What to Anticipate During the Winter Olympics

By Maggie DeBlasis on February 7, 2014

Photo taken by uwdigitalcollections, via flickr.com.

Every four years, people return home after their taxing days at school or work to the possibility of watching athletes from all over the globe compete against the snowy landscape of a faraway land. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games commence on Feb. 7, and, after four years of hype, the time has finally come for Sochi, Russia, to show the world what they’re made of. Here are four things to look forward to during the two weeks of competition.

Opening Ceremonies

As always, millions tune in to their televisions at all hours of the day from around the world to watch the spectacle that has come to be expected of the Opening Ceremonies. In the past, these festivities have showcased the stories and histories of the host country. The Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada focused on the aboriginal tribes of the nation and their and nature’s overall impact on the Canada we know today. There was a huge inflatable polar bear at one point in time and scenery kept rising from the ground and falling from the ceiling.

It will be interesting to see what Russia, a country rich with its fair share of triumphs and troubles, decides to exhibit during their version of the Opening Ceremonies.

Absurd Sports

Of course, you have the stereotypical winter sports like hockey and ice skating, but then you have the fun ones. This year, those include curling and skeleton events. Curling, the most unknown and yet intriguing of the winter Olympic sports, can best be described by the phrase “intense ice sweeping.” Originated in Scotland, a team of two to four curlers use brooms and brushes to slow down a ‘stone’ so that it lands within a bull’s-eye. The team with the stones closest to the bull’s-eye wins the game.
Skeleton sledding is more comprehensible and is worth mentioning solely because of its name. Much like luging and tobogganing, one who sleds the skeleton event starts at the top of a track and goes down the course headfirst on a sled in the vague shape of a, yep, skeleton. The winner in this event is whoever makes it down the hill the fastest. Out of the three sledding events, this one is considered the riskiest despite the fact that, during the last Olympics, a Georgian luger had a fatal accident during training.

Women’s Ski Jump

After years of trials and tribulations, 2014 will be the first year in which women will compete in the ski jump during the Winter Games. The United States is sending three competitors: Sarah Hendrickson, a 19-year-old prodigy who has won nine out of thirteen world cup titles; Lindsey Van, who has over 40 Continental Cup podiums at 29; and Jessica Jerome, who began her crusade for equality after being granted the chance to test the jump itself in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002.
Officials’ main reason for keeping women from competing during the Olympics was their health and safety. Women tend to have more knee problems throughout their lives, as Hendrickson, still in the late stages of recovery from a horrible knee injury, can attest. The world will be watching to see if all their misery was a step in the right direction.

Returning Favorites and New Faces

Just like any other country competing in the Winter Games, Americans are already hedging their bets and setting their DVRs to watch their favorite athletes shine on the global stage. X-Games and Winter Olympics veteran Shaun White will once again compete on the snowboard half pipe. Shandi Davis will go for a third consecutive speed skating gold medal, practically unheard of in the sport. Skier Hannah Kearney will attempt to defend the gold medal she won in Vancouver during the women’s moguls.
But, similar to games past, there are new contenders entering the picture, namely Gracie Gold and Mikaela Shiffrin. At 18, Gold is the States’ best chance at receiving a medal of any kind on the individual figure skating podium while Shiffrin, also 18, tries to fill the shoes of Lindsey Vonn in the alpine skiing event.

With all that has been going on in Sochi, from debacles concerning the Olympic Village to threats of terrorism, it’s safe to say that these Games are something for the history books. All I can say is “may the odds be ever in their favors.”

I'm a journalism major, French minor with an unhealthy obsession with bad TV shows, photography, and reading. I love to write one-act plays in what little free time I have, but sometimes the writing spirits don't move me.

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