If you’ve ever taken a running leap and thrown yourself headfirst down an icy hill, then skeleton is your jam. If you’re looking for inspirational Americans, you’ve come to the right place.
After popping a groove (that’s bad) in final run at the 2014 games in Sochi, John Daly fell out of medal contention. Daly retired from the sport completely for two years before returning in time to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics. His teammate Matt Antoine took home the bronze at Sochi, but almost walked away to deal with situational depression.
On the women’s side, Katie Uhlaender will be making her fourth Olympic appearance. She’s had a dozen different surgeries on everything from her knees her liver. Kendall Wesenberg tried out for the national team on a dare from one of her siblings. She’s making her Olympic debut and is the first American woman to win a European Cup title.
What time and how can I watch?
Men’s competition: Feb. 14 (8 p.m. ET); Feb. 15 (7:30 p.m.)
Women’s competition: Feb. 16 (6:20 a.m.); Feb. 17 (6:20 a.m.)
They can be watched live through NBCOlympics.com or the NBC Sports app.
Why should I quit my job and become a lifelong devotee of skeleton?
Who doesn’t want to spend their days sledding down hills at ludicrous speed? As Uhlaender told NPR, “It is the perfect combination of meathead and freestyle zen athlete.”
What are the rules of skeleton? Follow up: What is the weirdest rule of skeleton?
There’s not much you need to know. There are no steering mechanisms sleds, so sliders (skeleton term) use their head and shoulders to steer. There are also no brakes. There are four heats over two days. Fastest cumulative time wins.
What can I talk about to impress the skeleton enthusiast in my life?
This is a battle with gravity, so the launch is paramount. Sliders begin by sprinting about 30 yards with one hand on the sled in a crouched position. Once they have settled into the sled, form is everything. Chins are tucked just a few inches off the ice, so watch for involuntary head bobs. Really, the whole thing will be over in less than a minute, so just hang on tight. And watch out for the wall.
Whose jersey should I buy?
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs is an eight-time World Cup champion, but he has yet to breakthrough with gold at the Olympics, winning the silver in 2010 and 2014. His brother, Tomass, is also an accomplished slider, but Martins has won 90 percent of their competitions. Just go with Dukurs on the back and you should be fine.
What is the sport’s AMERICA RATING?
Skeleton began in the Alps and was an immediate favorite of British and American tourists. The U.S. has won the most medals, while the Brits have dominated the women’s competition. The American contingent is delightfully bad ass, so we’ll give it three screaming eagles.