Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winter Olympic Events

[update: for new events in the 2014 Olympics, click here.]

Okay, I said to my husband last night that they should really do like a 1-hour special near the beginning of the Olympics (and maybe rerun it late night throughout the Games) that goes over what all of the events are and how they're scored. For instance, we've been having a devil of a time teaching ourselves how curling works, and the fact that "biathlon" is cross-country skiing + shooting was complete news to me. And I've been watching the Olympics for twenty years.

So, I thought I'd do a tiny bit of work on this, and go over what the 84 events in the Winter Olympic Games are. This list is valid for the 2010 Olympics, as some events change, get added, etc. Now, the only real important thing that distinguishes these sports from being played at the Summer Games is that they are defined as "games which are practiced on snow or ice."

Alpine Skiing. This one covers downhill skiing, super giant slalom, giant slalom, slalom, and Alpine combined. Slalom gates are the closest together, so there's more turning. Giant Slalom gates are a little farther apart. Super Giant, aka Super G, has like half the number of gates as Giant Slalom and is a speed event, whereas the first two slaloms are technical events. Downhill is going as fast as you can, and they can top 80 mph! Combined is one downhill and two slaloms.

Biathlon. Several events... Sprint, Individual, Pursuit, Relay, Mass Start. Men's Sprint is 10k, Women's is 7.5k. Men's Individual is 20k, Women's is 15k. Men's Pursuit is 12.5k, Women's is 10k. Men's Relay is 4x7.5k, women's is 4x6k. Men's Mass Start is 15k, Women's is 12.5k. The Pursuit seems really unfair... the top 60 finishers in Sprint go... but the winner starts first, and each person behind him/her starts at the same interval as they finished after the winner the first time. The Mass Start (only its second Olympics to be an event) is the top 30 competitors from the first 4 events all starting at the same time. 15km for men, 12.5km for women.
Okay, in the midst of skiing, you stop and shoot a rifle (that you've been carrying on your back). Sometimes you lay down and shoot at a 40mm target 5 times, sometimes you stand up and shoot at a 115mm target 5 times. For each shot you miss, you have to do a short penalty loop before getting back on the main track.

Bobsled. Four-man, two-man, and two-woman. The women's event has only been around since 2002. You ride in the cart down the track as fast as you can.

Cross-Country Skiing. Sprint, Team Sprint, Pursuit, Relays. Pursuit is 30k for men and 15k for women. The Relays are 4x10k for men and 4x5k for women. The Mass Start for men is 50k, women is 30k.

Curling. First it's round-robin-style, where all of the men's teams play eachother (same with women's teams). The top 4 rated teams (and there's tie-breakers if needed) then play 1 game each. The two winners from those games then play eachother for the gold. The two losers play eachother for the bronze.

Figure Skating. Singles (Men's & Women's events), Pairs, Ice Dancing. 30 people can compete in a singles event; 20 pairs; 24 ice dancing couples. 80% of those slots are based on how you did at the previous year's World Figure Skating Championship. You have to be fifteen years old by the previous July to compete. In Singles, there's Short Program (two minutes, fifty seconds with certain required moves) and Free Skate (four minutes for women, four and a half for men, no required moves). In Pairs, there's also Short Program and Free Skate. In Ice Dancing, there's Compulsory Dance (every couple does the same moves to the same tempo), Free Dance (4 minutes long, give or take 10 seconds, choose your moves) and Original Dance (you can pick your song and choreography, but there's a set tempo range).

Freestyle Skiing. Moguls, Aerials, Skicross. Moguls are the bumpy tracks where you keep your knees together as you go down... until you hit 2 ramps and do tricks. Aerials are when you ski down, go up a ramp, somersault and twist around, then land. Skicross is new, and is a race, so there's no subjectivity. First, every person goes individually and the top times move on. Then, 4 people go at a time, navigating crazy terrain.

Ice Hockey. For Men: there used to be 5 preliminary games, now there's only 3. The top 4 teams go to the quarterfinals, while the remaining 8 teams play for the other 4 slots. Then, normal playoffs. For Women: there are 3 preliminary games, so for the 8 qualifying teams, they're split into 2 groups and you play everyone in your group. Then the top 2 teams from each group play for the medals while the rest play for classifications.

Luge. Singles for both sexes; men's double, although in theory it can be a mixed double. You lay down, feet first and face-up, on a little sled as you head down a track as fast as you can.

Nordic Combined. This one is actually for men only... and there's normal hill, large hill, and team. Cross-country ski for 10k, and a ski jump. Combined score wins, and there's a system for the math. Team is 4x5k.

Short Track Speed Skating. 3 individual events and then relays. The rink is 60m x 30m (ice hockey size), and you go around as fast as you can... generally 4 skaters at a time. 500m, 1000m, 1500m lengths for individuals, and 5000m for relay.

Skeleton. One men's and one women's events. You lay on the sled headfirst, face-down, and go as fast as you can down the track.

Ski Jumping. Again, only for men. But this one is being avidly lobbied for women as well. This year there was small hill, large hill, and Team large hill. Small Hill is 260-330 foot markings, Large Hill is 390-430 feet markings, and Team gives each of the 4 members 2 jumps each on the large hill.

Snowboarding. Half-pipe, Snowboard Cross, and parallel Giant Slalom. Half-pipe is the giant curved slope they go down and perform tricks at the top of each side. Snowboard Cross is a race where they go down 4 at a time in bumps and other crazy terrains. Parallel Giant Slalom is two snowboarders going down at the same time, zigzagging through the gates.

Speed Skating. 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m for men and women. Men also have a 10,000m. The track is big, like a 400m oval instead of the 111m oval in short track. And there's a team pursuit.

So, this is really only a basic run-down. There's a lot about scoring I didn't include, but my main goal was just to distinguish the different events from one another, and help everyone to understand a little bit about them. Hope I helped! :)
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