Dec 20, 2017

Dashing through the Snow!

 

For decades, the image of a snow-covered mountain with a man whizzing past on a jet-ski has conjured up thoughts of the Swiss Alps or the American Rockies. Today, Winter Sports are transcending these Western winter destinations and are moving East! Asia is beginning to take on winter sports like never before.

A major catalyst for this change has been the Olympic Games. With South Korea hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, and China being the host for Winter Olympics 2022, major changes are happening. Although Asia haven’t had much experience when it comes to winter sports, enthusiasm and potential are both in abundance.

 

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The XXIV Winter Olympic Games, Beijing 2022

A multi-sport event that will take place in Beijing and towns in the neighbouring Hebei province, Beijing 2022 is scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20, 2022. This will be the third consecutive Olympic Games held in East Asia, after Pyeongchang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic games.

Beijing has had experience hosting the 2008 Summer Games as well, and thus becomes the first city in history to host both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. This is the first time the Winter Olympics will ever be held in China and the fourth time in East Asia. It also becomes the largest city ever to host the Winter Games.

 

Olympic Winter Sports

First introduced in the Winter Olympic Games in 1936, the Alpine Skiing sporting event is an individual downhill skiing race. The major difference between Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing equipment is the free-heel bindings of the latter, using which it is relatively easy to walk while wearing the equipment. Alpine skiing therefore results in a requirement for mechanical assistance in getting to the top of the hill.

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The Biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting and was first introduced at the Winter Olympic Games in 1924. Deeply rooted in the skiing traditions of Scandinavia, where early inhabitants revered the Norse god Ullr as both the ski god and the hunting god, a combination of skiing and shooting was treated as alternative training for the Norse military. The Women’s Biathlon event was first introduced in 1992, in the Winter Olympics.

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Bobsleigh, or Bobsled, is a winter sport in which teams of two or four teammates make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. The timed runs are combined to calculate the final score. Using adapted delivery sleds to carry passengers, bobsledding was soon banned from the highways to protect passers-by. The adventurous and wealthy built the first bobsled tracks in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Competition naturally followed!

Cross-Country Skiing is a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, rather than using ski lifts or other forms of assistance. While Cross-Country Skiing is widely practiced as a sport and recreational activity, some still use it as a means of transportation. Competitive cross-country skiing is one of the Nordic skiing sports.

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Players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles, in the sport of Curling. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice.

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Figure Skating was the first winter sport included in the Olympics, in 1908. It’s a sport in which individuals, duos, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. The four Olympic disciplines are men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating and ice dancing. Skaters’ programs may include spins, jumps, elements they have learned from moves in the field, lifts, throw jumps, death spirals and other elements or moves.

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Freestyle Skiing that’s part of the Winter Olympics; a skiing discipline comprising aerials, moguls, cross, half-pipe and slopestyle. It can consist of a skier performing aerial flips and spins, and can include skiers sliding rails and boxes on their skis. It is also commonly referred to as free skiing and jibbing.

Ice Hockey is believed to have evolved from simple stick and ball games played in the 18th and 19th century United Kingdom and elsewhere. The sport was played for the first time in the Olympic Games in 1920. In Canada, the United States, Scandinavia and some other European countries the sport is known simply as hockey; the name ‘ice hockey’ is used in places where ‘hockey’ more often refers to field hockey.

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Luge is a one-person or team race held in a luge – a small one- or two-person sled on which one sleds face up and feet-first. Lugers can reach speeds of 140 km per hour (87 mph) and compete against a timer. On artificial tracks, they are timed to a thousandth of a second, making luge one of the most precisely timed sports in the world.

Nordic Combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in cross-country skiing and ski jumping.

A winter sliding sport in which the participant rides a small sled, known as a Skeleton Bobsled, down a frozen track while lying face down, the race always involves single riders. Like bobsleigh, but unlike luge, the race begins with a running start from the opening gate at the top of the course. Skeleton Bobsled racing will be added permanently for men and women to the Olympic program for the 2002 Winter Olympics. During elite racing the rider experiences forces up to 5 g and reaches speeds over 130 km/h (80 mph).

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Ski Jumping is a winter sport which is as it sounds – a ski slope or jumping run, with a take-off table and a landing hill. Ski Jumping was first included in the Winter Olympics in 1924, with the Women’s event introduced at the Olympics in 2014. Interestingly, Ski Jumping can also be performed in the summer on an in-run where the tracks are made from porcelain and the grass on the slope is covered with plastic, combined with water.

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Snowboarding is a recreational activity and Olympic and Paralympic sport that involves descending a snow-covered slope while standing on a snowboard attached to a rider's feet. The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. It was developed in the United States in the 1960s, became a Winter Olympic Sport at Nagano in 1998 and first featured in the Winter Paralympics at Sochi in 2014.

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Speed Skating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in travelling a certain distance on skates. Types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating. In the Olympic Games, long-track speed skating is usually referred to as just ‘speed skating’, while short-track speed skating is known as ‘short track’.

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The upcoming Winter Olympic Games are bringing the nascent winter sports scene to Asia in force. The continent is all geared up, taking the help of international experts to bring East Asian winter resorts up to par. Private organisations, governments and the public have all come together to create a new image of Asia: the next big thing in the field of winter sports.

 

With great ski resorts burgeoning in China, Japan and Korea, East Asian winters have never been cooler!

 

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