While most people are at least somewhat familiar with the Summer Olympics sports — swimming, running, basketball — there are a few in the Winter Games you’ve probably never tried.
As Robin Williams put it, the biathlon is “the Norwegian drive-by” — and it does have its roots in military cross-training. Take cross-country skiing, mix with rifle sharpshooting, and voila — you’ve got an Olympic sport.
While the name might be a bit off-putting, skeleton is certain to provide an adrenaline rush for its athletes, called “sliders.” Grab an oversized skateboard, get a running start, then lie on your stomach on said skateboard and try to stay on course as you rocket down the track.
The only thing more worrisome than the luge (same as skeleton, but on your back instead of stomach) is the two-person luge — stack one slider on top of the other and it’s now a team sport, where the athlete on the bottom apparently can’t even see where he or she is going.
For X Games fans, freestyle skiing might be your new favorite Olympic sport. Tricks include the twister (upper body turns one way, lower body goes the opposite direction), spread-eagle, iron cross (the skier brings both skis behind him/her in midair to form a cross), and the helicopter (an upright 360-degree spin).
The Nordic combined is another fine example of how much those Scandinavians love their skiing. The “combining” is adding ski jumps to cross-country skiing.
Like many other winter sports, curling is played on ice. Two teams take turns pushing 42-pound stones toward a series of concentric rings (a bull’s-eye), to get them as close to the center as possible. One game consists of 10 “ends” (think baseball innings). Each four-person team “throws” (slides on the ice) two stones per person. Team members sweep the ice clean in front of each stone to control its direction (its “curl”) and speed. The team with the most points — more stones closer to the center rings — after 10 ends wins.
Information about air times for these and other sports can be found at www.vancouver2010.com.