Olympics 2018: Best Universities for Winter Sports

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On 9th February, the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will begin. For decades now, the Olympic Games have been times when countries around the world put aside their political and social differences and compete in the name of good sportsmanship.

Every Olympic Games can be considered a historical event, but with the current political situation around the world, these games will be especially vital for remembering the importance of peace and equality, while enjoying the performances of some of the greatest athletes in the world.

This also becomes evident considering where the Olympics are being held. Pyeongchang is close to the border between North and South Korea and with rising political tensions, lots of eyes are going to be directed to South Korea this February.

Luckily though, it appears that the two countries are willing to put aside their differences for the Games, and will even compete under a united flag, and will also share a joint women’s hockey team.

This will be South Korea’s second Olympic Games, and its first Winter Games; Seoul held the Summer Games in 1988. This will be the third Winter Olympics held in Asia. The previous two were both held in Japan: Sapporo 1972 and Nagano 1998.

South Korea is very mountainous with tons of great ski resorts and ice skating opportunities, which is part of the reason it won the bidding for the upcoming Olympics. Pyeongchang itself has a very high altitude with 84% considered mountainous and although it has a warm and humid summer, its winters are long and snowy, perfect for the Winter Games!

If you are an eager skier, snowboarder, ice skater, or all of the above and you are looking for an international education, you can do a lot worse than South Korea. Especially with great universities there, like Seoul National University, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology and the Pohang University of Science and Technology.

If you were to study in Seoul, say at Seoul National University, one of the best universities in Asia, you would be 3 hours from Pyeongchang and the biggest ski and snowboard resort in South Korea, Yongpyong, where you could practice your snowboarding and skiing.

If that’s too far for you to travel, Vivaldi Park is an hour away, Konjiam Resort is 90 minutes away, or one of the venues for the games, Phoenix Park is two hours away.

However, if you are eager to watch the games, it perhaps might not be feasible to sign up for a degree or course, travel to South Korea, find accommodation, then purchase tickets, just to watch these events live.

Or maybe you’re not interested in studying in South Korea. What other cities, countries or universities might be good for a snow sport lover?

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

While the previous Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia, there is a great university in the country’s capital that just cannot be ignored. One of the best, if not the best institutions in the country, Lomonosov is in the south-western part of the city, within walking distance of the Vorybyovy Gory ski slopes. Admittedly, there are only three, but they could not really be any closer to the university without the building going for a skiing trip of its own.

Of course, in the capital city, there are additional slopes like Krylatskoye, Novo-Peredelkino or Bitsevsky Park. Or if you prefer, there are snowy parks and countryside throughout and around the city, where you potentially have the option of going cross-country skiing.

It should also be worth noting that there are several excellent universities and places of learning in Moscow. Perhaps try Eurocentres Russia, if you want to improve your Russian language skills!

The University of British Columbia, Canada

The venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is surrounded by mountains, and while lots of events were held in the city, the bulk of them were played out in the Whistler Blackcomb resort, one of the largest ski resorts in the world.

Whistler Blackcomb is around 125km north of the city centre, which isn’t too far for a day trip if you are staying in the city, and the journey is certainly worth it, with more than 200 trails, more than 40 lifts and a total area of more than 8,000 acres.

However, if that remains too far for you, or you plan to ski or snowboard several times a week, then there are other mountains you can try, such as Grouse Mountain (15 minutes away), Mount Seymour (30 minutes away) or Cypress Mountain (30 minutes away).

In addition to the excellent University of British Columbia, you can also begin your search with Capilano University, or the Vancouver Film School.

Dartmouth College, United States of America

The Winter Olympics have been held in the United States four times: Squaw Valley, California; Lake Placid, New York (twice); and Salt Lake City, Utah. There are hundreds, if not thousands of places to study in either Canada or the US that have great snow sport facilities or locales, but we are going to highlight Dartmouth as it is one of the few US universities with its very own ski resort.

The College’s Dartmouth Skiway is just 20 minutes away and has 30 trails, totalling more than 100 acres, all of which are skiable. That is, of course, in addition to the Ivy League quality education that you will receive at one of the most in-demand colleges in the world. But, of course, we’re all in it for the skiing right?

