Curling, skeleton, bobsled…oh my!
Three obscure events are must-sees at this year’s winter games. Whether you have watched before or not, these are unusual but very exciting.
Skeleton combines speed and skill as the athletes lunge head-first, down an icy slope. If you haven’t checked it out in years past, you might want to tune into this year’s competition. The event is similar to luge in that athletes get a running start and dive onto a sled. Once on the course, athletes shift their body weight to turn the sled and reach speeds as high as 90 mph. The fastest time after four heats on the sliding center’s course wins gold. Elizabeth Yarnold from Great Britain is an athlete to watch on the women’s side of the event.
The bobsled event features two person and four person teams where athletes will get a running start and jump into a sled to compete for fastest run time. Like the skeleton event, sleds are controlled by the body weight on the cart and speeds can reach up to 100 mph. The Jamaicans, who only field the bobsled event in the Winter Olympics, are always a favorite.
Curling features large granite stones pushed across ice like shuffleboard. Teams push the stones toward a target resembling a bullseye. Teammates with brooms then sweep the ice rapidly in front of the stone in order to slow down/speed up the stone’s movement to score points. Curlers are often known for their outrageous outfits during the competitions.
Although these events aren’t quite as exciting as snowboarding and freeskiing, they are internationally-regulated sports with top athletes, popular throughout the world.
New to the games: slopestyle
In addition to the team figure skating event, another exciting event will debut this month in Sochi.
The slopestyle competition features three rail sections and three jumps, giving men and women ski and snowboard athletes another opportunity to reach the podium.
After years of excitement at XGames, the slopestyle event for both skier and snowboarders will bring interest to a younger audience at this year’s games. Action sports icon and gold medalist, Shaun White is the favorite in the men’s snowboarding category.
During the four new competitions, athletes will be judged based on spins, flips, grinds and overall style on the course. The rail section will have three different areas where the skier or snowboarder can grind rails, jibs and boxes. After the rails comes the jump section; three consecutive massive mounds of snow will launch athletes over 80 feet through the air. While suspended, athletes will spin up to five times or flip to impress the judges.
Slopestyle fared very well at this year’s XGames in Aspen, CO. The event’s massive popularity contributes to the 2014 Olympic addition.