Why did Olympic medalists receive 'teddy bears?'

The U.S. saw two of their favorite snowboarders hit the halfpipe, with 17-year-old Chloe Kim winning gold for Team USA.

After snowboarder Red Gerard won gold and got the United States its first medal in PyeongChang, social media lit up with congratulations, well wishes...and some unexpected confusion. 

That's because Red, along with the silver and bronze medalists, were handed 'bears' instead of medals during a ceremony after the snowboard slopestyle finals. 

The same thing happened after snowboarder Shaun White put down an incredible run that won him his third gold medal, which was also Team USA's 100th gold in Winter Olympics history. 

Many on Twitter pointed out the humor in snowboarders winning what appeared to be teddy bears. 









So, what's the deal with the 'bears'? 

The official website for the Olympics explains it all. Turns out it's a replacement for the flowers that are traditionally handed out.

And what looked like a 'teddy bear' is actually a doll of the PyeongChang games mascot Soohorang...who is a white tiger...not even a bear! 

During the Rio games organizers also scrapped traditional flowers instead handing out small sculptures of the Rio Olympics logo.

According to the Olympics website, each medalist will also be getting a wooden gift that shows "mountain scenes of PyeongChang and characters from the Korean Hangul alphabet spelling out “PyeongChang 2018” in the official Games motif."

It further explains that medal winners are recognized at the venue right after the competitions with a victory ceremony, and then again at the PyeongChang Medal Plaza in the evening. So Red Gerard, and the other snowboard medalists will still get their medals, just later on in the day. 



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