The XX Winter Olympiad

- wadE

Four years ago I lamented the "X-ification" of the Winter Olympics When the US scored their first gold medal in the Women's snowboarding halfpipe. But even with those events the US was beat out on total medals, total gold medals, and total silver medals. We did win the most bronze medals, but that's just an insult to the great United States of America! :-)

Germany 12 16 8 36
United States 10 13 11 34
Norway 13 5 7 25
Canada 7 3 7 17
Austria 3 4 10 17
Russia 5 4 4 13
Italy 4 4 5 13
France 4 5 2 11
Switzerland 3 2 6 11
China 2 2 4 8
Netherlands 3 5 0 8
Finland 4 2 1 7
Sweden 0 2 5 7
Croatia 3 1 0 4
South Korea 2 2 0 4
Estonia 1 1 1 3
Czech Republic 1 2 0 3
Bulgaria 0 1 2 3
Great Britain 1 0 1 2
Australia 2 0 0 2
Poland 0 1 1 2
Japan 0 1 1 2
Slovenia 0 0 1 1
Belarus 0 0 1 1
Total 80 76 78 234

As an aside, you'll notice that the totals don't quiet make sense. If you recall, the Salt Lake City Olympics was the Olympics of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, aka Skategate. The final outcome was the awarding of two sets of gold medals for Pairs Figure Skating.

But I digress; the US scored 3 (out of 12) medals in Freestyle Skiing, and 5 (out of 12) in Snowboarding. The most medals of any country in each of those categories. So the X-ification of the Olympics provided some boost to the US, but not nearly as much as I thought. Although I think 5 of 12 in Snowboarding is pretty close to domination.

But you might now be asking, "what is 'Freestyle Skiing' anyway?" Well let's take a look at the 15 sports that make up the 20th Winter Olympiad:

Alpine Skiing - is comprised of Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Combined. Simple! Or not.

Biathlon - is a bit more straightforward. Basically, ski for a bit then shoot at some targets. The main differences being in distance and number of stops to shoot.

Bobsled - or Bobsleigh has a couple variations. Two-men, two-women, and four-men. This is the sport that was immortalized in the great cinematic epic Cool Runnings.

Cross-Country Skiing - is also straightforward.

Curling - don't even think about calling this shuffleboard on ice. I debating the "sport"-ing merits of Curling here.

Figure Skating - consists of four events: ladies singles, men's singles, pairs, and ice dancing. It gets a little complicated with in each event.

Freestyle Skiing - falls into two categories: Moguls and Aerials. Moguls is the one that looks like it would destroy your knees in one run. Aerials reminds me of platform diving on skis. These both joined the Olmpics in the 90s.

Ice Hockey - should be pretty self explanatory, if not click here.

Luge - why the Olympics put Luge in a different category than Bobsled is beyone me. Even Skeleton is in the Bobsled category. At any rate, there is nothing more sexy than the double luge where two people wearing latex body suits laying on top of each other. Oddly enough, for doubles, there is no requirements of the sex of the competitors, but it is usually two men.

Nordic Combined - has always confused me. The "combined" events are ski-jump and cross-country. But it has the best event name with the Individual Gundersen, as well as the Sprint and Team events. The easiest way to not get this confused with Alpine, is that Alpine is all of the "downhill" events.

Short Track - is the antithesis of Speed Skating, or at least its renegade brother. It almost feels like Roller Derby on ice. Unlike Speed Skating, which can get pretty boring when you see the Men's 10000 meters, Short Track is a contact sport with plenty of action.

Skeleton - is relatively new to the Olympics but yet not new. Skeleton has twice been on the Olympic programme, both times at its "ancestral" home of St. Moritz, in 1928 and 1948. However, skeleton for both men and women has also been added to the 2002 Olympic programme. The skeleton's main attraction is its danger. Heading down an ice chute, headfirst, with your nose about 2 inches from the ice racing by at highway speeds.

Ski Jumping - is pretty standard, and has always been on of my favorites.

Snowboarding - is my least favorite "sport" in the Winter Olympics. It's taking all the things I find stupid about skateboarding, and putting it on snow.

Speed Skating - is pretty standard as well, I'm sure you are quite familiar with it.

So those the are the sports. If you are looking for a handy guide of what is happening when, check here.

Even with some of my negative comments, I still love the Olympics. It doesn't capture my imagination like it did when I was a child, but it's still fun to watch, and unless you get EuroSport on cable it's the only time you really get to see Ski Jumping on TV!

- 02/03/2006

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