Watch Winter Olympics 2018 Skeleton Live TV>>>>
The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea are right around the corner! That means it's time to watch sports you might not have seen in four years. To help you feel at least a little more informed—either to impress your friends or fake your way through a conversation with an actual expert—SI will be providing rookie's guides to each of the 15 sports. These will be published daily, Monday through Friday, from December 4–22. What is skeleton? Skeleton is not a competition where each athlete is put through an X-ray machine so they can see who has the most bones. That would be so much more boring than what skeleton actually is—men and women flying down a bobsled track at 90 mph with their face an inch off the ice. It’s basically just like luge, except instead of laying on their backs, the competitors are positioned face-down, head-first. The sledder’s lower legs dangle off the back of the sled so they have to make sure they don’t hit the ice while also staying as flat as possible to maintain peak aerodynamic flow. You can steer by shifting your weight. How was the sport invented? Skeleton traces its roots to an ice track in the Swiss resort town of St. Moritz, where British and American tourists began sliding head-first down a track called the Cresta Run before the turn of the 20th century. (You can still ride the Cresta Run—if you a member of its club, and not a woman.) When did it come to the Olympics? St. Moritz hosted the Winter Games in 1928 and 1948, so skeleton was included due to its history there and the Cresta Run was used as the track. It didn’t return until the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Why do they call it skeleton? I always thought the name was derived from the dangerous nature of the sport, but it actually comes from the equipment. The first sleds used in skeleton were the bones of a bobsled. How does the competition work? A total of 50 people will qualify, 30 men and 20 women, though the field won’t be set until mid-January. There are only six medals awarded—gold, silver and bronze for men and women. The winner is whoever clocks the fastest time after four runs.
Is it dangerous?
Holy crap, yes. Not only are you hurtling down the track at speeds of over 90 mph, the sled can weigh as much 90 pounds (though there are rules limiting the combined maximum weight of the sled and its rider). The last thing you want is to lose control of a heavy object with sharp metal blades and get trapped in a frozen tube with it. The only protection the sledders wear is a helmet, which has a chin guard in case you dip you head to low and scrape your face on the ice. Who is good at it? The U.S. has won the most Olympic medals (eight), followed by Great Britain (six) and Canada (four). Switzerland, Italy, Latvia, Germany, Austria and Russia are the only other countries to medal but sledders have represented countries all the way from Argentina to Australia. Laura Deas is "motivated" to win a skeleton Olympic medal for Great Britain after failing to qualify for the 2014 Games in Sochi. The 29-year-old from Wrexham is the top ranked British women and is fifth in this season's world standings. In January the GB team will be selected for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on 9-25 February."I'm feeling as confident as I could be at this moment, knowing selection is out of my control," she said."I know I'm having a good season, I'm consistently in and around the top six which is in the target. With three races to go I am feeling pretty good."Deas is seven places above Britain's 2014 gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold in the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) rankings. When asked if she could can win a medal in Pyeongchang in what would be her first Olympics - if Deas makes selection on 22 January in Stockport - the Welsh slider said: "Absolutely.
"That's what I have been aiming to do for a long time, the fact that I missed out on Sochi... four years ago has really given me that extra motivation to want to be there, to become an Olympian and ultimately be on the podium."Deas missed out on a European medal by 0.01 seconds at the latest round of the World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria, this week - finishing fourth of the Europeans and sixth overall in an event won by Elena Nikitina. In November 2017, Nikitina was stripped of her Olympic bronze medal and banned from future Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for breaching anti-doping rules at Sochi 2014. But the IBSF has allowed the Russian to compete on the world circuit after lifting its initial ban. Nikitina is appealing against the IOC decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The IOC has banned Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but Russian athletes who can prove they are clean will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang under a neutral flag."It's frustrating because I want to be competing on a level playing field, and it's frustrating to know, with evidence, that it's not the case at the moment," Deas said."But at the same time I know it is counterproductive to get too caught up in it."Although I'm trying to stay up to date with what is going on, I don't want to become obsessed with it because I think, in the long run, that doesn't help me and my performance."Granted, we don’t have winter in Nigeria, but there’s no denying we’ll be the envy of other country at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. Our bobsled team, which is the first out of Africa, is already taking media attention (They were even on The Ellen DeGeneres Show!). And right now it seems we have another bit of history waiting to be made as Simidele Adeagbo is one race away from becoming the first woman skeleton athlete from Africa to take part in the competition.Adeagbo is a retired track and field athlete, having held the National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American and triple jump school record for four times. Her interest in skeleton was sparked six months ago when she heard about the amazing Nigerian bobsled team. Determined to shatter the glass ceiling in athletics, she went for a trial in August and was successful. Because there are no ice tracks in Johannesburg where she lives, Adeagbo prepares by watching videos of past runs and also using tips and tricks compiled by other athletes. When she can, she travels to Canada where she trains on ice tracks that run as far as 1.5km long.But with these preparations, there can be changes in the weather which make skeleton quite unpredictable. The 36-year-old, who is in love with Davido’s ‘Fia’ because it reminds her that what she’s doing is “for the continent and for people back home”, isn’t disturbed by this. Although she injured her chin in her last competition, there’s no stopping her from the fifth race in Lake Placid, New York, which will see her achieve that dream of qualifying for the Winter Olympics on January 11, 2018.Russian Elena Nikitina, who is banned from competing in the Winter Olympics, won the latest leg of the women's World Cup skeleton as Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold suffered another disappointing day. Yarnold was 16th in Innsbruck - the third race in a row she has failed to make the top 10 - and was again outperformed by team-mate Laura Deas, who was sixth. The event doubled as the European Championships, in which Deas missed out on bronze by 0.01 seconds. In the men's race, Latvia's Martins Dukurs won another great tussle against South Korea's Yun Sungbin.Lölling’s stellar 2017 also included a storming run in the mixed team event at the IBSF World Championships in Königsee (GER) in February. With her Germany 1 team lying fourth after the men’s skeleton and two-women bob runs, Lölling posted a new track record of 51.23 to catapult her team into the lead ahead of Russia. She then looked on as Johannes Lochner secured gold with the fastest run in the two-man bob leg. Five days later, watched by IOC President Thomas Bach, 22-year-old Lölling became the youngest ever women’s world champion in her sport. Jumping into a 0.06-second lead over compatriot and defending champion Tina Hermann on the first run, Lölling maintained her position when the second run was cancelled due to heavy snow.Staying ahead on the third run, Lölling beat Hermann on the fourth by 0.25 seconds. Sochi 2014 gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain completed the podium, nearly three-quarters of a second behind the young German.
