2014 Olympic Preview: Sledding Sports

sochi_logo_3

Olympic athletes are a special breed of athlete as they are nowhere close to the same as the professional athletes. In fact they are many times better than professional athletes because these athletes must work through so much more to get to the top. For professional athletes he love of the sport starts their careers at a young age but eventually the fact that they can make a living with their love takes over. It eventually becomes the motivation for many of the pro athletes as they still love the sport but the money takes over. For Olympic athletes the only motivation is the love of the sport and the want to be the best. There is no money in Olympic sports for athletes as they survive essentially through becoming a face for the country and earning a major sponsorship. Even then the money most of the time will go towards training for the World Championships and the next Olympics. Athletes live on almost nothing while trying to become the best in the world at a sport that they have extreme passion about. To go through these conditions and still make it to the top of the sport by earning a spot in the Olympic Games can take a lot of perseverance and a lot of heart. There is also a sense that many of these athletes are a little bit crazy for putting themselves through everything to just win a gold medal with no promise of any true payment. This could be true as these athletes do put themselves through more than most people and all to get rewarded by doing their best or being named the best. There is some craziness mixed in with everything else when athletes refuse to give up even when it gets to a point beyond what most normal people can handle. Although this can be said for pretty much every athlete there are a group of athletes that seem a little crazier than the rest. Imagine turning your body to be at the powerful and fast all to throw yourself down a massive slide of ice. This would happen sometimes in a tube of metal and sometimes on a thin board and other times going head first. That is what sledding sports are all about as powerful athletes through themselves at breakneck speeds down a hill of ice to try to be the fastest down the hill. It is a simple task but one that takes power and precision and of course a little bit of craziness to do it right. All of these sports will involve these aspects as a set of athletes looks to be the fastest athletes in the Olympics with a little help from blades and ice.

 

Bobsleigh

bobsleigh

 

 

 

 

 


First Year:
1924
Most Medals: Switzerland, 30 (9 Gold)

Bobsleigh can be one of the few Olympic sports that can be traced back to what many people do to have fun. It would start in Northern Europe as a hobby by vacationing Englishmen who would use the lanes and streets in Switzerland as their own sledding courses. It was a simple way to keep people busy and would become a national past time for multiple countries. To this day there are thousands of people using a sled to race down a snowy hill and try to beat their friends. Bobsleigh would start from these humble beginnings and can be related to the past times of many but it is an entirely different world. It would start in 1924 in the Olympics as one of the original sports in the Winter Olympic program but it would look much different. The sleds were wooden sleighs completely open to the elements while the tracks were straight and forced purely by the weather. Since that time the sport has evolved by leaps and bounds as sleds are now made of fiberglass and hide all of the racers. Tracks are now man-made and cooled artificially with massive bank turns and ridiculous speeds. These speeds can reach up to 150km/h through steep banked turns and tricky curves. There are three competitions in bobsleigh at the Olympics as men compete in the four man and the two-man bobsleigh while women compete in teams of two. These teams begin from a standing start where all team members push their sled as fast as they can before jumping in to go down the hill. In each team there is a pilot who steers the sled through the course and a brakeman who controls the speed and ensures that the sled is not carrying too much speed into a corner. In the end the winner is determined by the best time down the course. It is a fast sport with the power and precision of athletes can make the difference between a medal and disaster as teams look to push the limits in one of the fastest sports in the Winter Olympics to earn a medal.

 

Who to Watch:
Jamaican 2-man Bobsled
– They are not really favorites to win a medal but the story is still great as the images of Cool Runnings return for a team that does not make an appearance in the Winter Olympics all too much but qualified this year and received plenty of public support to earn funding to go

Russian 4-Man Boblsed
– The Russians are trying to do everything they can to earn as many medals as they can at home and one of their medal favorites is the 4-man team that finished second in the World championships in 2013

USA Women’s Boblsed
– The US Women, with pilot Elana Myers and brakewoman Aja Evans, are one of the main rivals of the Olympic Gold medalists from 2010 and the World Champions as the Americans are hoping that they can improve on their second place finish in the World Championship in 2013

Canadian Content:
Kaillie Humphries (Calgary, AB)
– She has become a face of the Olympics for the Canadians as she has been one of the best and most consistent performers in the World Championships winning the last two titles and the Olympic Gold Medal in 2010 as she looks to repeat alongside Heather Moyse

Justin Kripps (Summerland, BC)
– He is the lesser known of the teams competing for Canada but he is getting hot at the right time as he would win his first World Cup Race in the last race before the Olympics as he hopes to translate that into a medal alongside Bryan Barnett

Lyndon Rush (Humboldt, SK)
– He is now the veteran of the Olympic bobsleigh team and is hoping to pilot the 4-man bobsleigh into a medal after winning the bronze in the last world cup race while also trying to guide Canada 1 alongside Lascelles Brown in the two-man bobsleigh

 

Luge

luge

 

 

 

 

 


First Year:
1964
Most Medals: East Germany, 29 (13 Gold)

The Bobsleigh is one of the fastest sports in the Olympics but it is one where athletes are inside a tube of fiberglass. That is very different from what the athletes participating in the Luge have to go through to win a medal. Instead of the relatively safe confines of a bobsled lugers must try to earn their medal on an open sleigh. There is nothing protecting the athletes from the outside world and instead of a steering mechanism these athletes must use their bodies to steer through the course. Racers must start from a seated position and push their way through the start while getting into position to race down the hill. It is primarily seen as an individual sport but a new addition to the program will make it more of a team sport. There are three competitions in luge with the individual luge, the doubles luge, and the newest addition the team relay. The men and women participate in the individual competition where athletes take four runs down the course with the combination of the times determining the winner. The doubles competition is a traditionally male only competition, although there is no rule against women participating, where two men race down the hill on one sled together in two runs where the fastest run determines the champion. The team relay is the most recent addition to the program and is a very unique competition. The team relay involves four racers in the many different aspects of the sport. One male, one female, and a doubles team all participate where the combined score of all three sleds makes up the time for the country. The male racer will leave first and must hit a touch pad that opens that gates for the female racer who does the same for the doubles team. It will be an interesting version of the Luge and should be something special to watch in the Sochi Olympics. The luge is a fast sport that leaves athletes completely exposed where the smallest miscalculation can mean disaster but that danger is what makes it one of the most exciting sports in the Winter Olympics.

