The 2018 Winter Olympics are underway, so, if you’re like me, you’ll be glued to the TV for the next few weeks.
The Summer Olympics are way less interesting than the Winter Olympics because … ummm … bobsledding, guys. That sport is the most amazing sport in the world. It even exceeds the excitement of sports like NASCAR and professional wrestling.
So as you sit and prepare to enjoy the exciting events—curling, ski jumping, snowboarding and figure skating—I encourage you to check out some of the other sports you might not have watched before. The Winter Olympics are full of obscure, tertiary winter sports that will delight the senses and remind you why you live in a temperate climate.
Here are a few of my picks for underrated games.
“Storm the snow hut”
Formerly “storm the igloo,” this snowbound version of the popular children’s game “storm the castle” is now called, simply, “storm the snow hut” because of complaints that the use of the word “igloo” in this context was offensive to the indigenous peoples of the Arctic region. Here’s how it works: A baby seal is clubbed unconscious, and teams of four “stormers” must climb an icy ravine, navigate a treacherously frozen pond and avoid the cold, deathly grasp of an ice troll in order to enter the snow hut. Again, thanks to complaints about the game from activists, instead of a ritualistic carving of the seal’s carcass while alive, the team members must now attempt to revive the seal from unconsciousness using a resuscitation technique of their choosing. This is the only game in the Winter Olympics that garners a PG-13 rating.
“Hurling toboggan, Nordic entwined”
If you watch one event this year, make it the desperately tedious “hurling toboggan, Nordic entwined” marathon. Beginning at dusk on the sixth day, individuals compete in a octathlon featuring, in order: curling, figure skating, alpine skiing, snow hut storming, sledding, archery and full-contact hockey. The final game is a climb to the top of a human pyramid and shouting the host city phrase, Korean in this case: “그래, 눈이 최고야!” (translated into English as “Yeah, snow is the best!”). I’ll have the popcorn ready for this one. It’s a hoot. Many of the participants are injured during figure skating.
“Acadian long stare”
Picture an iconic image representing those who live in the elements of the true north: a man standing at the edge of a frozen body of water, his gaze staring into the middle distance. It might not be the most exciting sport at this year’s games, but you have to admit that it takes a skill many of us don’t possesses—patience. Members of each tean will seek out a body of water and set camp for the week. They will attempt to stare—without blinking—into the horizon for hours. A group of comedians will pay random visits to the participants. Their job is to induce irritating laughter with juvenile humor. Like at a bass fishing tournament, the participant with the longest collection of successful stares will win the contest.
Years before oxygen tanks and diving suits, the only way to snag a fresh fish was to cut a hole in the ice and jump in. The game of “ice swimming” has evolved in surprising ways. Since the early ’90s, the sport has featured a similar layout to the first two levels of the original Super Mario Bros. Nintendo game. Participants jump into small holes in a frozen body of water and swim under the ice to the nearest checkpoint. They pop up through another hole and jump into the next hole, repeating the process until the course is complete. Unfortunately, much of the action takes place underneath the ice, which has hurt the popularity of the sport. Now, with HD cameras, we can observe how intense and dangerous the sport can be. And before you ask, there isn’t a giant, fire-breathing Bowser at the end of the level. That would be ridiculous. The final stage requires participants to ascend the steps of an igloo castle and jump onto a greased ice pole to get the ceremonial flag.
“Blood on the ice”
The highly skilled ice hockey teams are filled with future National Hockey League players. And although the sport of hockey gets much of the attention, a crowd favorite is the more obscure hockey fighting event early in the games. Fighting is considered a tool in hockey. Certain players are tasked with being enforcers on the ice—making sure the other team isn’t taking advantage of skilled players. Their presence, though controversial, is an important part of the game. To highlight their efforts, a hockey fighting tournament takes place. Enforcers from each country skate to center ice and drop their gloves. They hang on to each other’s jerseys and throw haymaker punches until a player loses balance or the fight becomes too one-sided. See the video below.
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