From hirsute, muscular Canadians to the funkiest Scandinavians in all of curling, here’s what you should be checking out at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The 2014 Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia. Along with snow and sports, this year the games are also surrounded by controversy. Not even beginning to take into account terrorism threats, Russia’s recent ruling surrounding gay rights (the new ruling being that there are now no gay rights in Russia) and widespread talk of boycotting, it looks as though we’ll be lucky if there’s anywhere to hold the games at all.
But providing the games do go ahead safely and you do decide to watch, here are a few things you should look out for.
1. The Jamaican bobsleigh team
It’s Cool Runnings, but even cooler. Jamaica’s two man bobsled team has qualified for the Winter Olympics for the first time in 12 years, and it’s largely thanks to the internet that they can get there. Through crowdfunding and dogecoin, they managed to raise the £67,000 they needed to make it Sochi. An entire generation now gets to see what was only ever a classic movie to them (but was in fact based loosely on the 1988 Calgary Olympics) come to life.
2. Norway’s curling uniforms
Team GB is currently ranked third in the world when it comes to curling and they’re heading to Sochi with gold in their sights. That’s reason enough to watch this event. It’s something we’re good at, and while London 2012 proved that Great Britain can surpass all (typically low) expectations and bring home the medals, winter sports aren’t necessarily our forte. The real stand-out, though, is Norway. How could they not stand out? Those outfits are magnificent. Four men in multi-coloured zig-zags sweeping giant stones along the ice? What’s not to love?
3. Canada’s bobsleigh team
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? There’s not much more I can say. I’m told that they’ll take part in the event itself wearing slightly more clothing than in the linked photo, but I’m still holding out hope of seeing four rugged, bearded, muscular men hurtling down a mountain almost naked in the snow.
4. Ice hockey
Ice hockey is a sport played all across the UK, but it doesn’t receive a whole lot of media attention. The top players tend to head to America and Canada, Russia, or elsewhere in Europe. The Olympics will drag this sport back onto the BBC and give you a chance to see the best players in the world. Also, sometimes it all goes wrong, and it’s hilarious.
If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that people love to watch others do potentially dangerous stuff. Welcome to the skeleton, where athletes throw themselves face down, head first down a frozen track on a tiny sled and experience forces up to 5 g. It’s breathtaking to watch, and it’s another thing Britain is good at. The current Olympic gold medallist in women’s skeleton is Amy Williams, the first British individual gold medallist at the Winter Olympics for 30 years. She’s now retired, but her efforts mean Team GB is still heading to Sochi as the defending world champion.
Featured image: Razvan Marescu (via Flickr)
Inset images: Buena Vista. VancityAllie.com; ACG; Nottingham Trent University; Alejandro Mejia Greene (all via Flickr)