Olympics, Winter

Re-Ranking the Winter Olympic Sports

2/23/14 in Olympics, Winter   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Four years ago, just prior to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I ranked the sports in the Winter Games. Blog Photo - Re-Ranking the Winter Olympic SportsWith Vancouver and now Sochi concluded, it's time to revisit those rankings.

1. Ice Hockey No other Winter Olympic sport has the combination of star power (at least for now) and quality of play. Here's hoping we get the NHL players in 2018.

2. Curling I made a big mistake last time ranking this at #8. Curling is awesome, and I couldn't wait to watch it when I got home each day. It's fun to slowly understand what is going on the match progress. Plus, look at some of these women (like the pictured Great Britain curler Anna Sloan)

3. Short Track Speed Skating It's too bad that without Apolo Ohno, the US team wasn't good enough to get this on primetime, because it's still as wild and whacky as ever.

4. Biathlon No, this sport did not move up just because of the screaming NBC guy. I found myself watching the live streams. When you think about it, it's incredible how these athletes can push themselves in such a cardiovascular activity as cross country skiing, then quiet their bodies and hearts enough to shoot a gun with such accuracy. The shooting portion gives it a lot of drama, as yesterday's men's relay showed. My only question is why aren't we better at this? We love guns.

These four are the sports I'd most likely watch in a context outside of the Olympics.

5. Bobsleigh It just looks so cool to actually do. It helps on TV that they're a little slower than the other sliding sports, so you can actually see the sled and not just a blur.

6. Alpine Skiing This sport can be evilly cruel and random, which isn't a surprise given the speeds and the uncertain surface that always changes. Still, it gets points for being the king traditional sport of the Winter Games.

7. Speed Skating If we were Dutch, this would be #1. Speed skating has it dull moments, but on good runs with the crowd into it, it can get exciting.

8. Skeleton People who do this are crazy, but it seems a little less predictable than its feet first counterpart.

9. Luge The big negative on the sliding sports is how infrequently the standings change from run to run. Still, they are visually stunning, and they got points from me this year for having Leigh Diffey (NBC's voice of IndyCar and Formula One) calling the events.

10. Cross-Country Skiing The mass start events can be exciting if there's a sprint finish. The races that are against the clock are quite dull.

11. Snowboarding Yeah, I'm old at heart. What they do is incredible, but I have trouble getting interested. It didn't help that Todd Harris was the NBC commentator this year.

12. Nordic Combined I appreciating the randomness of it all, but unless the cross country ends in a finish that lets the NBC guy scream, meh.

13. Ski Jumping Yeah, I ranked this event way too high last time. Anyone who ski jumps deserves respect, but once you've seen a few jumps, you've essentially seen them all.

14. Freestyle Skiing Like snowboarding, it just doesn't grab me. Plus, aerials gives me a squicky "I'm about to watch someone get seriously hurt" vibe.

15. Figure Skating I'm pretty confident this ranking will never change.

What are your rankings for the Winter Olympic sports?
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2/24/14   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

This is fun...

I've broken down some of the sports because there are some events in the discipline that are entertaining to watch and others that are not.

All the worst events for me are the events that require someone besides the athlete to determine how well they did.  Which means Figure skating, judged snowboard events and freestyle skiing are all tied for the lowest spot on the list.

14.  Ski Jump.  How could this be so low?  Because part of the scoring system is how well the jumpers LOOK when doing this.  In my opinion it should be judged 100% on distance in the air.  The judging portion ruins what could be a spectacular event.

13.  Nordic combined.  Multi discipline sports are generally good in my book.  But since the ski jump is part of this, that means part of this competition is judged.  A no-no for my taste.

12.  Slalom.  Classic Winter games event.  But I personally do not like the slow speeds requred to make the gates.

11.  Cross Country Skiing.  Nice event.  The longer races I think are more Cross Country-y but as a viewer I like the shorter ones better.

10.  Speed Skating.  Nice races.  Good wintery timed race.  Again, I prefer the shorter races to the longer ones... 

9.  Short Track speed skating.  A little more chaotic and slightly more confusing than the traditional speed skating.  Which to me makes it a little more fun to watch.

8.  Biathlon.  GREAT multi disciplined sport.  Have always wished America did better here...

7.  Giant Slalom & Super G.  These two similar races are sort of in between downhill and slalom.  Which makes them more watchable than the slalom.

6.  Alpine Combined.  Again, multi disciplined event that includes one of the top events of the games...  Downhill.

8.  Curling.  For some reason when I stumble across this sport when it's aired I just get hooked.  It has a number of interesting elements...  Direct competition, strategy, skill...

5.  Snowboard parallel slalom and giant slalom.  The direct competition nature of this is what makes it fun.  But then there's...

4.  Snowboard Cross.  I REALLY like snowboard cross.  It's like the short track speed skating but down a hill with obstacles.  And who could forget that woman who showboated at the end of her race 8 years ago?  

3..  The sledding events.  Bobsleigh, Luge & Skelton.  All tremendously fun to watch. 

2.  Downhill.  Classic.  Fast.  Really fun to watch.

1.  Of course, the Hockey tournament is THE event of the games.  This would be true even if the NHLers were not there.  (Which I am hoping they aren't 4 years from now).  I also prefer the larger ice surface of the international game and the zero tolerance for fighting.  When I watch any international tournament using the international rules it just makes me wish the NHL followed suit.  I think the game would be better off for it.
 
There is an event that was on the program once (In 1992 as a demonstration sport) but never reappeared...   Speed Skiing.  Boy was that impressive!  Skiers just pointed themselves straight down with no turns and attempted to go as fast as possible on a 1 Kilometer hill.  The winner was the one who had the fasted speed in the 100 meter "speed zone".  It was awesome!