Winter Olympic Sports for Dummies


Ellie Chan

FOR THE WIN: With the help of The Howler’s flawless guide to the Winter Olympics, junior Tiana Gao takes gold in Short Track Speed Skating.

Rachel Yokota, Sports Editor

Ah, the Winter Olympics. It comes and goes every four years and perpetually lives in the shadow of the superior Summer Olympics. Winter sports vary from nearly killing yourself by experiencing 5 G’s of force while sledding to nearly killing yourself during a 20km endurance skiing race to nearly killing yourself while sweeping ice with a broom really really fast. But if there’s one conclusion that you should take away from these Games, it should be that you, dear reader, can play those sports just as well as these nationally ranked athletes who have spent decades refining their skills. (Probably.) Who cares that four people have died practicing Winter Olympic sports? Time is of the essence! Leave your mark on history and begin practicing for your future gold medal with the captivating sports below.



The sport banned from the Olympics not once, but twice, for being “too dangerous” is the ideal amateur sport for Northwood hopefuls to try out. Skeleton is a sledding race in which athletes actively decide to not do things the safe way. Skeleton athletes must have ignored the lifeguards at the pool warning them to jump in feet first, as they willingly slide down icy tracks head first at speeds pushing 80 mph. Athletes also can experience up to five G’s of force, (for reference, astronauts leaving Earth only experience four G) and the tiniest of movements can send athletes flying into a wall. Clearly, they call this sport skeleton for a reason.

As only 17 skeleton practice tracks exist in the world, students may have trouble securing a practice center to replicate the sport at home. Instead, those hoping to become the nation’s next skeleton should look towards the handicap access ramps on campus to practice their sliding. There’s a slight chance you will need to use them frequently in the future, so it’s better to get familiar with them now. Once students become more confident in their skills, students can make the jump from access ramps to sliding down Knott’s Berry Farm’s Xcelerator with a skateboard. 


Short Track Speed Skating

To the untrained eye, Short Track Speed Skating looks like what would happen if off-brand Marvel superheroes joined “Disney on Ice.” But with a closer look, you’ll realize that no, Spiderman has not decided to make a career change, but the sport is actually a handful of athletes wearing tight body suits skating around an oval rink. Competitors hug the sides of the course as they constantly contend with each other for first place, pushing ahead during tight turns and passing others in an instant. When you watch the sport, you can’t help but feel it’s a bit reminiscent of Northwood’s very own academic environment, with desperate students battling each other for extra credit and the coveted honor of being the teacher’s pet. With this in mind, if one wants to prepare themselves for the intense thrill and stress short-track speed skaters feel on the rink, they could simply attend a Northwood socratic seminar.  



When two winter sports love each other very much, sometimes an absolutely brutal child will be born. In this case, skiing and rifle shooting gave birth to the biathlon: a grueling cross country skiing race 10-20 kilometers long with brief pauses to fire at target ranges with targets the size of Popsicle sticks. The issue with replicating biathlons is that Irvine’s weather cannot create the heavy snow or below freezing temperatures biathlons are usually held in. However, Irvine has the next best thing to snow: bubble machines! Set these machines up around your local golf course (even if Irvine doesn’t have snow, it definitely has high-income residents).



To be honest, curling looks a bit stupid. Other sports require years of high-intensity training as athletes shape bodies and minds for excruciating pain. Curling looks like what you would do on a Saturday afternoon for a bit of fun. 

In curling, one athlete slides a granite stone down a sheet of ice while their teammates furiously sweep the ice in front of the rock’s path as if their lives depend on it. Hopefully, the rock will slide into a circle painted on the ice, or maybe knock the other team’s rock out of it. Obviously, curling sounds as exciting as differentiating between anaphora and anastrophe for your H10 class. But on a brighter note, curling might be the easiest winter sport to practice. For an exact replication of the conditions curlers experience at the extremely exclusive Olympics, head down to your local senior center and ask to start up a game of shuffleboard.