Olympic Fever

Gay Lynn HillStudy Break

Have that post-Super Bowl, pre-March Madness empty feeling? At least for this year, it’s the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to the rescue! What’s great about them is that many events look like they were created by someone who said “hold my drink and watch this!” Let’s look at a few events that enjoy their close ups once every four years.

The luge dates back to the 16th century in Switzerland as a method of transportation. It wasn’t until 300 years later that the first luge tracks were built by Swiss hotel owners to cater for thrill-seeking tourists. An Olympic event since 1964, luge riders hurtle down a slippery ice track at great speed, relying on reflexes for steering, so they have no protection should they make an error.

If flying down a track on your back feet first isn’t exciting enough for you, skeleton sled racing provides added thrills because you go down the track head first. Skeleton sled racing owes it entire early history to St Moritz, Switzerland, and the famed Cresta Run, a natural ice skeleton racing toboggan track and home to the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club (men only, please). With a couple of appearances in 1928 and 1948, skeleton has been a part of the Olympics since 2002.

Adding firearms to cross-country skiing might seem dangerous, but the roots of the biathlon are rooted in survival skills practised in the snow-covered forests of Scandinavia, where people hunted on skis with rifles slung over their shoulders. Combining the power and aggression of cross-country skiing and the precision and calm of marksmanship, the biathlon has been a part the Olympics since 1960.

Snowboard events are the newest to the Winter Olympics (1998), and while it’s not a regulation for participants to say “dude” and “bruh”, the skill set needed to perform death-defying tricks cannot be understated. Ski jumping is very straightforward – ski down a hill, jump off the edge, and the person who goes the farthest wins. It’s a sport that’s been around for over two hundred years, traced to Norwegian citizen Ole Rye, who jumped 9.5m in 1808. A part of the Olympics since the first winter games in 1924, ski jumping was famously highlighted in the Wide World of Sports program intro as an example of “the agony of defeat”.

Which Winter Olympic event do you think is the most dangerous? Which one would you like to try? Be sure to share on our Facebook page.