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Expanding Your Olympic Knowledge: 5 Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Sports You Haven’t Heard Of

With the Vancouver Games upon us, it’s time for you to brush up on your Olympic Sports knowledge! Opening ceremonies were this past Friday, and Her Campus is here to rescue you from all the gaps in your sporting ensemble. Reality is, there is more than just your standard figure skating and skiing…in fact, the Winter Games boast some of the scariest events around! Read on to find out about 5 lesser-known Olympic Sports!


An event including both cross-country skiing and shooting, Olympic.org describes the event as, “Biathlon combines the power and aggression of cross-country skiing with the precision and calm of marksmanship.” The sport originated in Scandinavia based on the survival skills needed in the forest. It became an Olympic sport in 1960, and was added for women in 1992. There are ten races that make up the event consisting of sprints, relays, mass starts, individual, and pursuit races for both the men and the women. The United States has never won a medal in the event. Each of the races—spring, pursuit, mass start, individual race, and relay—consists of cross-country skiing and 2 or 4 stops on the shooting range. At half the stops on the shooting range the athletes will shoot lying down, at the other half, the athletes will stand up. Athletes get five shots at five targets at the range. For every missed target, athletes must ski a 150m penalty lap before continuing on. The fastest competitor wins. Top Athletes to Look Out for: Kati Wilhelm of Germany has been coined as one to watch in the Vancouver games. She is a sergeant in the German Armed Force, and already has won two golds and a silver medal at the 2002 games. The Biathlon will be held February 13, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 26 at Whistler Olympic Park


Dominated by the Canadians, “Curling is a team sport played by two teams of four players on a rectangular sheet of ice. Its nickname, ‘The Roaring Game,’ originates from the rumbling sound the 44-pound granite stones make when they travel across the ice.” Curling is considered one of the oldest winter sports, dating back to 16th century Scotland where it was played on frozen ponds and lochs. The sport was part of the Olympics until it was dropped in 1924 and did not make its return until 1998 at the Nagano games. The game consists of team members sliding heavy granite stones across the ice, attempting to get them to stop closest to the target. Team members sweep the ice in front of the moving stone to improve conditions. Top Athletes To Look Out For: American Debbie McCormick will be making her third Olympic appearance this month. McCormick comes from a curling family, her father and mother curled at the elite level, and McCormick hopes to make her third appearance at the Games one ending on the medal stand. Curling will be held February 16-27 at the Vancouver Olympic Center

Bobsleigh Skeleton

Contestably the most dangerous of the Winter sports, “skeleton racing involves plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled. It is considered the world’s first sliding sport.” It originated as a pastime of British tourists in the Alps who slid down iced over roads. Truly a sport for thrill-seekers, skeleton competitors are actually disqualified if they attempt to slow themselves down. Competitors lie on their stomachs, head first, as they fly down the track. There are no brakes on the sleds – the fastest slider through the track wins. Top Athletes To Look Out For: American Noelle Pikus-Pace is the one to watch, says ESPN. Out at the 2006 Games due to a broken leg, Pikus-Pace is back in action ready to speed past all who impede her way. Bobsleigh Skeleton will be held February 18, 19 at the Whistler Sliding Centre.


“Luge riders hurtle down a slippery ice track at great speed, relying on reflexes for steering. Unlike bobsleigh, however, they have no protection should they make an error. Also from Switzerland, Luge was spoken of as early as the 16th century, but “it was not until 300 years later that the first luge tracks were built by Swiss hotel owners to cater for thrill-seeking tourists,” says Olympic.org. Luge competitors lie of their backs, feet first, and can compete as an individual or a pair. In the pairs event, the larger competitor lies on top of the smaller one. The fastest competitor/competitors wins. The event was added to the Olympics in 1964.
Top Athletes to Look Out For: Erin Hamlin, ESPN names Hamlin one of the top athletes to watch in the 2010 Games, for an American woman has never won a luge gold! The top ranked German team will be her biggest competition. The Luge will be held at the Whistler Sliding Centre on February 13-17.

Freestyle Skiing

“Combines speed, showmanship, and the ability to perform aerial maneuvers whilst skiing.” The sport gained momentum in the U.S. during the 1960s. The event is made up of three types of Freestyle Skiing: Aerial, Mogul, and Ski Cross. The 2010 Vancouver Games will be the Ski Cross debut.
In the Mogul event, competitors ski down a moguled slope – a slope full of bumps, lumps, and mini-hills – that is 220-250 meters long, and must perform two jumps on their way down. The competitors are judged on their performances. The Ski Cross is a race through a skiing obstacle course. The fastest skier through wins. Aerials is a judged event in which skiers ski off a ski jump and perform tricks like twists and flips in the air before landing. Top Athletes To Look Out For: ESPN names American Hannah Kearney one to watch in the moguls division. She is the most recent World Cup circuit champion. Her biggest competition may be the 2006 Olympic Champion Jennifer Heil, a Canadian with home-country advantage. Freestyle Skiing will be held at Cypress Mountain on February 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. Sources: www.Olympic.org http://espn.go.com/olympics/winter/2010/ http://sports.espn.go.com/olympics/winter/2010/news/story?id=4901905 http://ezinearticles.com/?Top-Athletes-to-Watch-Out-For-in-the-2010-Whis… http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=2225/bio/index.html

A self-proclaimed sports fanatic, Hilary May, Harvard class of 2011, is a History Concentrator native of Newport Beach, CA. Hilary is a member of the varsity track and cross-country teams for the Harvard Crimson, specializing in the middle distances. After a sensational internship at ESPN last summer, she hopes for a career in on-air TV sports broadcasting. At HerCampus Magazine, Hilary wants to shed light on the athletic world to both jocks and gym-goers alike. When she isn't training, studying, or cheering on the Crimson, Hilary enjoys surfing, stand-up paddling, going to the beach, and eating Mexican food.
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