The Winter Olympics begin this weekend, and we know what that means. It’s time to be inundated with a bunch of sports you haven’t watched since the last Winter Olympics. With all these unknown sports, the question becomes “which are these random things are worth watching?” To help everyone out with that, I present this primer on the events, ranked in order of how interesting they are, at least in my opinion.
1. Ice Hockey Hockey has an obvious advantage in being the only sport in the Games with any relevance outside of 2 weeks every 4 years. Still, the Olympic hockey tournament is the greatest collection of talent you’ll see (look at the rosters of Canada and Russia, yikes), and they don’t lack motivation playing for their country. An already exciting, fast paced game gets turned up another notch in Olympic play, and the result in the top event of the Winter Games. The women’s tournament gets a bit lost in the shuffle, and early it can get boring because of how top heavy it is, but if Team USA and Canada face off, watch out.
2. Short Track Speed Skating Thanks to Apolo Ohno, short track has hit the American consciousness, and I hope that when’s he gone, its stays. Short track is basically a demolition derby on ice, with frequent crashes and disqualifications. Anything that can produce a result like Steven Bradbury gets a thumbs up from me.
3. Alpine Skiing The most traditional of the Winter Olympic events, alpine skiing is the best combination of speed and simplicity. In the downhill, skiers can top 60 mph, and given some of the complicated scoring systems of sports lower on the list, it’s nice to see a simple objective like “ski down the mountain the fastest.” Thanks to the speeds and snowy and possibly icy surface, alpine skiing also has a high possibility of large crashes.
4. Speed Skating Again, simplicity rules. Skate the fastest. Minus a few points for the skintight uniforms though.
5. Bobsleigh Of the three “go down a track of ice” sports, this gets my vote for the best because the bobsled looks like the funnest way to go down said track of ice. Also, the bobsleds aren’t just blurs on TV like lute and skeleton are. Bonus points for giving us the Jamaican bobsled team (who sadly did not qualify this year).
6. Ski Jumping I don’t know what would possess people to jump off a hill but skis, but damn if it doesn’t look kind of cool. Minus points because part of it is judged (mainly the landing), so it’s not just a simple “jump the farthest without falling down” competition. Bonus points for the possibility of an agony of defeat situation.
7. Luge As previously said, the biggest problem with luge is that they’re just a blur going down, so it’s impossible to tell if they’re doing well or why they’ve lost a medal by .06 seconds. Minus points for two-man luge, which is just uncomfortable for all involved.
8. Curling There isn’t a lot of middle ground with curling. One either finds it strangely hypnotic or the dumbest thing imaginable. I tend toward the former, but not enough to be at the edge of my seat for a whole match (are they even called curling matches?). What I have seen of it is surprisingly intense, so we’ll give them that.