The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea starts this Thursday. The Winter Olympics has less sports than the Summer Olympics and with it a smaller audience. The names of the sports of curling and speed skating are well known, yet their rules are not.
Curling is a team sport that is played on a sheet of ice. Most people compare curling to shuffle board, only on the ice and with a team. The teams of four players push a 40 pound granite rock down the ice and try to get it as close to a target as possible. Two teams compete against each other, and the team who gets closest to the target wins. One player throws the rock and the others sweep in front of it to try and help the rock keep straight and hit the target. If no one swept in front of the rock then the rock would curl, or veer left and right. The sweeping keeps the rock straight. Each team throws sixteen rocks, with each player throwing twice. Scoring the game is the team who has more rocks closer to the center than the other team.
When people hear the sport of speed skating they think that it is pretty self explanatory. Speed skating is essentially track on ice with players skating around the ice arena at different distances. The races are separated between men and women with 7 different events, 5 individual, 1 team pursuit and 1 mass start. The team pursuit is when three athletes start on opposite sides of the oval and skate six or eight laps. The winning team is the team who has all three athletes cross first. The winning team moves on to the next round and the losing team is eliminated. The mass start event is a sixteen lap race where all 24 athletes race at once instead of only having two athletes racing in elimination style. Mass starts also have sprint points which athletes can gain during laps four, eight, twelve, and sixteen. In each of these laps the top three finishers get extra points. These points are added to the points that the first, second, and third place athlete get.
The Winter 2018 Olympics are starting in less than a week and there are many sports to watch that are not always in the spotlight. Curling and speed skating are two of them that will be in the spotlight over the next two weeks.