Moller: Ranking the Winter Olympic sports
Nate Moller | Tuesday, February 8, 2022
With the 2022 Winter Olympics kicking off in Beijing, China this past weekend, it is time to rank the top 11 Olympic sports based on their level of enjoyment to watch and the athleticism required.
11. Alpine Skiing: This one is a classic, and it would be rated higher, but I gave priority to more niche sports that are less common. Nevertheless, any of the alpine skiing events are fun to watch, and the icy conditions present in Beijing make this event a whole lot more interesting. The Super-G is one of the most entertaining to watch with competitors going faster than 80 mph down the mountain. While the other downhill events are slightly more tame than the Super-G, they are still very fun to watch.
10. Cross-Country Skiing: Is watching a 50 kilometer race on TV a little bit boring? I’ll admit that it is, but because I am a cross-country skier myself, I have to give some credit to this sport. Cross-country skiers are notorious for having the highest VO2 max, which is the amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise, of any group of athletes. It is amazing to see the discipline that these athletes have. If you are looking for a more fun cross-country skiing event to watch, give the sprint relays a try. Minnesota native Jessie Diggins is the best skier the Americans have had in a long time, and she will look to put on a show in Beijing over the next couple of weeks.
9. Snowboarding: Another winter classic, snowboarding is always a solid event to watch. There are a variety of competitions, and Team USA is always on top in this event as well, which increases the level of enjoyment. Some of the spins and jumps these athletes complete are just ridiculous.
8. Figure Skating: I am listing classic after classic, and this one is probably a lot of people’s favorite to watch. The coordination these athletes must have to do what they do on the ice is simply astounding. This is definitely the most graceful sport in the Olympics, and it is a great change of pace from some of the more intense, action filled events. Team USA is greatly improved in figure skating as well, making the event that much more fun to watch.
7. Luge: The remaining events are very niche sports that you have to be somewhat crazy to do. The luge definitely requires at least a little bit of craziness to say the least. The fact that the sled is only roughly 50 lbs and can get up to speeds near 100 mph is absurd. To see athletes zooming through the course definitely makes it a fun event to watch. It’s pretty majestic in a sense to see the athlete lying on their back, barely moving as they guide their sled through the course.
6. Freestyle Skiing: Now this one is just absurd. Freestyle skiing includes a plethora of events such as halfpipe, slope-style, aerials, moguls and ski-cross. It’s one thing to see someone do halfpipe on a snowboard, but the coordination required on skis must be even harder. Moguls is another really fun event to see as well. You have to wonder how someone finds out they are good at this stuff.
5. Biathlon: This is another personal favorite of mine because of the cross-country skiing that is involved. The event consists of the cross-country skate skiing technique where the athletes must also carry a biathlon rifle on their backs for the extent of the race. Then, at various checkpoints athletes must shoot at a target, and if they miss, they have to do a penalty lap. This could be the toughest Olympic sport because you have to keep your heart rate down to be able to hit your targets. It is also fun because you never know what is going to happen with the penalty laps that are incorporated.
4. Ski Jumping: This is definitely the craziest of all Olympic sports, and I truly don’t understand how you figure out that you are good at this. I guess you start with a small jump and work your way up, but it is crazy nevertheless. It is definitely entertaining to watch on television though. I have the utmost respect for these athletes because they are truly risking their lives every time they go off a jump. I can only imagine how intimidating it must feel at the top of the ski jump. These athletes must be the most confident and unfazed people in the world to do this event.
3. Skeleton: This is very similar to the luge, but it is more thrilling because the athlete goes face first down the course. The race begins with a running start, and then the athlete is on their way. Although the skeleton is a slower event than the luge, it makes for a thrilling race to watch as the rider tries to guide their sled through the course while in an uncomfortable position on their stomach.
2. Nordic Combined: This one is high on my list because it combines two sports that are very different. Although they are both on skis, nordic combined combines ski jumping and cross-country skiing, which are arguably the two most different skiing events. The event has been around since the winter game’s inception in 1924, and it has stuck around as a tradition of the Olympics. In the ski jump, competitors are judged on style, distance and ability to stick a landing, and then the 10 km cross country ski is all endurance. To be successful at this event, you truly have to be an all around athlete, and that is what makes this event so special. Unfortunately, nordic combined is only available to male athletes, but the hope is it will be available to women in the near future.
1. Short-Track Speed Skating: When I think of skating at the Olympics, I usually think of gracefulness and technique. Short-track speed skating, however, is the exact opposite of that, as it combines aggressiveness with speed and technical ability. Competitors race on an indoor track the size of a hockey rink (111 meters), vying for position and looking to pass their opponents. This event is so fun because it only takes a matter of seconds and because the event is so hectic. Disqualifications and falls are very commonplace as well, making this event truly anyone’s to win. The quickness and aggression required in short-track speed skating truly makes it a sport like no other.