Students at Dartmouth can also travel a little further to ski resorts including Okemo, Killington and Attitash, all of which are within a two-hour journey.

Hokkaido University, Japan

There are five ski resorts encircling Hokkaido University, in Sapporo, which, as you may have already guessed, hosted its own Winter Olympic Games in 1972. There was also a games in Nagano, in 1998.

Sapporo is a city on one of the most northern islands of Japan, Hokkaido, known for its snowy climate. So much so that the city hosts an annual Snow Festival, which draws more than 2 million tourists from abroad every year.

Resorts just a drive away include: Mount Moiwa, Sapporo Bankei, Fu’s Snow, Sapporo Teine and Sapporo Kokusai.

Université Joseph Fourier, France

Université Joseph Fourier, also known as Grenoble I and located in that French city, is commonly ranked as one of the best universities in France. What’s more is its location: Grenoble is occasionally referred to as the ‘Capital of the Alps’ and is surrounded by the famous mountain range and therefore all of the ski resorts which accompany the world-renowned skiing range.

It is less than an hour’s drive to resorts such as Chamrousse and Autrans, while there are also regular bus routes during the peak seasons to Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez.

Grenoble was home to the 1968 Winter Olympics, and has some of the best universities in France outside of Paris. In addition to Université Joseph Fourier, there is the Pierre Mendés-France University and Université Stendhal.

University of Oslo, Norway

There is a theme in list you may have noticed: countries that have once held the Winter Olympics tend to have good ski resorts. Funny that, huh?

Norway has lots of great ski resorts, with two of the best just a short drive away from the capital, Oslo. Oslo Winter Park is only 20 minutes away and although it is smaller than some of the country’s other ski resorts, it did hold The World Snowboarding Championships in 2012.

If you prefer something a little larger but don’t mind the extra trip, then one hour and 45 minutes away is Norefjell, which was one of the sites for the 1952 Oslo Olympics.

The fact that the city has some of the best universities in the country and also the world such as the University of Oslo and BI Norwegian Business School makes living and studying there all the more rewarding.

Universität Innsbruck, Austria

The Alps aren’t just located in France of course, with Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Germany, Slovenia and Austria all being Alpine countries. Austria, in particular, are in a consistent battle with France for the holding the best slopes in the Alps.

Although some may call Grenoble the Capital of the Alps, some citizens from these other countries may disagree. One competitor is Innsbruck, in Austria, which has also held the Winter Olympics, twice even, in 1964 and 1976. It also held the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012.

Some of the more famed resorts near the city include Axamer Lizum, Igls, Neustift Nordkette, Obergurgl and Solden, each of which are a short bus or car ride away.

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

There aren’t a lot of places in the southern hemisphere that spring to mind when one imagines snowy terrain, but Chile’s mountainous regions do have some excellent ski resorts.

If you were to study in the capital, Santiago, you could have access to the University of Santiago, the University of Chile or the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, all excellent institutions located just an hour or so away from two of Chile’s premier resorts, El Colorado and Valle Nevado. Each lie to the east of the city in the Chilean Andes.

Portillo is also just two and a half hours away, while Ski Pucon, Thermas de Chilan, La Parva and Coralco are short flights away, perhaps if you’re considering a short break.

University of Otago, New Zealand

Studying in New Zealand’s South Island offers access to 35 ski resorts, totalling 308 kilometres of slopes. There are some excellent universities across the island, but we prefer the University of Otago, one of the most beautiful universities in the world.

Those that go there can venture from the coastal city of Dunedin to Awakino, Treble Cone, Cardrona, Coronet Peak, Alpine Heliski, or The Remarkables, each of which are just a few hours away and offers its own unique terrain and views.

Snow Glorious Snow

So for most of us, the snow and ice seems a rare and magical thing, but listed here are nine wonderful places to both study in another country while having access to some of the world’s best snow ski and ice skating resorts. Imagine it! Travelling to study and then being able to make snowballs and snowmen and snow angels as often as you like.

Of course, these aren’t the only places to study and be near the snow, there’s Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Argentina, Australia and so many more. And we haven’t even gotten to the places without snow where you can practice your skiing on false slopes.

So if you are a budding adventurer and snowsports lover, or perhaps you aim to compete at the next Olympics, or even the one after that, we hope this guide has helped!