Now that the 2014 Olympics are in full-swing, you might have some decisions to make. Between the live-streams on NBC Sports Live Extra, the coverage on NBC, and still more coverage on the NBC Sports Channel, it can be a little overwhelming when deciding what events you want to watch. But, I’ll make it easy for you. If you’re like me – which, let’s be honest, you should be – you only want to watch the sports that make you go “HOLY BALLS! That was SO badass!” Ain’t nobody got time for ice dancing, homie. So here you are: the 5 most insanely badass events in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. For optimum results, chug three Red Bulls before viewing these events.
#5 – Ski Jumping
What’s more badass than going down a steep-as-hell hill at around 80 miles per hour and then soaring 200-plus meters in the air before you have to come back down to the boring ol’ solid ground? NOT MUCH. Ski Jumping is one of those sports that is just inherently badass. You can’t be a pansy to do it. Throwing your speedsuit-clad body into the air at speeds that lots of people are afraid to approach while driving isn’t for the weak.
While men have been taking flight for damn-near 100 years in the Olympics, 2014 marks the first time that women have been allowed to win a medal for their country in this adrenaline junkie special. The ladies will put themselves into the stratosphere for the first time on February 11th, and you should be watching. Meanwhile, the men’s “normal hill” contest has already taken place…but that’s the lame version anyway. The much-more epic, and aptly-titled “large hill” contest still awaits. The only reason Ski Jumping isn’t higher on this list is the fact that it’s pretty rare to see someone wipe out in devastating fashion…and that is what makes a sport truly badass, right?
Ski Jumping: Not recommended for those who fear heights.
#4 – Short Track Speed Skating
This is a sport we’ve almost all seen in the last few Olympic Games, what with the celebrity appeal of Apolo Ohno and that fantastic soul patch he sports. But make no mistake, short track speed skating isn’t glamorous. It meets the criterion that Ski Jumping does not: accidents, crashes, and wipeouts GALORE! Short track is essentially a group of men or women with dangerous, sharp blades on their feet, skating as fast as they possibly can around a (surprise) short track. What makes the sport turn into utter carnage is the fact that all parties involved are constantly trying to cut each other off to maintain the inside edge. This would be boring if they were just running, but no! They’re on SKATES! So, any time competitors bump into each other, they inevitably struggle to maintain their balance, sometimes resulting in the mutual ruin of the entire field. It’s fast, it’s high-stakes, and it’s a contact sport for all intents and purposes. The individual events are great fun, but shit gets REALLY real in the relay events…when all the aforementioned factors are combined with teams tagging in and out in chaotic fashion.
Short track for both men and women gets underway today, and continues for most of the next week. Enjoy the anarchy.
Just your average short track race…you know, where everyone gets OWNED
#3 – Snowboard & Ski Halfpipe
Yeah, this one gets all da bitches and all the glory. But still, it is incredibly badass, without a shadow of a doubt. What makes halfpipe so colossally badass is that, above all other Olympic sports, it has the holyshitIcouldNEVERdothat! factor. Ski Jumping? I mean, yeah, if I trained, I could probably DO it. Short track? Yeah, I wouldn’t be any good, but I could still finish a race. I’ve snowboarded since I was a little kid. Can I get three feet out of the pipe? Nope. Can I do a trick in the halfpipe? NOPE. Can I do a double cork or a 1260? NOPENOPENOPE. These dudes (and ladies) are absolutely ridiculous, skiing and snowboarding. The amount of strength, coordination, and knowing-where-the-hell-you-are-in-space it takes to do the shit these athletes do is simply mindblowing. I might be praising a sport you’re going to watch anyway, but it’s worth extra praise. Halfpipe athletes are superhuman, man.
You can see men’s and women’s snowboarding halfpipe events on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the men and women skiing in the halfpipe won’t take to the slopes until February 18th. Watch it all and marvel.
#2 – Skicross and Boardercross
These events are incredibly new to the Olympic Games, as Boardercross made it’s Olympic debut in 2006, and Skicross athletes didn’t get to take to the Olympic stage until 2010. Nonetheless, these sports are about as badass as badass gets. Technically, these events are races, but the competitors ain’t battling the clock. No, that would not be badass. Instead, the riders go in heats of four, where the top two advance. As you might expect, nobody wants to be in the group of two that doesn’t make it to the next round. So, it’s essentially a giant clusterfuck, as the riders navigate a steep, fast race course replete with sharp turns and huge jumps. In any given Boardercross or Skicross race, there is a 92.78% chance that someone is going to eat shit. There is a 64.82% chance that at least two competitors are gonna go down in
flames ice. Yes, those statistics were made up, but I swear, they’re pretty accurate. Just watch.
And THAT, my friends, is fantastic entertainment. These events aren’t only badass, they are a heart-pounding, suspenseful exercise in adrenaline, as the winner is never a certainty…just ask snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, who lost back-to-back events in the X Games and Olympics by being in first place and wiping out on the final big jump, within feet of the finish line. Nothing is guaranteed in the good old ‘Cross events, and that makes them very badass. You can see the Skicross starting on February 20th, and the Boardercross on the 17th.
They’re technically different events, but Luge and Skeleton both require a few things: speed, balls, and badassness. There is little you can do athletically that seems more inherently terrifying than throwing yourself down a steep, icy race course at speeds that exceed 90 miles per hour, with just a tiny sled to separate you from the ice, and a helmet to protect you, should something go wrong. As you may recall, in 2010, something went VERY wrong, as Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia (the country, duh) lost his life during a brutal crash in Luge. Hell, just a few days ago, another Luge athlete – Indian competitor Shiva Keshavan – came close to a massive wipeout, when he pulled out the most insane, badass maneuver I’ve ever seen EVER. Check it out.
The distinction between Luge and Skeleton is simple: in Luge, athletes ride feet-first on their backs; in Skeleton, athletes ride face-first on their stomachs. And while those differences distinguish the two sports, they have one major theme in common: only total fucking badasses are allowed to compete in either event. You can watch the Luge starting today, and the Skeleton events will begin on the 13th.
Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with a POV Skeleton ride to make you thoroughly appreciate the insanity of the sport.
Tags : 2014, 2014 Winter Olympics, Apolo Ohno, Boardercross, featured, Halfpipe, Luge, NBC, Olympic, Olympic Games, Russia, Short track speed skating, Skeleton, Ski cross, Ski Jump, Ski Jumping, Skicross, Skiing, Snowboarding, Sochi, Sochi Olympics, Speed Skating, sports, Sports Takes, Winter Olympics