wrote in their letter to the president of South Korea’s Olympic Committee, according to the Korea Herald. “Our coach Kim was hardly present while we were training for the Olympics. Whenever we made complaints about Kim to Kim Kyung-Doo, who is her father and the vice president of Korea Curling Foundation, he verbally abused us.”

One coach denied some claims, which South Korea’s Olympic Committee is investigating.

Skip Kim Eun-Jung, Kim Kyeong-Ae, Kim Seon-Yeong, Kim Yeong-Mi and Kim Cho-Hi were a revelation in PyeongChang, reaching the final after finishing seventh at the 2017 World Championship. South Korea had only one previous Olympic women’s curling appearance, placing eighth in Sochi.

All team members hailed from Uiseong, a farming area known for its garlic.

In the reported letter, the silver medalists wrote that their head coach, Kim Min-Jung, plus her husband and father, both curling officials, mistreated them. They said they were banned from using social media after the Olympics. And that coaches tried to “rule Kim Eun-Jung off the team” after she got married in July, according to the Korea Times.

Jang Ban-Seok, the head coach’s husband and the Olympic mixed curling team’s head coach, denied some claims.

He said prize money covered team expenses, and the curlers signed a financial agreement. He also said that since the skip was planning to get pregnant, they needed to find a replacement skip this summer.

“We’ve never trained in a way that would lead to a curler being kicked off the team,” Jang wrote, according to the Korea Times.

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MORE: Team Shuster tabletop curling game to hit stores

Paralympian, Olympic medalist light PyeongChang Paralympic cauldron (video)

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Skips of the South Korean wheelchair curling team and its Olympic silver-medal-winning women’s curling team lit the Paralympic cauldron together at the Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang on Friday night.

The Games run for 10 days through the Closing Ceremony on March 18.

Seo Soon-Seok and Kim Eun-Jung capped the final legs of the torch relay titled “Various Aspects of Coexistence” by organizers. They ignited the same cauldron that Yuna Kim lit to open the Olympics on Feb. 9 and was extinguished at the Feb. 25 Closing Ceremony.

Other torch bearers in the stadium included South and North Korean athletes carrying the flame together, as well as a South Korean biathlete with a Canadian coach, a South Korean athlete with his father and a visually impaired Alpine skier with her guide.

South Korean sled hockey player Han Min-Su attached his torch to his back and used a rope to climb the ramp toward the cauldron before handing off to the curlers.

“Everything starts with a dream,” new IPC president Andrew Parsons said in an earlier speech at the Olympic Stadium. “Great stories, great achievements, great drama. In a dream, anything is possible. Over the next 10 days, billions of people around the world will witness dreams becoming true here in PyeongChang.”

South and North Korea marched separately, unlike at the Olympics, where they entered the stadium together behind a unified flag. More on Thursday’s decision not to march together here.

Snowboarder Mike Schultz led the U.S. delegation, carrying the Stars and Stripes as part of the Parade of Nations. More on Schultz here.

Medal events begin with Alpine skiing and biathlon on Friday night on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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MORE: Paralympic TV, streaming schedule