Balls Out: What to Watch in the 2014 Winter Olympics

Being a big track and field fanatic, in addition to big summer sport fan, the Winter Olympics are not the ones that get me really excited. Although it’s really awesome to watch the figure skating, the skiing, etc., those are just events that I cannot relate to at all, having grown up in the desolate Arizona desert. So, I have decided to research the really obscure events that I plan on watching for kicks this February.

*Disclaimer: to be clear, I am not in any way writing this to be disrespectful to the Winter Olympic games, as I have the utmost respect for all individuals who dedicate their lives to a passion to achieve this event. I merely am providing options for those of us who aren’t quite sure what we want to watch.

First is the biathlon. This event—combining cross country skiing and shooting—appears to me to have been taken straight out of a video game. Athletes are supposed to ski a course, and pause at various points to take five shots at a target and continue loops. All targets missed are added as seconds the final time and, the fastest time wins. A fairly random test of athletic aptitude in my opinion, but worth watching.

Next up is the Skeleton. In this adrenaline based event one merely has to hurl oneself down an icy hill, laying down—face first and get to the bottom in the fastest amount of time. The catch, however is that the sled has no brakes, no steering, and can travel about 80 miles per hour. I very much enjoy watching sports that I cannot imagine how in the world the athlete I am witnessing began sacrificing their life to such an unusual sporting endeavor.

Last, but definitely not least in my book is speed skating. A millennium ago, some people from the now-a-days Netherlands strapped some bones to their shoes to get across some water. Then, in the 16th century a skating club formed, soon after to include speed skating. That’s a long time ago, so the sport has the history going for it. Additionally, the world record for the speed skating 5000 meter event (3.1 miles) is 6 minutes and 3 seconds which equates to 30.78 miles per hour of sharp turns and ice. The 5K is a very popularly contested sport in running, with the average high school boy’s time being around 17 minutes. It is literally unfathomable to me to travel that fast for that long of a time—therefore, I must watch it.