The Games of the 20th Winter Olympiad

The United States had unprecedented success in the Salt Lake City Games four years ago, winning a record 34 total medals. With the opening ceremonies kicking off the 16-day Olympic Games in Torino, Italy on Friday, the New University has compiled a sport-by-sport preview of the Winter Olympics.

Alpine Skiing
Alpine skiing events measure a man’s or woman’s worth in speed and maneuverability. The downhill is pure speed. Slalom events (super-G, giant slalom, slalom) mean sharper turns and shorter courses. The United States is boasting two standouts, Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves, for the men’s team and a well-rounded women’s team led by Lindsey Kildow. Miller and Rahlves will face Austria’s Hermann Maier, who wants what injury stole from him in the 2002 Games; a chance to further his legend. Kildow and company will try dethroning Croatia’s Janica Kostelic and Sweden’s Anja Paerson, the World Cup overall champion since 2004.

Summer boasts the ridiculously tiresome-sounding decathlon, but winter knows better; you don’t need 10 sports, just two: skiing and shooting. The biathlon combines these seemingly unrelated skills into one thrilling sport with individual, sprint, pursuit, mass start and relay events. Cross country skeet hunters to watch out for this year: Uschi Disl and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. Germany’s Disl started winning Olympic gold medals in biathlon when your average UC Irvine senior was 7 years old. As an individual, she’s won more women’s biathlon medals than any other country.
Bjorndalen’s record is no less impressive; the 5-feet, 10-inch Norwegian won all four men’s biathlon gold medals in the 2002 games, and is thus a gold medal favorite for each of the five events in this year.

On par with stories like ‘Cool Runnings,’ the 2002 Games were groundbreaking as women competed in bobsled for the first time