Posts Tagged "skeleton"

Weird Winter Olympic Sports

Dear Kid,

My friend the library let me down. In case you’re not sure, the library is kind of like the internet except you have to travel to get there. I grabbed a book at the library the other day called The Book of Olympic Lists which is totally misnamed. It should be called the Book of Summer Olympic Lists Completely Ignoring All Winter Sports.

So I have now turned to my friend the internet to help round out my research.

It is still true that sometimes over the years host countries have added interesting unusual weird sports to the Olympics (like Tug of War and Obstacle Swimming). I can now add Interesting and Unusual Winter Sports for your reading enjoyment. I am not making any of this up.

I pull beer, not skiers. No Skijoring.  DearKidLoveMom.comIn 1932 (Lake Placid), one of the sports was a dog sled race. Actually, there were two races on the 25.1 mile course. Only Canada and the US participated since dogs from other parts of the world decided they’d rather curl up in front of a nice cozy fire. This was the first recorded time in Olympic history of athletes using less-than-private “facilities.” So Sochi is just revisiting communal potties.

Moving straight ahead, or at least straight down, the Albertville Olympics (1992) showcased speed skiing. The point of speed skiing is to hit the fastest speed you possibly can (think clocking a baseball pitch). Speed skiers regularly exceed 200 km/h (125 mph), which is even faster than a free-falling skydiver (about 190 km/h; 120 mph). The Frenchman who won in Albertville reached 229 k/hr. This is a very dangerous sport (people have died) and is not nearly as interesting to watch as it sounds like it should be, so we’ll keep it on the “nevermind” list.

The best named sport I could find is skijoring (which I will leave to others to pronounce correctly). Basically, skijoring combines skiing with dogsleding. The human wears skis and a harness to which a dog (or three) is/are attached. There are no reins so you have to hope your dog is very motivated to get moving and that you have trained your dog to respond to your voice commands even when that pup can’t see an immediate incentive to do so. Skijoring was in the Games in 1928 (St. Moritz) where the skiers were pulled by horses (which made it more like combining skiing with a Budweiser commercial). Also, they held the race on a frozen lake. Which is odd because frozen lakes are flat and part of the fun is going over bumps and jumps. Or so I’ve been led to understand.

The other oddly named sport is skeleton (which of course has nothing to do with Halloween or underfed athletes). Men’s skeleton first appeared in the Olympics in 1928 (still St. Moritz). Then everyone forgot about it until the Olympics went back there in 1948 and they tried it once again (once being the operative word). In 2002 (Salt Lake) men’s and women’s skeleton became part of the regular Olympic lineup. In my opinion, extra points should be given for really cool helmets.

Hoping your Olympic lineup includes studying of epic proportions.

Love, Mom

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Sneak Peek at Some of the Sochi Olympic Hopefuls

Best wishes for all the Sochi athletes DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

Things are heating up in the pre-Sochi world of elite athletes. There’s some good and some downright ugly.

The way Ashley Wagner is being treated on Twitter (badly) has me truly annoyed (and by “annoyed” I mean beyond fed up). In case you were doing something crazy like studying, the bottom line is that Ashley made the US Olympic Figure Skating team. The dust-up is that she did not do well at the national championships (and by “did not do well” I mean she fell twice) so many people think she should not have been chosen (and—more to the point—someone else should have).

The point—my point—is that it is Not Her Fault she was chosen and Twitterville (and I love Twitterville dearly) has got to stop being utterly evil to her. Her job right now is to do brilliantly in Sochi and we should be supporting that. Go ahead and write nastygrams to the Olympic committee. No prob. (Seriously, though. Are you only just now figuring out that ice skating and gymnastics decisions are often based on things other than that day’s performance? Grow up.)  Leave Ashley out of the ick. Btw—she is officially off social media until after the games. Probably a wise decision, but I wish it weren’t necessary.

Here’s some of the good.

Have you heard about the US Men’s Curling Team? They are exactly what the Olympics should be about imho. They are amateurs in the true sense. They have real day jobs: a restaurant manager, a middle-school science teacher, an engineer, and a college student. (Yeah, I get that “college student” isn’t a job exactly, but it’s close enough for what I’m talking about.) They don’t get to spend 100 hours a day practicing. They don’t earn enough money through gifts or sponsors or promotions to be worry free about financial realities. Their big sponsor is Dairy Queen—not exactly the training mecca of athletes everywhere. I think they may be my heroes of the week.

The US Women’s biathlon team has a story worthy of a Christmas TV special on Lifetime. Lanny and Tracy Barnes are twin sisters who both competed for the US in the 2006 Olympic games. During this year’s trials, Tracy earned a spot on the team, but Lanny was ill and missed three of the four tryout races (which does not do good things for one’s qualifying opportunities). Then (and this is the after school special part) Tracy gave up her spot and Lanny was tapped to take her place. Wild, huh?

In Olympic fashion news: watch for the Canadian men’s skeleton crew. Their helmets rock. Big time.

Glad to hear school is going well so far.

Love, Mom

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