Hi.

Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!

Winter Olympics Preview: The Sports

Winter Olympics Preview: The Sports

sochi-olympics-pictograms.png

(via labbrand.com) Once again, we find ourselves in that magical quadrennial sports paradise. No, not the Summer Olympics, but the Winter Olympics: a mecca of athletic achievement for sports that people compete in when it's too cold for more popular sports. With fourteen categories and dozens of different events over a two week period, how can one possibly know what to watch and why. From the marquee events, to the winter olympic staples, to the kind-of-sports to the definitely-not-sports, we're here to break it down for you:

1. "Miracle On Ice": The Marquee Event

Ice Hockey

If you don’t remember watching the gold-medal game from the Vancouver Olympics, starting a “U-S-A” chant in a bar at the game tying goal, only to shed tears at Canada's overtime victory, you might want to just double check your citizenship. This is the marquee winter team sport, being played in the region of the world that produced this guy.

Excitement/Watchability: 10

Relevance: 9

Unique to the Olympics: 3

Athletes To Watch: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, U-S-A, U-S-A, Danny Brown

Summer Olympic Equivalent: Basketball

2. "Is It Shaun White's Turn Yet?": Winter Olympic Staples

Snowboarding

Remember when this happened with Louie Vito, and it reminded everyone that there were athletes besides Shaun White who competed in the Snowboard Superpipe event? Well, NBC probably doesn't. This is one of those events where even when they're airing other events and even though he has cut his event schedule down to one event, NBC will put a warning graphic on the bottom-right of the screen alerting you to exactly how long it will be until Shaun White competes. It might be worth taking a drink everytime: Shaun White gets mentioned during another event, Shaun White's haircut is mentioned, an announcer brings up just how much air he gets, someone brings up how he skipped the X Games, someone asks a question along the lines of "just how much longer can he do this for?" Look out for Danny Davis, Louie Vito or Greg Bretz to try to steal his, NBC, and the women of America's thunder.

Excitement/Watchability: 9

Relevance: 8

Unique to the Olympics: 6

Athletes To Watch: Shaun White, Danny Davis, Shaun White, Louie Vito, Shaun White's Haircut, Greg Bretz, Shaun White, NBC's Coverage of Shaun White, Shaun White

Summer Olympics Equivalent: The 100m Sprint in Track and Field

Short Track Speed Skating

A high-adrenaline sport with rules that make little sense, where crashes are common and the suits look like they came from a sci-fi movie. Also worth noting that the Olympic pictogram for the event looks like four egg cells being pollinated next to a row of three teeth.

Excitement/Watchability: 10

Relevance: 5

Unique to the Olympics: 8

Athletes To Watch: Not Apolo Anton Ohno

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Fencing

Speed Skating

Ah, the purer, cleaner Speed Skating category. This features none of the crashes, nonsense rules, or absurd pictograms of Short Track Speed Skating, but rather features the fastest skaters in the world demonstrating exemplary focus, drive and technique. Expect NBC to air this as little as possible.

Excitement/Watchability: 7

Relevance: 9

Unique to the Olympics: 8

Athletes To Watch: Shani Davis

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Track and Field

Figure Skating

Figure Skating has some of the best all-around commentary in the game. If you know the difference between an axel, and a toe loop, you're basically a pro. For the rest of us, just listen to the commentary and roll with it, your girlfriend will appreciate it.

Excitement/Watchability: 8

Relevance: 8

Unique to the Olympics: 8

Athletes To Watch: Jeremy Abbott

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Gymnastics

Alpine Skiing

Ah, skiers. Something about racing down powder-covered mountains on pieces of carbon fiber seems to breed a special kind of controversial personality, both at the professional level, and at the... err... university level. Regardless, this is one of the most fast-paced, exciting events of the Olympics and is a staple of the games.

Excitement/Watchability: 9

Relevance: 8

Unique to the Olympics: 7

Athletes To Watch: Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Swimming

3. "That's A Cool Idea for a Sport": Sports That No One Pays Attention To Outside of The Olympics

Cross Country Skiing

Hey, remember that exciting, adrenaline-filled sport where people race down a snow-covered hill on waxed pieces of carbon-fiber? What if we take away the hill, the speed and the adrenaline and make it about always-thrilling attributes like endurance and proper technique? Sound good?

