Once every four years athletes gather from all across the globe to compete on snow and ice to take the gold medals in the Winter Olympics, but these sports are not just limited to the coldest regions of the planet: this event has taken place on three different continents in eleven countries with the first event occurring in 1924 in Chamonix, France. However, many consider the predecessor, the Nordic Games, to be the first true large-scale winter sports competition, and this began in 1901 and continued until the Winter Olympics overtook them in popularity, leading to their subsequent closure in 1926.
Today a range of sports disciplines are practiced and new ones continue to be added whenever popularity deems the sport worthy, provided the sport meets the criteria of the Winter Sports definition, which is “Sports which are practiced on snow or ice.” These sports are varied in number and type.
Alpine Skiing sees competitors sliding down snow-covered hills at high speeds on skis with fixed-heel bindings, this can be split down further into four separate disciplines including downhill, giant slalom, super giant slalom and slalom and competitors compete for the best times possible.
The Biathlon event is based around a combination of two disciplines including skiing and shooting, competitors must ski quickly between different shooting ranges before hitting targets accurately, depending on the shooting performance, extra points or time is added to the competitor.
Coming in four and two crew variants, the Bobsleigh event uses a sled of the same name to propel competitors around a track at high speed in order to gain the best time, although originally the sleigh included variants allowing as many as six people to ride, this was reduced to the two and four sized variants in the 1930s.
Known widely as one of the most demanding endurance sports to ever be conceived, Cross-Country Skiing utilizes a mix of dedicated technique and long-distance to test its competitor’s endurance by seeing their long-distance skiing prowess across a snowy terrain.
A game of control and accuracy, Curling sees competitors test their power control by sliding stones on ice towards a targeted area, sweepers ahead of the slid stone sweep a pathway to help regulate the stone’s speed and direction, among other things.
Figure Skating is often critically acclaimed as one of the most beautiful and skilful displays of movement and dance in the world, through a further split into four disciplines, including ice dancing, pair skating, men’s singles and ladies’ singles, the genre draws competitors to perform jumps, spins and lifts to artistically impress the judges.
Developed as a more artistic variant on the usual competitive type, Freestyle Skiing sees skiers perform tricky manoeuvres, dance-esque movements and even astoundingly huge jumps off of even bigger ramps, the sport can additionally be split down further into several variants including Freeskiing, Half-Pipe Skiing, Ski Ballet, Aerial Skiing, Slopestyle, Ski Cross and Mogul Skiing.
Often called the fastest game on earth, Ice Hockey sees a full-force competition with manoeuvres of blinding speeds, pinpoint accuracy and dedicated teamwork between all players on a team. The sport sees two teams trying to score points in goal zones, much like Football, Rugby and American Football, among other games, and each team must coordinate an offense and defence effectively in order to maximize their team’s strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
Luge is performed by either one or two people and sees competitors sled face-up and feet-first as they are propelled at high speed through a course via gravity, due to the high speed of the sport, it is known as one of the most precisely-timed sports in the world with athletes being timed to one-thousandth of a second (a millisecond), furthermore, it’s common for competitors to reach speeds of 140km an hour with the current world record at 154km an hour.
Nordic Combined is known for its incredibly high jumps and high-speed downhill sections, but also sees considerable cross-country skiing which is known to push the athlete to the pinnacle of exhaustion and test their finesse to the peak of human capability, these events can be performed both individually and in teams of up to four people.
Featuring an oval-shaped ice track with a 111.12 metre circumference (60 metres by 30 metres), Short Track Speed Skating sees both individual skaters and relay teams try to out-speed each other as they skate at high-speeds around the track repeatedly.
Similar to luge, Skeleton is used to describe the sport where a person is propelled downhill at an incredible speed, face-down and head-first. Only re-added recently in 2002, the last time it had been seen was in the 1948 games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, but today sees individuals competing for the best times around the track.
Ski Jumping sees a swift, quick departure downhill before hitting a large ramp and a subsequently larger jump following. The sport is performed in both individual and team settings and sees jumps go as high as two-hundred metres, the sport is very popular among extreme sports fans as a result.
Using a board attached to the rider’s feet in order to allow them to manoeuvre effectively, Snowboarding sees a range of styles including Snowboard Racing, Jibbing, Rail Jam, Free Riding, Big Mountain and Freeride, Freestyle, Boardercross, Alpine Snowboarding, Half-Pipe, Slopestyle and Big Air variants, making for a lot of artistic and high-speed tricks to be used effectively.
By timing athletes as they skate across a set distance, Long Track Speed Skating is similar to short track speed skating but sees a much larger track used and tests the skater’s endurance and technique over time, rather than just speed alone measured over a short period, this is often performed in both individual and relay variants.
Although the events are closed now, the event’s legend lives on and the event will continue to reconvene every four years from 2018 onward. Perhaps you would like to inspire the next generation of athletes? How about checking out SeekTeachers’ Physical Education Jobs?