 

Who to Watch:
Armin Zoeggler (Italy)
– He has won two World Cup races this year and is hoping that his second place standing in the World Cup will translate to a medal in the Olympics as he hopes to earn a gold like he did in the 2006 Olympics

Felix Loch (Germany)
– He has been the most dominant racer in the World Cup this year finishing in first place in the World cup standings and taking five races as he looks to repeat as Olympic Champion from the 2010 Olympics

Natalie Geisenberger (Germany)
– She would finish with the bronze in the 2010 Olympics and would take that as the beginning of a successful trajectory as she would go one to win the 2013 World championships and the 2013 World Cup as she hopes the path continues to the top of the Olympic podium

German Relay Team
– In the newest competition for the Olympics it is the Germans who are the dominant team as they continue the tradition of Germans dominating the sledding sports as the World Cup champions in the event

Canadian Content:
Alex Gough (Calgary, AB)
– She would make history in 2011 as the only Canadian to win a World Cup race and would snap a very long streak of wins by the Germans and she hopes to translate her bronze medal performance in the World Championships to a medal in Sochi

Tristan Walker/Justin Snith (Calgary, AB)
– They are looking to be the best doubles team in Canadian history and although they are a young team they have had their best season yet and are hoping that can mean surprising many by winning a medal in the Olympics

Canadian Relay Team
– The Germans continue to dominate the circuit but the Canadians are right behind them in true Canadian fashion finishing in second in the World cup and hoping to win a medal for the Canadians

 

Skeleton

skelton

 

 

 

 

 


First Year:
1928 (Continuously since 2002)
Most Medals: USA, 6 (3 Gold)

If there is one sport in the sledding category that seems like the craziest sport it is skeleton and it could be the most terrifying of all the sports in the Winter Olympics. It is the speed of bobsled and luge but going face first down the course. It would start at the same time as Bobsled skeleton would develop out of different thoughts on the best way to steer a sled down a track. Instead of sitting on a bigger sled with other team members to steer through the course some would believe that riding with one person was the better option. Using the body to steer through the course while being able to see exactly where they were going by going face first would evolve into the sport that makes plenty of people cringe today. Much like luge skeleton does not have the protection of the bobsled and no steering system to guide it down the course. Instead athletes must use their bodies to steer a minimalistic sled down the icy course. They can reach speeds of 140km/h and are going at it all head first trying not to make a mistake. They must be able to concentrate while they see the ice coming at them face first taking the bank turns without losing any speed. To start athletes stand beside the sled and run forward while holding the sled. They then jump on the sled and get in position to steer the sled through the course at great speed. Both men and women participate in skeleton with only individual competitions. The winners are determined with the combined time of four runs by each athlete with the fastest time winning the gold. It is a sport that not many would be able to stomach but these athletes thrive in the situation. These athletes are happy with the thrill that the sport gives them as it makes them focus more and lets them take the concentration they need to get down the course unscathed. It is yet another fast sport and another thrilling sport that could be the scariest thing anyone does at the Winter Olympics.

 

Who to Watch:
Martins Dukurs (Latvia)
– He has won 6 of the 8 races in the latest World Cup and is the most dominant racers heading into the Olympics and will look to take that dominance to Sochi where he hopes for a Gold medal

Lizzy Yarnold (Great Britain)
– One half of a great rivalry throughout the 2014 World Cup Yarnold will battle for the top spot at the Olympics after winning four of the latest World Cup races as she hopes that she can get the win at Sochi

Tomass Dukurs (Latvia)
– He has not been as dominant as his younger brother but he is a serious medal contender and is hoping to take a spot on the Olympic podium alongside his brother for what could be a great moment for Sochi

Noelle Pikus-Pace (USA)
– She is the second half to the rivalry in the women’s skeleton World Cup as she would win four World Cup races in 2014 and will try to beat her rival Lizzy Yarnold for the Olympic Gold Medal in what should be a great battle

Canadian Content:
Mellisa Hollingsworth (Lacombe, AB)
– In 2010 Hollingsworth was one of the gold medal favorites but she would start in second place and fall fast to fifth place disappointing everyone in front of her home crowd as she returns to the Olympics in the hopes of redeeming herself

Sarah Reid (Calgary, AB)
– Reid would begin her Olympic Dreams trying to get into bobsled but after her small stature made it hard for her to move the sled she would switch to Skeleton and hopes that her top three finishes at the beginning of the year translate to the Olympics

John Fairbairn (London, ON)
– In 2010 Jon Montgomery would capture the imaginations of the country after winning gold but he will not travel to Sochi and in his place will be Fairbairn who has plenty to live up to as he is the highest ranked Canadian in the World Cup and hopes to win a medal at Sochi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 167 other followers

%d bloggers like this: