Seoul Snow Jam

The Seoul Snow Jam took place in Gwanghwamun Square December 11th – December 13th. I visited on Saturday night the 12th to see the Big Air Match. The Freestyle Show was on Friday and the FIS World Cup was on Sunday.

The giant snow jump ramp was constructed at the far end closest to Gyeonghbokgung Palace. 33 meters high and 104 meters long with scenic Mount Bukhansan in the background, it was an impressive sight not normally seen in Seoul or any other city that I can think of. The rest of Gwanghwamun Square was transformed into a giant viewing area for this event that according to the literature, was a good opportunity to promote Korea’s strong will to host the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang while building an adventurous image of Seoul to overseas tourists.

The Square was beautifully decorated. Blue and white winter lights in the shape of snowflakes lined many of the trees. The Salvation Army was out ringing their bells. Spot lights waved in the background. A few giant screens were available for a closer view of the high flying action. Another smaller ramp was set up across the street offering what looked like a junior competition. The city lights enhanced by the winter holiday festive atmosphere made it a fun public place to be on an early Saturday evening.

The Big Air Match stated at 6:30 pm, and by 4:00 the square was packed. The crowd moved back well past the giant statue of King Sejong. Athletes from Austria, Germany, Korea, Japan, USA, Finland, Swtizerland, Finland and Norway competed in a battle format, pinning two players against each other, with the biggest score advancing to the next round. The final consisted of 3 jumps. Dropping the lowest score and adding the higher 2 scores determined the winner. Hungry for dinner, we didn’t actually hang around to see who won the competition, but did have a lot of fun watching the first few rounds.

I’ve been here long enough to consider pushing and shoving that takes place in crowded situations in Korea normal. With so many millions of people living literally on top of each other, personal space simply doesn’t exist. The American notion of common courtesy such as “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” is pretty rare to encounter. It’s more like every man for himself, and I’m going through you to get where I am going. This was certainly the case at this public event as people were literally striking the Heisman pose, extra determined to either get to their viewing spot or get the heck out of the crowd . I found it humorous when a grown man stood on a 3 step ladder that he brought to the event, in the middle of crowd struggling to see as it is, and nobody asked him to get down. For these reasons, someone new to Seoul would have been a bit frustrated at this event. For those that have been here for a while, it’s easy to find the comedy in the cultural differences.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on December 14, 2009.

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