Winter Olympic Sports

Winter Olympic Sports

Even if you’re a big fan of sports, you might be less familiar with certain Winter Olympic sports. That’s understandable, and especially if you live south of the equator. But to better appreciate the Winter Games, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of some of the sports played in them. Here are some that you might be somewhat unfamiliar with:

1. Bandy.

This is actually a demonstration sport that first appeared in the 1952 Winter Olympics, while making a return in 2010. This sport resembles hockey somewhat, although the skaters try to shoot a ball, rather than a puck, into the goal of the opposing team. The sport also has some similarities to soccer. Each team has 11 players, while the field is the same size as a soccer field. Also, the game includes two halves that are both 45 minutes.

2. Biathlon.

While a gun is probably the least likely piece of equipment you’d expect to see in a Winter Olympics event, it’s needed for the Biathlon. This event is a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting. The first competition was among Norwegian soldiers, back in 1767! The cross-country part of the event includes a distance of 7km-20km. Meanwhile, the shooting part requires athletes to shoot at targets 50 meters away. The targets are roughly twice as large when shooting while prone (lying on your front), than when standing. The first Winter Olympics Biathlon event took place in 1960.

3. Curling.

Also referred to as “Kurling” by Europeans, Curling has also earned the moniker “chess on ice”. The game includes brooms and granite stones. Curling includes two teams with four players on each team. The teams play on a sheet of ice with a rectangular shape. Players use “sweepers” to guide huge polished (granite) stones down the ice. The goal is for the stone to stop at the target located at the end of the piece sheet-known as the “house”. At the end of the match, the team with the most points is victorious. Interestingly, Curling appeared in the 1924 Winter Olympics, and then reappeared in 1998.

4. Skeleton.

In 2002, this event became a part of the Winter Olympics for the first time since 1948. Participants ride a small sled down the track. But there’s a catch! Differing from a similar Olympic event, the athlete lies face-down, and faces forward. Basically, it’s a version of the Luge, in which the athlete lies on his back. This sport definitely isn’t for the faint of heart-the sled contains no tool for steering or braking! Athletes can whiz by at top speeds of 80 mph (130 km/hr).

5. Speed Skiing.

This is another demonstration sport returning to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Basically, it involves skiing downhill in a straight line-as quickly as you can. In fact, Speed Skiing is one of the fastest land sports that aren’t motorized.

Having a better understanding of these Winter Olympic sports will allow you to enjoy the games better. Now you know that Skeleton isn’t just something holding our bodies together!