Can You Believe These Are Olympic Sports?

PHOTO: John Landsteiner of USA (L) and team mate Jared Zezel (R) sweep after Jeff Isaacson throws a rock during the Olympic Qualification Tournament tie-breaker match between USA and Korea, Dec. 14, 2013 in Fussen, Germany.
Share
Copy

More than 190 million people worldwide are expected to tune into the Sochi Winter Olympics. With more than 15 sports, 98 medal events and 85 hours of daily coverage on television and online, that's a lot of rings to watch.

Here's a sampling of nine Winter Olympic sports that will confuse, amaze or inspire you.

Related: Ski Jumper Aiming High At Sochi Olympics

Curling

More than half of Canadians watch TV coverage of curling, a sport that baffles Americans.

Fundamentally, the object of curling is to sweep your stones down the sheet and move them closer than your opponent to the button of the house. In plain English: four players per team use their brooms to sweep eight oversized pucks known as stones across the ice towards the center, or "button," of a goal known as the "house."

The drama comes from ice droplets known as "pebbles" that form on the ice causing the stones to deviate or "curl" off a straight path. Also, there's a lot of shouting.

Related: Norway's Olympic Curling Team Shows Off Pants

Ice Dancing

Ice dancing is another Winter Olympic enigma. It's like ballroom dancing on ice with lots of lifts and spins but no throws or jumps. Some people question its status as an Olympic sport, but there's no denying its sequined fabulousness. Besides, The U.S. team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis are the reigning world champions and favored to take home the gold in Sochi.

PHOTO: Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams of Canada perform their routine at the Ice Dance Free Dance event at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 23, 2014, in Taipei, Taiwan.
Victor Fraile/Getty Images
Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams of Canada perform their routine at the Ice Dance Free Dance event at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 23, 2014, in Taipei, Taiwan.

Figure Skating Team Event

It's graceful, it's athletic – and now figure skating is a team sport. Right before the games, 10 nations will name one representative each from men's and women's singles, pairs and yes, ice dance skaters. Throughout the games, all scores from every program will be added into a single tally. The team with the highest score wins gold. Create your own brackets and follow along.

PHOTO: Jason Brown reacted after skating in Group 4. The mens free skate of the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships took place at the TD Garden in Boston, Jan. 12, 2014.
Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
Jason Brown reacted after skating in Group 4. The men's free skate of the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships took place at the TD Garden in Boston, Jan. 12, 2014.

Related: Big Upset for Figure Skater

Ski Halfpipe

Ski halfpipe is one of three new ski events to makes its Olympic debut in Sochi. It works exactly the same way as snowboard halfpipe with two routines of flips, jumps and turns on a 22 foot high curved ramp. Skiers can grab up to 20 feet of air and perform up to five tricks per run.

PHOTO: Jamie Anderson soars en route to a silver medal in the womens snowboard slopestyle Winter X-Games 2014 at Buttermilk Mountain on Jan. 25, 2014 in Aspen, Colo.
Chris Council/Getty Images
Jamie Anderson soars en route to a silver medal in the women's snowboard slopestyle Winter X-Games 2014 at Buttermilk Mountain on Jan. 25, 2014 in Aspen, Colo.

Snowboard Slopestyle

If skiers can boogie on a halfpipe, boarders can fly down the slopes, because why not inject a little X Games into the Olympics? Competitors navigate 3 obstacles called jibs and 3 jump areas. They're scored based on the judge's overall impression of the quality of their tricks factoring in speed, height, variety and difficulty of jumps and whether or not they stick the landing.

PHOTO: Maddie Bowman makes a hit during the womens ski halfpipe final , Jan. 24, 2014.
Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty Images
Maddie Bowman makes a hit during the women's ski halfpipe final , Jan. 24, 2014.

Biathlon Mixed Relay

With more than a billion TV spectators each season, biathlon is the most viewed sport in Europe according to Max Cobb, the chief executive officer of U.S. Biathlon Association. And just in case watching athletes stop to shoot a rifle before racing away on cross country skis doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat, the Sochi Olympics has added a new mixed relay event involving the top two men and women from each competing country.

Typically, Norway, Russia, France and Germany dominate the sport. But in the relay, Cobb said that the U.S. and Slovenia could medal.

PHOTO: Martin Fourcade of France takes 1st place during the IBU Biathlon World Cup Mens and Womens Relay, Jan. 19, 2014, in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.
Vianney Thibaut/Agence Zoom/Getty Images
Martin Fourcade of France takes 1st place during the IBU Biathlon World Cup Men's and Women's Relay, Jan. 19, 2014, in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.

Luge Mixed Relay

Mixed Luge Relay may be the sleeper hit of this Olympics, claims Sandy Caligiore, the spokesman for the U.S. Luge Association.

Here's how it works: Each nation puts in one team consisting of a men's, women's and mixed pair sled. First, the women's team screams down the long, tube-like track reaching speeds over 70 miles per hour. When the sled reaches the bottom, a team member sits up and smacks a yellow pad to signal the men's team to go. When they hit the bottom, the mixed pair sled takes the anchor run.

In general the Germans own luge, said Caligiore. But thanks to start flubs, crashes and failures to hit the pad properly, the relay is anyone's race.

PHOTO: Samuel Edney of Canada hits the touch pad during the Team Relay competition on day 2 of the Viessmann Luge World Cup event at Utah Olympic Park, Dec. 14, 2013, in Park City, Utah.
Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
Samuel Edney of Canada hits the touch pad during the Team Relay competition on day 2 of the Viessmann Luge World Cup event at Utah Olympic Park, Dec. 14, 2013, in Park City, Utah.

Skeleton

In Luge, sliders fly down the track on their backs, feet first. Skeleton ups the ante by positioning athletes face down, face first -- on a sled the size of a cafeteria tray. It's terrifying, exhilarating, and the Brits are jolly good at it. England is the only country to have won a skeleton medal each of the five times the event has been held at the Winter Olympics, according to the BBC. Both their men's and woman's teams look good to medal in Sochi.

PHOTO: Michaela Glaesser of the Czech Republic competes in the last race of the womens skeleton World Cup season in Schoenau, Germany, on Jan. 24, 2014.
Christop Stache/AFP/Getty Images
Michaela Glaesser of the Czech Republic competes in the last race of the women's skeleton World Cup season in Schoenau, Germany, on Jan. 24, 2014.

Skijoring

Skijoring made its one and only Olympic appearance in the 1928 as an exhibition sport at the St. Moritz, Switzerland games. As one of only two winter Olympic equestrian sports in history, it's rules defy description. And it's definitely ready for a comeback.

PHOTO: A ski joring racer competes in the White Turf horse racing event in St. Moritz, Feb. 3, 2013.
Boris Heger/AFP/Getty Images
A ski joring racer competes in the White Turf horse racing event in St. Moritz, Feb. 3, 2013.

Related: Cameron Mathison Goes 'Skijoring'

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...