Not to throw any shade at the Winter Olympics (we love them!), but many Americans have no idea what events actually occur there. We compiled a list of current events and then added some fake ones. Can you tell which one is which?


Skeleton is where the competitor rides head-first and prone (lying face down) on a flat sled. It is normally run on an ice track that allows the sled to gain speed by gravity. Skeleton is so-named as the first metal sleds introduced in 1892 were said to resemble a human skeleton.

Luge is where a competitor or two-person team rides a flat sled while lying supine (face up) and feet first. The sport is usually contested on a specially designed ice track that allows gravity to increase the sled’s speed. The winner normally completes the route with the fastest overall time. Fun fact: doubles is technically considered a mixed event, but it is almost always competed by a team of two men.

Skijoring (pronounced SKI-UR-ING) is a sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog (or dogs) or a motor vehicle. The Olympic version is a skier being pulled by a horse over 10 kilometers.

Sled dog race. Similar to the annual Iditarod, a 1000 mile race in Alaska, this is where a long distance race occurs over multiple nights using dog teams of 10 dog per sled and one driver. The Olympics isn’t anything like the Iditarod distance. It covers 200 miles in a two night event.

Nordic Combined is the combination of two disciplines: a 15km cross-country skiing race followed by ski jumping. Whoever earned the most points from both competitions won the event. Since the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, the scoring uses the Gundersen method. (Meaning the 15 km cross country portion would go from an interval start race to a pursuit race, so that whoever crossed the finish line first won the event.)

Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circuits. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game.

Short Track Speed Skating is a form of competitive ice speed skating. In competitions, four skaters skate on a small oval track inside a 60 metre rink which is the same size as an international-sized ice hockey rink.

Sprint Speed Skating is a form of competitive ice speed skating. The 100 meter track is the same as the one used by long track speed  skating, but all the races are run in teams of 4. Each skater skates at full speed for as long as they can endure before passing to one of the relay teammates. Each race is skated over 1 kilometer. Sprint speed skating is also called the Pursuit Skate.

Winter pentathlon is a variant of the modern pentathlon at the Summer Olympics. It includes cross-country skiing, shooting, downhill skiing, fencing and horse riding.

Full Contact X Snowboarding. This demo sport from ESPN’s Winter X Games pits four snowboarders in a downhill race. Each competitor can make whatever contact they want with any other racer, including pushing them off the course, unless it is in the last 50 meters near the spectators. Winner is the first to make to the finish line.


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