I love the Olympics – the pride in our country, the cool outfits of the American team, the opening ceremonies, and the crazy winter sports. I’m not sure who first decided to climb in a sleigh on a frozen waterpark tube and hurl themselves to the bottom at breakneck speeds, but they were quite the daredevils. For the majority of the winter sports, the athletes have to be somewhat nuts. I mean how many of these events could leave the participant disabled if they make one small mistake.
The Winter Olympics bring out the strangest events that have you wondering “how is that a sport?” and at the same time thinking “these athletes are incredible and fearless.” Other than downhill skiing and snowboarding in the states that have both hills – big hills, more like mountains – and snow, most of these events seem like a novelty. Also, there are only 16 Olympic winter sports while there are 42 Olympic summer sports. Side note: Isn’t basketball a winter sport? But I digress; let’s take a look at some of these wacky winter events.
My husband’s favorite is curling. In this “thrilling event,” teams of four players take turns sliding giant rocks on sheets of ice toward a target. The skip or captain gives direction, the thrower puts the “rock” in play, and two sweepers are like the clean-up crew and have brushes to keep the ice slick and free from friction so that the rock makes it into the target zone. It’s basically frozen shuffleboard. The skip yells a lot, and the sweeping is fast and furious. People who have tried this sport say it is much harder than it looks.
I enjoy watching the luge and the skeleton, but you have to be completely nuts to participate in either of these sports. Both of them involve a tiny sled on seriously sharp blades hurtling down an icy track with plenty of bends and twists. The athletes lie on their backs for the luge and go feet-first down the track. The uniform for this event is an aerodynamic suit like a superhero would wear along with, thankfully, a helmet. Lugers can reach speeds of 87 mph, and they steer with their feet. I don’t even like riding with my kid at 87 mph driving with his hands inside a car. The skeleton is similar to the luge sled, but the racer is lying face down and goes head-first. Yikes!
Here is a fun fact; the bobsled is actually called the bobsleigh. This event is a bit safer than the luge and skeleton since racers are protected by their sleigh. You need some serious quad strength if you are the sleigh pusher of the sleigh. And who can forget the Jamaican Bobsleigh team? Men have options for four-man, two-man, and mono (single rider), but women only have two-woman and mono as options.
Other sports this winter include the biathlon (cross country skiing with some target shooting), ski jumping, speed skating, figure skating, snowboarding, downhill skiing, and freestyle skiing. Get out your red, white, and blue and start cheering the team on. The Olympics are held Friday, February 9 through Sunday, February 25.