EPA/Larry W. Smith
This year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, despite delays in the alpine skiing events because of dangerous winds, has already brought thrills and excitement.
Some of the top athletes in the world, from 92 countries, are competing in 15 different sports. It’s difficult who or what to spotlight, but following are some of the more intriguing, lesser-known sports.
Luge involves sleds that can hold one to two people. The athlete hops on the sled, feet first, then steers the sled by using her or his calf muscles to flex the sled’s runners or by exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat. Lugers can reach speeds up to 87 miles per hour and are only protected by their helmets.
Skeleton is much like luge but the riding position is reversed. In skeleton, there is only one rider and the athlete rides on the sled head first and on her or his stomach. The name of the sport originated from the bony appearance of the sled. Riders reach speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Like luge, the goal of skeleton is to get the fastest time down a refrigerated ice track. These athletes also wear little to no protection and a crash can be devastating.
Curling is a lot like the classic game of shuffleboard, but it is highly competitive and more difficult in that participants must anticipate opponents’ moves, much like in chess. In curling, players slide a 42-pound stone across a sheet of ice toward a target area, which is separated into four circles. The closer to the middle of the target the stone is, the more points a team gets.
A full team consists of four players; one player slides the stone, and the other three players, using special brooms, scrub and sweep the ice in front of the stone to guide and curl it toward the target.
This year, mixed doubles was introduced and the Canadian pair of Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris won the gold.