X-Wear Blog: News, Tips, and Tricks for What Inspires You
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For skiing enthusiasts the Freestyle Ski events at the Olympics are the final frontier of competitive skiing. In a sport that combines high-level tactical skiing ability, incredible aerial maneuvers, and death defying speeds, Freestyle Skiing is pretty much the coolest thing you can do atop two skis. There are ten freestyle events slated for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, five for women and five for men.
Freestyle skiing made its Olympic debut in 1988 at the Calgary games. Each Winter Olympics thereafter the sport was expanded to include specific competitions for various components of the freeski performance. The current set up of five separate events was only finalized in the last Winter Games in Sochi when the halfpipe and the slopestyle events were added to the roster. It’s safe to say that the sport is still rapidly evolving and that as freeskiers become more renowned on the Olympic podium, there will be future iterations of the Olympically recognized events.
A main freeskiing event is Aerial, in which skiers speed off a short ramp that can propel them as much as 60 feet above the slope that they are intended to land on. Whilst in the air skiers attempt as many flips, turns and tricks as possible and aim for a smooth and concise landing. They land on an incline of up to 39 degrees and are then judged by the Freeskiing committee. Their final score is dependent upon the difficulty of their maneuvers, the precision of their landing, and their overall appearance in the air. Other main Freestyle Skiing events are the Mogul events in which skiers course down a mountain filled with mounds of snow that they must expertly navigate and well as the halfpipe event where competitors demonstrate immense tactical precision and stunning tricks while winding their way through a halfpipe.
One of the most famous Freestyle Skiers in the world is American, Torin Yater-Wallace. At only 22, he has already earned his keep as one of the most advanced skiers in the world. He is expected to take home the gold for USA next year in Pyeongchang. What makes his imminent victory even more compelling for his fans and competition alike is that only last year Yater-Wallace was not expected to live. A very rare abscess in his liver was causing his fever to skyrocket and his breathing to become nearly impossible, yet was still going undetected by even the most senior medical professionals. At one point, Torin’s mother and girlfriend, fellow future Olympic skier, Sarah Hendrickson, were called into his Intensive Care Room where they were informed that Yater-Wallace might not survive the night and that they should make travel arrangements for the family so that they may say their goodbyes.
But Torin did much more than just survive the night. Instead, he made an insanely fast recovery and, within weeks, was already planning to get back on the snow. Powder is, after all, what he knows best in the world and he wasn’t going to let anything stand between him and the gold. Those who will be cheering Torin on next year at Pyeongchang are not just cheering for him as an athlete, nor are they cheering for team USA, but they are cheering for health, strength, and beating impossible odds.
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Luge is one of the Olympics’ fastest, most exhilarating, and most precisely timed sports. The Luge events are among the most exciting to watch of the Winter Games for a number of reasons. Luge is a sport in which one to two athletes ride supine (on their backs) with their feet in front of them. They are expertly positioned atop a relatively lightweight sled with foot pedals for steering. Lugers, once perfectly positioned on their sleds, race down long ice tunnels attempting to reach insane speeds and achieve the fastest times possible.
Luge’s roots date back to at least the 16th century, but it wasn’t until several centuries later that the first clear evidence of luge became prominent. The first famous luge course was at a Swiss hotel, set up for thrill seeking tourists. Since the late 1800s, the sport has continued to evolve in terms of specifications as well as the skill of athletes. It wasn't until 1964, however, that luge was finally included as a sport at the Olympic Games. The sport was brought on to replace the sport Skeleton.
Part of what makes luge so exciting is its inherent danger to competitors. Lugers often put themselves and their safety at risk when they speed down ice courses at unbelievable speeds. The average professional or Olympic speeds hover around 85 miles per hour, with the speed record sitting more than 10 mph faster at about 96 miles per hour. The physical danger they put themselves in by sledding on ice at these speeds cannot be overstated. In fact, in 2010 the sport saw its third professional death. Georgian racer, Nodar Kumaritashvili, was qualifying for the 2010 winter Olympics in Whistler, Canada when he made a slight steering error and crashed fatally on the course. As a precaution against such a fate, lugers wear a good amount of protective equipment, especially in the form of headwear.
Luge is, like many Olympic sports, extremely competitive. It is common for competitors to finish within one one hundredth of a second of one another. In ten times as fast as the blink of an eye a racer can go from gold to silver. This means that those lugers who are able to claim a spot atop the Olympic podium have every single muscle movement down to an exact science when it comes to how they race their course.
Among this year’s lugers to look out for, Felix Loch of Germany is absolutely leading the pack. He won his first gold medal at the age of 20 in the 2010 games and reclaimed his spot at the top four years later at Sochi. Whether he is able to pull a gold hat trick still remains to be seen, but it’s clear all eyes will be on him.
From the women’s side, Tatyana Ivanova from Russia is leading the pack. Although she only beat fellow lugers by a small fraction of a second, it was enough to qualify her as a world class olympian. With Russia being completely excluded from the coming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, all eyes will be on Germany’s luger, Natalie Geisenberger. Russia was prohibited from competing at all in the coming Olympics (as well as the following games in 2020) due to widespread evidence of cheating via the aid of steroids.This is good news, however, for second place competitors across all sports who previously lost the gold to Russian competitors. By all accounts Germany is absolutely the nation to beat when it comes to top luge speeds in the world and will undoubtedly make huge gains in South Korea in 2018!
As an advocate of all extreme sports, we are also an advocate of personal safety and for that of those around you. There are Extreme Sports and then there are just plain extremely dangerous antics that, without the proper thought for safety are no longer exciting...they are simply dumb stunts that will get someone killed.