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Bobsledders, snowboarders rule Tinder at Pyeongchang

By Liana B. Baker

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - The most popular athletes on Tinder at the Olympics in Pyeongchang are male bobsledders and female snowboarders, the dating app said on Wednesday.

Tinder, the dating app owned by Match Group Inc, has seen major spikes in usage at the Olympics since it caught on during the last Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

On Tinder, a swipe right signals interest in a prospective partner, as opposed to a left swipe, which passes over a person.

Behind bobsled, the most right swiped male athletes on the app were ice hockey players, followed by snowboarders, alpine skiers and skeleton racers.

After snowboarding, the most right swiped female athletes were alpine skiers, bobsledders, lugers and freestyle skiers.

Tinder said it has seen a 348 percent increase in usage at Pyeongchang, compared to the usage of the app in the area before the Olympics began.

South Korea is not one of Tinder's top 10 markets so it could also make some headway in the country during the Olympics.

"Every Olympics we hear that Tinder is 'on fire' in the villages and we notice our usage increase significantly when people from around the world gather for an event," a spokeswoman said.

It also gave free access to Olympians staying in the athletes village to its paid "gold" tier during the Games. The "gold" tier is not special for the Olympics and was introduced six months ago.

It is not just athletes connecting with each other at the Games. Tinder has a feature that allows users from around the world to change their location to any city, including the Olympic village.

So far, app users based in the United States, Sweden and Great Britain are trying the most to connect with Olympians in Pyeongchang.

Tinder added 1.5 million paid subscribers last year, compared with about 900,000 in 2016, Match Group said earlier this month. Its core product is still free.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in Pyeongchang; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)