Sports

Sound like an expert in obscure Winter Olympics sports

In five minutes or less

We don’t blame you if you don’t know much about Winter Olympic sports. But the Games are here. And to be the expert in the break room at work, you’ve got to do your homework.

Here’s what you need to know about some of the lesser-known sports:

Curling

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What the Olympics calls it

“A team sport played by two teams of four players on a rectangular sheet of ice.”

What we call it

People with brooms watching other people with brooms wave them in front of a stone as it slides down the ice.

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The basics

Two teams alternate throwing stones toward a circular target. The object is to get your stones closer to the center than your opponent does. Players move long-handled brushes or brooms back and forth to “sweep” the ice to guide the stones.

Skeleton

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What the Olympics calls it

It “involves plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled.”

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What we call it

There’s got to be a better way to get your thrills.

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The basics

Competitors hop on their sleds and hurtle themselves on top of the ice on a track that's between 3,900 and 5,200 feet long. They reach speeds as fast as 60 mph. The fastest racer over a combined total of four runs wins.

Luge

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What the Olympics calls it

“Luge riders hurtle down a slippery ice track at great speed, relying on reflexes for steering. ... However, they have no protection should they make an error.”

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What we call it

See skeleton.

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The basics

It’s pretty much like skeleton, except you’re sliding around on the ice feet-first on your back, instead of laying on your stomach. The track’s longer (just less than 1 mile for men and about three-quarters of a mile for women), the lugers reach faster speeds (as fast as 90 mph) and there’s no weight limit.

Biathlon

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What the Olympics calls it

“Biathlon combines the power and aggression of cross-country skiing with the precision and calm of marksmanship.”

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What we call it

Going for really long runs in the snow in your skis, then, when you’re good and tired, lying down on the ground and shooting at stuff.

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The basics

A long time ago, deep in Scandinavia, people put on their skis and went hunting through the snow with rifles on their shoulders. And then some genius thought: This would make a great Olympic sport! And that’s how the biathlon was born: part cross-country ski race, part shooting contest.