THE WEIRDEST WINTER OLYMPICS

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Deep in the slums of winter, could it be that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? Folks…the Winter Olympics are here! If you don’t get a little giddy at that tidbit of information, then you’ve probably never “done” the Olympics the right way before. The right way, in my ever-so-humble opinion, is with plenty of snacks and the readiness to scoff if your favorite figure skating routine gets snubbed by a snarky judge (the controversy!!!). It’s truly sports television at its finest.

The 2018 Winter Olympics (or more formerly, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games) is being held February 9 – 25 in PyeongChang County, South Korea. Over 90 teams are expected to compete, meaning that athletes from all over the world will have the chance to represent their country on a global stage. This is the stuff popcorn poppers dream of –– the perfect entertainment to pair with munching. However, not all events were made for primetime television. Some appear at odd hours or don’t get the screen time they deserve due to the fact that…well, some Olympic events are just downright weird. Case in point:

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Biathlon

This is an Olympic sport that gets its fair share of poking and prodding, with plenty of comedians using it at the star in their Olympic-centric bits. Once you understand what the sport entails, it’s pretty easy (once you also stop scratching your head) to see why it’s often the cause of a few laughs. The sport combines cross-country skiing with shooting a gun –– melding two seemingly unrelated skills together to test endurance, patience, and accuracy. There are many different versions of the Biathlon present at the Olympics, such as pursuit starts, mass starts, relay races, mixed relays, and more. During these events, athletes will ski a set distance carrying a rifle on their back, and then at certain points throughout the race, they will take aim at a target or set of targets. In some events, if an athlete has a certain number of misses, they will have an additional distance added onto their race. It’s an interesting sport to say the least.

Luge

Luge

Ah, the luge. I believe I watched a Jerry Seinfeld bit once where he alluded to the fact that the luge is the only Olympic sport in which you could take involuntary people from the street and replace the Olympic athletes and the event would, more or less, be the same. Of course, I mean no offense to luge athletes –– I’m sure there are many technicalities involved that look ordinary to the untrained eye. If you’re not sure what the luge is, I would first think of an extreme version of sledding. Here, the athletes lie flat on their back in a sled that’s specially made to swoop and slide down an icy track (complete with drama-filled curves), where many hit near 100 miles-per-hour. The goal: look killer in your aerodynamic outfit, go fast, and don’t crash. I volunteer as tribute! 

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Short-track Speed Skating

Okay, forget what you think you know about skating at the Olympics. You might have seen I, Tonya, and feel confident about holding up your “7” during most numbers, but this is an altogether different beast. The Daily Hive summed it up nicely it their article, calling it “NASCAR racing on ice.”

Racers speed around a track here, on a piece of ice that is not much larger than a standard hockey rink. There are shorter sprints and longer sprints (much like in track), as well as relay races. Skaters stay low (and likely light their quads on fire) as they zoom around the circle as fast as possible without breaking any of the rules such as going off-track, impeding another skaters, having a false start, or unsportsmanlike conduct. Full-speed ahead. 

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Curling

Honestly, I almost didn’t put curling on the list, because even with the preface of it being a weird sport, it’s baffling to explain. I had it on in the background for at least an hour the other day, and still my question is: WHAT IS CURLING?! It’s the basis of a lot of memes is all I know for sure.

In all seriousness, the object of curling is to get the stones down the sheet (the icy playing surface) as close to the middle of the targets at the end as possible. There are tiny droplets of water along the sheet that turn to ice and make it harder to keep the stones on a straight path –– yep, the stones are the reason for the sweeping. If you want to know more of the nitty gritty details, you’ll have to resort to someone who gets it. (Hint: not me.)

You can tune into the Winter Olympics on NBC (weird sports and all)! The full schedule can be found here: http://www.nbcolympics.com/full-schedule

 

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