Can You Believe These Are Olympic Sports?

Ski Halfpipe is a thing now?

Feb. 4, 2014— -- More than 190 million people worldwide are expected to tune into the Sochi Winter Olympics. With more than 15 sports, 98 medal events and 85 hours of daily coverage on television and online, that's a lot of rings to watch.

Here's a sampling of nine Winter Olympic sports that will confuse, amaze or inspire you.

Related: Ski Jumper Aiming High At Sochi Olympics


More than half of Canadians watch TV coverage of curling, a sport that baffles Americans.

Fundamentally, the object of curling is to sweep your stones down the sheet and move them closer than your opponent to the button of the house. In plain English: four players per team use their brooms to sweep eight oversized pucks known as stones across the ice towards the center, or "button," of a goal known as the "house."

The drama comes from ice droplets known as "pebbles" that form on the ice causing the stones to deviate or "curl" off a straight path. Also, there's a lot of shouting.

Related: Norway's Olympic Curling Team Shows Off Pants

Ice Dancing

Ice dancing is another Winter Olympic enigma. It's like ballroom dancing on ice with lots of lifts and spins but no throws or jumps. Some people question its status as an Olympic sport, but there's no denying its sequined fabulousness. Besides, The U.S. team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis are the reigning world champions and favored to take home the gold in Sochi.

Figure Skating Team Event

It's graceful, it's athletic – and now figure skating is a team sport. Right before the games, 10 nations will name one representative each from men's and women's singles, pairs and yes, ice dance skaters. Throughout the games, all scores from every program will be added into a single tally. The team with the highest score wins gold. Create your own brackets and follow along.

Related: Big Upset for Figure Skater

Ski Halfpipe

Ski halfpipe is one of three new ski events to makes its Olympic debut in Sochi. It works exactly the same way as snowboard halfpipe with two routines of flips, jumps and turns on a 22 foot high curved ramp. Skiers can grab up to 20 feet of air and perform up to five tricks per run.

Snowboard Slopestyle

If skiers can boogie on a halfpipe, boarders can fly down the slopes, because why not inject a little X Games into the Olympics? Competitors navigate 3 obstacles called jibs and 3 jump areas. They're scored based on the judge's overall impression of the quality of their tricks factoring in speed, height, variety and difficulty of jumps and whether or not they stick the landing.

Biathlon Mixed Relay

With more than a billion TV spectators each season, biathlon is the most viewed sport in Europe according to Max Cobb, the chief executive officer of U.S. Biathlon Association. And just in case watching athletes stop to shoot a rifle before racing away on cross country skis doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat, the Sochi Olympics has added a new mixed relay event involving the top two men and women from each competing country.

Typically, Norway, Russia, France and Germany dominate the sport. But in the relay, Cobb said that the U.S. and Slovenia could medal.

Luge Mixed Relay

Mixed Luge Relay may be the sleeper hit of this Olympics, claims Sandy Caligiore, the spokesman for the U.S. Luge Association.

Here's how it works: Each nation puts in one team consisting of a men's, women's and mixed pair sled. First, the women's team screams down the long, tube-like track reaching speeds over 70 miles per hour. When the sled reaches the bottom, a team member sits up and smacks a yellow pad to signal the men's team to go. When they hit the bottom, the mixed pair sled takes the anchor run.

In general the Germans own luge, said Caligiore. But thanks to start flubs, crashes and failures to hit the pad properly, the relay is anyone's race.


In Luge, sliders fly down the track on their backs, feet first. Skeleton ups the ante by positioning athletes face down, face first -- on a sled the size of a cafeteria tray. It's terrifying, exhilarating, and the Brits are jolly good at it. England is the only country to have won a skeleton medal each of the five times the event has been held at the Winter Olympics, according to the BBC. Both their men's and woman's teams look good to medal in Sochi.


Skijoring made its one and only Olympic appearance in the 1928 as an exhibition sport at the St. Moritz, Switzerland games. As one of only two winter Olympic equestrian sports in history, it's rules defy description. And it's definitely ready for a comeback.

Related: Cameron Mathison Goes 'Skijoring'