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Winter Olympic Sports (Sliding)

Olympic Rings

by Marko Peric

When I rated Winter Olympic Sports last week, I only rated snow sports, mainly to keep the list at a reasonable size. But when I look at the remaining eight sports, that's still a long list. So I'm breaking up the ice sports from the sliding sports. Now, I know that technically the track using for sliding sports is lined with ice, so they could also be considered ice sports, but I don't feel like doing a rating of that many sports at one time. So here's my rating of winter Olympic sliding sports.

Bobsleigh: Everyone calls this event bobsled, but technically it's bobsleigh. I've always considered a sleigh to be something that is pulled by a horse and sung about at Christmastime, whereas a sled is something that goes downhill under the power of gravity. And this event uses gravity to get the sleds going at up to 150 km/h, which I have to say is a whole lot faster than I was ever able to get going on a toboggan. The problem with the sport is that apart from the driver, once the start is over, everyone else is ballast, particularly in the four man event. Having highly trained athletes act as ballast is Bad.

Luge: Jerry Seinfeld commented on luge suggesting a new sport, Involuntary Luge, where unsuspecting members of the public are taken against their will and forced to race down a luge run. Myself, I'm envisioning that Fat Old Guys In Three Piece Suits Luge would be even more entertaining. Of course, the Germans wouldn't go for that, I'm sure, and the Germans have dominated luge for years. The image of a stout German clad in Lycra travelling at 140 km/h down an iced track is somewhat disturbing. The image of two Germans lying one atop the other both clad in Lycra travelling at this speed is downright Ugly.

Skeleton: I looked it up, and the name comes from an early sled design that had ribs and looked, well, kinda like a skeleton. It actually was an Olympic sport before either of the other track sports, debuting in 1928, but the lack of track facilities prevented it from becoming widely popular. Now it's back and frankly, it's one of the coolest looking events at these games. It's actually the safest of the sliding sports, but it looks seriously dangerous. It's also really cool that Jim Shea, who took the athlete's oath at the opening ceremonies, won the gold. When the home country hero wins that's always a Good moment.

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