In Pyeongchang, South Korea, the best athletes in the world are preparing to crush it for two solid weeks at the 2018 winter Olympics, which begin on Friday, Feb. 9. But are you ready? Do you know the difference between luge and bobsleighing? Snowboarding and freestyle skiing? Ski jumping and Nordic combined? For those of us who don't happen to live in Alps, the sports of ice and snow can be difficult to keep straight. Because the Olympics are always more fun with a little knowledge under your belt, here's the complete list of 2018 sports at the winter Olympics.
This year, I'll be rooting especially hard for the U.S. Men's Figure Skating team, which features the first openly-gay figure skater in team history, according to Elite Daily. But I won't limit myself to just the events that glitter — not this time.
Next week, I'll broaden my horizons with women's ski jumping, an Olympic sport in which women have only been allowed to participate since 2014, and skeleton, in which athletes launch themselves onto tiny sleds at mind-blowing speeds. I'm more than pumped for snowboarding, which combines the thrills of elite athleticism with the white knuckles of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. I mean, are they invincible? Probably. So let the games begin.
Watching this combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting is a bit like watching a Bond movie — or maybe 007 On Ice. Men and women will compete in the sprint, individual, pursuit, mass start, and relay.
While the U.S. team looks promising this year, Sports Illustrated noted that biathlon is the only sport in which the U.S. has never medalled.
This Olympics, three Nigerian-American women will be the first people from an African nation to compete in a bobsleighing event, reported ESPN. If that sounds like the plot of a movie you watched on snow days as a child, well, you're right. Just know that a more woke Hollywood is destined to make this story into an even better film than Cool Runnings. There are also three opportunities to medal in bobsleighing.
It seems that literally everyone is talking about Jesse Diggins, a U.S. women's cross-country ski team member with a good chance of medaling. In fact, the women's team as a whole is stronger than the men's, as NBC reported, which is pretty exciting. There are 12 cross-country skiing events.
Curling is possibly the strangest sport (to American eyes, at least) at the winter games. If it looks a bit silly, ask yourself this — could you guide a 44-pound granite stone down a sheet of ice with a broom?
You can read up on the rules of curling over at Olympic.org. There will be three opportunities to medal.
Is an explanation of this beautiful sport really necessary? With five events, figure skating is destined to be a huge draw at the 2018 winter Olympics, and I, for one, can't wait. Tune in for men's single skating, women's single skating, ice dancing, pair skating, and a team event.
Here's how Olympic.org described the many components of freestyle skiing: "Freestyle skiing combines speed, showmanship, and the ability to perform aerial manouevres whilst skiing." So basically, it's the entire winter Olympics in a nutshell. There are 10 dizzying events.
Now I know you've seen ice hockey before, but truly, it takes on an entirely different dimension at the winter Olympics. Maybe it's national pride, maybe it's the gorgeous stadium ... in any case, prepare to be awed during two ice hockey events.
Long Track Speed Skating
A lot like short track speed skating — only the tracks are longer. According to the Team USA site, U.S. athletes excel in this sport, and have brought home 67 medals, including 29 golds. If you watch the Olympics to cry when the National Anthem plays over the loud speakers, then this is your sport.
With five Olympic events, the luge is an old, basically terrifying sport in which one or two people — there are single and double events — crowd onto a small sled and try to steer it down an icy tunnel with their calf muscles. Are you into it?
Ever wonder what might happen if you combined ski jumping with an alpine race? Well, friends, the Nordic combined is what would happen. I'll be tuning in to watch U.S. team member Bryan Fletcher, a childhood cancer survivor and major contender to medal. With three events.
Short Track Speed Skating
With 10 events for men and women, athletes will whip around tracks ranging from 500 meters to 1500 meters. This event is strangely addictive to watch — remember Apolo Ohno?
What is skeleton, you ask? First, athletes push a 70-pound sled as hard as they can before wedging their body on top of a sled. At super velocity, they race down a tube. It's an incredible sport to watch, and it's also, as The New York Times explained, vicious in the demands it places on the human body. There will be two opportunities to medal.
If there's any justice in this world, all eyes will be trained on the U.S. Women's Ski Jumping team who valiantly fought for years to see their sport included in the Olympics. Men were always allowed to ski jump, but for women, the sport was considered too dangerous. The International Olympic Committee excluded them completely until the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Let me tell you, the ladies on this team are truly remarkable. You can learn more about them and the fight for inclusion in the documentary Ready To Fly, which is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Did you know snowboarding was invented by a Hawaiian? Yup. A Hawaiian newspaper editor — who wrote under the name Sol Pluvius — started surfing some snow when he was on vacation in Chicago, according to The New York Times, and thus "snurfing" was born.
At the 2018 winter Olympics, there will be 10 snowboarding events, and spectators will witness the Olympic debut of big-air snowboarding, which The Times described as "the most beautiful, insane, stupid, dangerous, death-wishing, insane and beautiful sport ever perpetrated on innocent spectators." Cool, huh?
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.