It was left to team-mate Hermann to sum up her performance: “Jacqueline is on incredible form. It was pretty clear that it would be really tough to beat her here.”Lölling was just 12 when she took up skeleton in 2007. Three years later she appeared in her first international competition: a European Cup meet on the Olympic track in Cesana Pariol (ITA). She won both races. Still only 15 when she claimed her first national title in December 2011, Lölling earned a place on Germany’s team at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012. The competition was reduced to a single run because of bad weather, but the German teen’s superiority shone through, as she won gold by nearly a second from Austria’s Carina Mair and Canada’s Carli Brockway. A bronze medallist at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Igls (AUT), Lölling traded up to gold in 2014 in Winterberg (GER) and retained the title the following year in Altenberg (GER). That second world junior crown earned her a place at the 2015 IBSF World Championships in Winterberg, where, having just turned 20, she won silver behind Yarnold. Rising to the top. The German prodigy made her World Cup debut in the 2015/16 season, gaining podium finishes in her first three races: a third place in Altenberg and second places in Winterberg and Königsee. Lölling finished fourth at the European Championships in St Moritz (SUI) and was runner-up to Hermann in the national championships. She then scored two more podium finishes to take second place behind her compatriot in the overall standings. Her senior career took off to a flying start on 6 January 2017, when she won the World Cup event in Altenberg. A week later, Lölling claimed the European title by 0.16 seconds from Austria’s Janine Flock in Winterberg, followed by her world championship double. Her winning streak continued with a third victory in the World Cup final at the Alpensia Sliding Centre, which doubled up as the PyeongChang 2018 skeleton test event. Lölling was fastest in both runs, setting an inaugural track record of 52.75 on her second run. This ranked her first in the overall World Cup standings with a total of 1,591 points. Lölling now has her sights set on Olympic gold in PyeongChang. Judging by the start of her 2017/18 IBSF World Cup season, that goal is well within her grasp. Third on the opening weekend in Lake Placid (USA), she followed up with wins in Whistler (CAN) in late November and Winterberg in early December to place her at the top of the standings. Though Germany is the world’s pre-eminent force in the luge and bobsleigh, it has never won an Olympic skeleton title and has just two medals to its name: a silver for Kerstin Szymkowiak and a bronze for Anja Huber behind Great Britain’s Amy Williams at Vancouver 2010. In Lölling, they have an athlete who is fully capable of ending her country’s title drought at PyeongChang 2018.From a 17-year-old snowboarding star to a gold-medal-hungry women’s ice hockey team, Team USA’s athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are looking to make a mark. The official roster for Team USA will not be finalized until weeks before the 2018 Winter Olympics start Feb. 9, but the first competitors in the 15 Winter Olympic sports have already been chosen — and they each bring a unique story to the games. Maame Biney is a 17-year-old who already made history as the first black woman to qualify for Team USA’s short track speedskating team. Making his return in 2018, Gus Kenworthy is a freestyle skiing star who could become the first openly gay male athlete to compete at a Winter Games. And Chloe Kim is a 17-year-old snowboarding phenom who is the favorite to win gold in the sport for Team USA.Matthew Antoine slides back into Olympic competition after earning bronze in Sochi in 2014 and completing several years of successful international appearances. The Wisconsin-based athlete is looking to get another medal in the Winter Olympic sport this time around. He may be joined by contenders John Daly, who took a break from the sport after Sochi, and Nathan Crumpton, who is hoping to make his first Olympic appearance.
With a successful 2015-16 season, Annie O’Shea became the fastest of the women’s team and is poised to be one to watch in Pyeongchang. Olympian Katie Uhlaender is also trying to best her fourth-place finish in Sochi.The Olympic sport of skeleton is not for the faint of heart. Sprinting down an icy track, diving on a tiny sled head first, rocketing toward the bottom at speeds of upwards of 90 mph -- what kind of person would subject themselves to such danger for Olympic gold? His name is Matt Antoine. In 2002, Antoine was just like the rest of us, watching the Olympics on TV. The sport of skeleton caught his eye, and a year later Antoine headed to Lake Placid, New York to give it a try.“You’re kind of at the mercy of the track your first few times down,” Antoine said. “After the first run I knew this was something I wanted to pursue and I was going to keep going after.”He was hooked, and although he was cut from his first skeleton camp, Antoine kept sprinting down that icy track toward an Olympic medal. As a member of Team USA during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Antoine took home bronze – the first skeleton medal for an American in 12 years.“It was an amazing experience in 2014, especially having family members there,” Antoine said. “Being an Olympic athlete, having your support system of your family … it’s not just you, it’s about them as well.Antoine said sharing that moment with his support system meant “just as much or more to them than it did for me.”Now, nearly a decade and a half after his first run, the Phoenix resident is preparing for his last.“I’ve always approached the sport that it could end tomorrow and so in my prep for 2018 I’m definitely looking at it like it’s probably my last Olympics,” he said.