By Katie Bowles
The 22nd Winter Olympics officially begins this Friday, Feb. 7 in Sochi. You’re probably pretty familiar with the more mainstream sports, but how much do you know about obscure events like curling or the biathlon? Check out these surprising facts and then go try a new winter sport at one of the locations listed below.
The Biathlon is part of the Winter Olympics thanks to Russia’s Red Army, which would ski in full military gear and then complete shooting exercises. (Source: Winter Olympics Official Website)
Formerly made famous by the film “Cool Runnings”, Jamaica’s Bobsled team qualified for this year’s Winter Olympics but wasn’t sure it would be able to raise the money necessary to make it to the games. Online communities like Reddit rallied users into contributing funds through digital currencies (namely the meme-based “Dogecoin”) and met the $30,000 fundraising goal within two days. (Source: Huffington Post)
—Curling is one of the world’s oldest team sports (and one of the most exciting/nerve-wracking to watch, in my opinion), with origins in 16th century Scotland. (Source: Olympic.org)
–It is unknown why the sport of Skeleton is named thusly. Some believe that it comes from the skeleton-like structure of the sled itself, while others think it came from a mispronunciation of “Kjaelke”, a Norwegian word for sleds used for amusement in Alpine countries. (Source: International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation)
–This is the first year that women will compete in ski jumping at the Winter Olympics. (Source: Winter Olympics Official Website)
See the Official Schedule to find out when to watch each event.
Interested in trying your hand at one of these lesser-known sports? Here are your options:
Alpine Skiing: Race around the gates and test your speed against the NASTAR (National Standard Race) pacesetter at Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, Virginia. Rates and schedules here.
Curling: The National Capital Curling Center is offering two open houses (sponsored by the Potomac Curling Club) for curling novices. Come to the Laurel, Maryland center on February 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or on February 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn about the sport and give it a try.
Freestyle Skiing: Ski over rails, boxes, jumps and pipes at Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain Terrain Parks. This resort offers three levels (beginner through expert) of terrain parks for freestyle skiing, along with downhill skiing and snowboarding. Information here.
Speedskating: Join the Potomac Speedskating Club for a free trial session at one of its practices at the Cabin John Ice Rink in Rockville or the Wheaton Ice Arena in Wheaton. Fill out the inquiry form here.