The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are quickly approaching. I’m really starting to get geared up. Most people are familiar with the more traditional sports of skiing and skating, and today’s kids are familar with the X-games style sports. Today, I’ll introduce you to a few more sports.

Luge

My favorite winter Olympic sport, bar none, is luge. In fact, it’s my second favorite overall sport to watch – behind only baseball. So, then, what is luge, exactly? It’s a bit like the bobsled (bobsleigh) event, except that the repo man took 95% of your sled. You launch yourself from the top of the luge track, quickly get into positon (on your back, feet first) and use your feet to steer the sled as you fly doing the track at speeds that can exceed 90 mph! Sometimes you get to the finish line still atop the sled, sometimes you don’t. There is single luge (my favorite) and doubles luge. I haven’t had the chance to actually try luge personally, but I love watching it. I’ll definitely have my DVR set, so that I don’t miss a moment of action.

I am proposing that The Soap Boxers adopt the USA luge team as our official team to follow in the Olympics. 

Do I have a favorite luge athelete?  Of course.  It’s Erin Hamlin (@ErinHamlin on Twitter).  Hamlin made her Olympic debut as a 19 year old in the 2006 games in Torino.  Hamlin shocked the world by winning a gold medal at the 2009 FIL World Luge Championships.  It was the first time in 15 years that a German woman failed to win at an Olympic, World Championship, or European Championship event.  On December 13, Hamlin picked up her first ever World Cup medal, winning the bronze at an even in Lillehammer, Norway.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict an upset of the Germans and a triumphant Hamlin slide down the course at Whistler.

Skeleton

If you think flying down a hill on an ice track at 90 mph while steeting with your feet … imagine doing it headfirst, on your stomach.  That’s skeleton.  Skeleton, luge, and bobsledding (bobsleigh) all trace their origins to St. Moriz, Switzerland.  Skeleton was an Olympic sport when the games were held in St. Moritz when the games were held their in 1928 and 1942.  In 2002, they were permanently added to the Olympics.  I’m not as much of a fan of skeleton as I am of luge, but perhaps it’s because I’ve been watching Olympic luge since I was a kid.

Biathlon

The biathlon is a sport that involves skiing and shooting.  Seems like an odd combination, doesn’t it?  Who on earth would create such a sport?

The Norwegian military.  It was created as an exercise for soldiers.

Participants cross-country ski a course, stopping to shoot at targets along the way.  If they miss the targets, they face either a time penalty (the time is added to their skiing time) or are force to ski essentially “penalty laps”.

I’m not a big fan of skiing, and really don’t watching shooting events at all – but I’m fascinated by this event, which combines two completely different disciplines.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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