We’re just days away from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PeyongChang, South Korea, but for the nearly 3,000 athletes who will compete in this year’s games, the journey has been a long one.
It’s not every day that someone gets to compete at the Olympic level, and while recognizable sports like figure skating and ice hockey will command the attention of viewers across the globe in the next few weeks, there are a multitude of other events worth tuning in to.
What happens when you combine cross country skiing with target shooting? Though the sport wasn’t officially a part of the Winter Games until 1960 in Squaw Valley, it has existed in some fashion since the 1800s. The sport derives from survivalist’s tactics practiced in the woodlands of Scandinavia, when hunting was prevalent.
Nowadays, athletes stick to target shooting in a series of events that are separated into men’s, women’s, and mixed categories, and range in length from 10 kilometers to 20 kilometers.
If throwing yourself down a sheet of ice on nothing more than a small board sounds like fun, then skeleton might be the sport for you. As one of the earliest winter sports, athletes race on sleds down an ice-covered track.
While sledding in some form has likely existed since the 1600s, as a competitive sport, skeleton only made two appearances in the games—1928 and 1948—until it was reintroduced in 2002.
Viewers can expect to see both ski jumping and cross-country skiing during the Winter Olympic games, but you can also see the Nordic combined event, which is an amalgamation of the two.
Skiing in nearly all its forms has been a part of the Winter Olympics since the very first games in 1924, including Nordic combined which unsurprisingly began in Norway. As a means of travel during brutally snowy winters, Norwegians had become adept at the art of skiing as early as the late 1800s.
The modern Nordic combined event is split into individual and team categories, and has been won primarily by Norwegian competitors, with a few exceptions.
With more media coverage than ever before, including real-time coverage on all events, it’s possible to catch every single minute of the Olympic games—from figure skating to curling. And who knows, one of these obscure events might just become your new favorite.