Excitement/Watchability: 2

Relevance: 3

Unique to the Olympics: 7

Athletes To Watch: Bjorks, Samuelsons, Fredericks, Johansens, Larsens and Karlsens

Summer Olympic Equivalent: Cycling

Luge/Skeleton

These are technically two separate sports (luge is feet-first, skeleton is head-first), which raises two pretty valid questions. First, since when does doing the exact same activity in a slightly different positions qualify as two separate sports? And more importantly, who looked a luge, a sport where you zip down an ice track, unprotected, at death-defying speeds and decided that it needed to be more dangerous? Also, can someone please explain how you do this for the first time?[1]

Excitement/Watchability: 9

Relevance: 6

Unique to the Olympics: 9

Athletes To Watch: Any of them that survive

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Weightlifting, because you either come out of it uninjured or catastrophically injured

Bobsled

The Eli Manning to luge’s Peyton Manning. The John Quincy Adams to luge’s John Adams. This slower, heavier sibling of luge will be perhaps the most frustrating sport to watch during the Olympics because one of your fellow viewers will inevitably bring up that shitty 90’s Disney movie about the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and this hurts its watchability score a lot. This is especially true this year because the Jamaican bobsled team is making a return to the Olympics, and oh my god, have you seen that movie with John Candy, isn’t it just so inspirational and OH MY GOD, IT’S LIKE TOTALLY HAPPENING AGAIN!

Excitement/Watchability: 3

Relevance: 5

Unique to the Olympics: 8

Athletes To Watch: JAMAICANS!

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Canoeing and Kayaking

Ski Jumping

Ski Jumping has been an Olympic sport since 1924. Or, to be more exact, men’s ski jumping has been an Olympic sport since 1924. In a bizarre, ongoing battle, women’s ski jumping was not added to the Olympics until this year. The logic behind this? A belief that it could be dangerous to women’s reproductive health.

Don’t worry, though, the research behind this theory dates back to the ever-reliable Victorian Era, and if there’s one thing the Victorian Era is known for, it’s their extensive knowledge of science or pretty much anything else. Donald Walker, who was apparently a respected scientist in 1836, described that ski jumping needed to be outlawed for women in order to protect their, "peculiar function of multiplying the species," in his book Physical Exercises for Ladies. Although, it might not be much of a surprise that a guy who spent two years researching and writing a book called Physical Exercises for Ladies found “multiplying the species” to be “peculiar”.

Sometime in the last four years, though, someone must have pointed out that Skeleton is a legal sport, because the committee seems to have changed their mind and allowed women at last to break through the glass ceiling of competing in a moderately dangerous sport that poses identical risk for men and women.

Despite this bizarre saga, ski jumping scores major points for being, well, exciting as fuck, and for passing the “something I could never even imagine doing” test, as well as the “how does anyone ever do that for the first time?” test.

Excitement/Watchability: 8

Relevance: 5

Unique to the Olympics: 8

Athletes To Watch: Women ruining their reproductive health

Nordic Combined

Ski Jumping meets Cross Country Skiing. In other words, two completely different different skills involving the same category of equipment. That's like making a sport that combines tennis and soccer just because they both involve balls.

Excitement/Watchability: 9

Relevance: 6

Unique to the Olympics: 9

Athletes To Watch: Probably Nordic people

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Swimming and Diving together as one sport, just because they both involve water

4. "You Might As Well Put Chess in the Olympics": Sports That Are Definitely Not Sports

Ice Dancing

This is an Olympic sport.

Excitement/Watchability: 5, but more of a "Grammy excitement" than an "NFL excitement"

Relevance: 1

Unique to the Olympics: 11

Athletes To Watch: James Brown, Michael Jackson, Fred Astaire

Summer Olympic Equivalent: Water Motorsports (defunct since 1908 [2]), Rhythmic Gymnastics

5. "Sharknado": So Ridiculous That It's Actually Entertaining

Biathlon

Quick, which two winter sports do you think make up the biathlon? Yep, you guessed it, cross country skiing and riflery, the bread and butter of athletics. I’m sure that there’s some historical reason why these two highly complimentary skills exist together as an event. I’m sure of that because that is the only fucking way that this sport could come about.

Excitement/Watchability: 7

Relevance: 2

Unique to the Olympics: 9

Athletes To WatchLanny Barnes, Dick Cheney

Summer Olympics Equivalent: Archery combined with Cycling (hopefully that contextualizes how ridiculous this event is)

Curling

The sport that everyone loves to hate, and frankly, the jokes write themselves on this one, so I’m not going to. Instead, let me give you one firm reason why you should be watching curling this year: this video of curling set to “Eye Of The Tiger”

Excitement/Watchability: 2

Relevance: 2

Unique to the Olympics: 7

Athletes to Watch: Norwegians come in as heavy favorites, given that the real competition has to do with who has the most decorative pants

Summer Olympic Equivalent: Table Tennis


[1] Other things that raise this question include: riding a motorcycle, landing on an aircraft carrier and ski jumping

[2] Raising a very important question: how were water motorsports done in 1908?

No One Sure Why They Went to The Deuce Last Night

No One Sure Why They Went to The Deuce Last Night

An Ode to Flappy Bird (in Sonnet Form)

An Ode to Flappy Bird (in Sonnet Form)