South Korea hosts the XXIII Olympic Winter Games this month while the Winter Paralympics take place in March. Here’s our guide to the sports involved, the teams to watch…
Alpine Skiing debuted at the 1936 Winter Olympics. Four years later the giant slalom was added and in 1988 the super giant slalom became a fourth, separate event.
• Watch out for: Norway, Austria and Germany.
Biathlon. The word biathlon comes from the Greek for two contests. Biathlon has its roots in survival skills practised in the snow-covered forests of Scandinavia.
• Watch out for: France, Norway, Slovenia and Germany.
Bobsleigh wasn’t around until the late 19th century when the Swiss attached two skeleton sleds together. A chassis was later included and the world’s first bobsleigh club was founded in St Moritz in 1897.
• Watch out for: Canada, Germany and the United States.
Cross Country Skiing. For centuries in the snow-covered north, skis were required to chase game and gather firewood. With long distances between isolated communities, skiing was important as a means of retaining social contact.
• Watch out for: Norway, Russia and Sweden.
Curling is a sport played by two teams of four on a rectangular sheet of ice. Its nickname, ‘The Roaring Game’, originates from the rumbling sound the 19kg granite stones make travelling across ice.
• Watch out for: Canada, Switzerland, Russia…and the Scottish members of Team GB.
Figure Skating has developed from a practical way to get around on ice into an elegant mix of art and sport. It is now the oldest sport on the winter programme.
• Watch out for: Japan, Spain, Russia and Canada.
Freestyle Skiing combines speed, showmanship and the ability to perform aerial manoeuvres. It debuted as a demonstration sport in 1988.
• Watch out for: United States, Great Britain and Canada.
Ice Hockey is a fast, fluid and exciting team sport that – thanks to its drama and tension – draws big crowds. Six-a-side men’s ice hockey has been in every Winter Olympics since 1924.
• Watch out for: Canada, Russia and Sweden.
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!
• Watch out for: Russia, Germany and Austria.
Nordic Combined. This sport, which has a long Olympic history, combines ski jumping and cross country skiing. Individual events have featured in every games since 1924.
• Watch out for: Norway, Germany and France.
Short Track Speed Skating. In short track speed skating, athletes compete not against the clock, but against each other. This introduces
elements of strategy, skill and bravery.
• Watch out for: Korea, Canada and The Netherlands.
Skeleton racing involves plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled.
• Watch out for: Canada, Germany and Switzerland.
Ski Jumping. Over the past 100 years, ski jumping has evolved with different techniques allowing participants to achieve ever greater distances.
• Watch out for: Germany, Austria and Norway.
Snowboard. Snowboarding combines elements of surfing, skateboarding and skiing. It made its Olympic debut in 1998.
• Watch out for: Canada, Denmark and Norway.
Speed Skating began as a rapid form of transportation across frozen lakes and rivers. It made its debut at the 1924 games.
• Watch out for: Korea, Canada, Italy and China.
• For further details on all these sports, visit www.olympic.org/sports. The 2018 Olympic Winter Games run from 9th-25th February (www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018). The 2018 Winter Paralympics are staged from 9th-18th March (www.paralympic.org).