Lose the Luge?

By Emily Beers

In Competition

February 25, 2014

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A total of 98 events were contested at the Olympic Games, and avid viewer Emily Beers wonders if the herd should be thinned to focus on quality rather than quantity.

We’ve all had that Winter Olympics moment: you’re watching the high-flying aerials or a game-winning shot in overtime. Then coverage shifts to curling, and the wind is knocked out of your sails as you start looking for something else to watch.

Some sports just don’t warrant a flower at the metaphorical Olympic rose ceremony. It’s nothing personal. Curling is indeed a fine pastime, hobby or leisure activity, especially if yelling at a slow-moving rock is your thing. But an Olympic sport? That’s simply hard to support.

Curling is but a step away from watching your grandparents play shuffleboard at the local community center. While a productive activity for the 70-plus crowd, an Olympic sport it is not.

And if we’re going to call out curling, it’s worth taking a look at the rest of the Olympic lineup for a few disciplines we could do without in four years’ time.

Agree? Disagree? Post your opinions to comments.

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18 Comments on “Lose the Luge?”


wrote …

Totally agree! Great article & the IOC wanted to eliminated Wrestling from the summer games.


wrote …

I agree that curling is not an Olympic sport, but it's not the only one. I really think that any "sport" that requires judges to determine who wins rather than fastest time, most weight lifted, the highest jump, etc, is really not a sport. This list would include figure skating, ice dancing, gymnastics, etc; anything with judges who determine who wins. Sports that cannot be measured by clocks and other instruments, in my opinion should be taken out of the Olympic Games. More importantly though, what really needs to be dished from the Olympics is the politics and the discriminatory corporate sponsorship of the whole thing.


wrote …

The Olympics is about cross participation not just pure athletic achievement, they are synonymous, disregarding some sports just because they may not have all the athletics qualities of other sports is narrow minded.

If we disregard sports where judges or impartial adjudicators influence and/or decide the winner then do we disregard boxing as an Olympic sport? DO we sacrifice team sports because a referees decision could sway the game?

The sports in the Olympics should always be up for review, a constantly changing and adapting showcase. Including every sport ever would be impossible for many reasons but excluding sports simply because they may not include the same facets of the 10 general physical skills as others is unjust.


wrote …

I must agree with Simon. The purpose is to get the world together and compete in sport. Curling is as skillful as any of the other sports. I'd love to see a Hockey player, or downhill skier to try curling. There are different skill sets in all of sports.

As for taking sports with judges/refs, etc... out of the Olympics, that means wrestling would be banned, so would gymnastics, hockey and a slew of other things. I have read many articles with web comments saying CrossFit should be in the Olympics. But, the CrossFit Games and Regionals and Open, have judges. With this logic, we could never see the Sport of Fitness in the Olympics.

Personally, I found the curling events to be very intriguing. It is a sport I don't know much about. But the strategy and skill set to throw the stone down the ice with the proper speed and proper trajectory that seems to be interesting.

Just my opinion and we all have our own. I don't understand this type of sport discrimination. Besides, Greg Glassman explains we should "learn and play new sports."


wrote …

I like curling, but there's definitely an argument to be made that it's a game, not a sport. It definitely requires a lot of skill, but when almost all of the top players in the world are over 40, it's hard to argue that athleticism plays into it very much.

I think that Emily Beers may be really underestimating the athleticism required for the various sliding sports, though. I don't personally participate in any of them, but from what I can tell, luge and skeleton seem to both require significant core strength. All of the sliding sports require some sort of explosive start.

I also think ice dancing is getting an unfair evaluation in this article. It's different than the standard figure skating, but I don't think that makes it any less a sport. The comparison is like saying biking isn't a sport because it isn't the same as rowing. The subjective judging in the ice skating is something that irks me too, though.


wrote …


Some points...

The media coverage of some sports was excessive. I would definitely rather see downhill skiing instead of ice dancing.

However, I am sure some of these sports require the needed athletic prowess in order to be successful. Curling for instance, if it appears free of skill then I look forward to the video submission of you Curling.

The posterior chain? I trained an athlete that competed in Luge for 2 years. The start of the Luge requires a forceful extension of the hips and an extremely stable midline to claw the ice after the pull. When we improved the strength of his posterior his times improved right along with it. Doubles Luge is almost the same as one man. The front rider pulls the handles and the rear rider pulls on a strap attached to the front rider's elbow. Then they claw in unison. It is also not unusual for sleds to reach 80mph. There are no successful Lugers that are physically unfit, physically weak or mentally soft.

Judging? Well, I don't get ice dancing. But human decisions and point of view influence almost all sports. Besides, if judged sports were out I would lose my beloved slopestyle snowboarding and those athletes are ridiculously gifted.

Crossfit as an Olympic sport? Bring it on! In time...a winter sport? definitely, lets strap on the skates and do Fran!


wrote …

Interesting thing about doubles luge: First, it is not 2-man luge, its doubles luge, and I think it is the only event in the Olympice--summer or winter (maybe also possibly sailing) that is open to either gender--although most pairs are two men, there have been some male-female pair teams.

Also, the luge is an even where a person with a leg amputation could conceivably compete on a level playing field. Unlike track and field, where an amputee like Oscar Pistorius may arguably gain advantage with reduced bodyweight and spring limbs, in the luge, weight is actually an advantage, and lighter individuals can add dead weight to their sleigh up to a limit. It is an upper-body start (as opposed to a running start in the skeleton).

CrossFitters will appreciate that in the luge you have to hold a strong hollow position through multiple G forces of the curves and still have to steer by subtle shifts in body position, so definitely requires a strong core.

You are correct, though, WRT curling, it is a game like an winter version of shuffleboard.


wrote …

As with most things in life (and on TV), Mrs. Beers, you are free to change the channel.


wrote …

Those who bash curling have yet to try it, I think, Yes there's an element of strategy, but also a lot of balance, accuracy, strength, etc. required to play the game at a competitive level. If you want to be able to propel the 45lb rock down 150 feet of ice, and reach a target sometimes only inches in width, it takes a lot of strength balance, co-ordination and accuracy. Sweeping (at least at the competitive level) requires strength, balance and co-ordination, these guys work hard to get the rocks to the required location.

I'm not saying it's running a marathon, but it's not shuffleboard either. As a crossfitter and a curler (and one of the best crossfitters in my box is also a curler), I'd invite you to give it a try before bashing it :)


wrote …

Crossfit is many things, but it is not the pinnacle of sport, or competition. I have never seen the Olympics defined specifically as an athletic competition. Seriously, to knock a competitive event because of a perceived lack of an arbitrarily defined number of fitness components is silly, particularly if we extrapolate that line of thinking to non-Olympic competition (we probably shouldn't waste our time with silly games like chess, we must focus on the FITNESS COMPONENTS!).

A couple more notes. On judging - might as well get rid of gymnastics, then. On comparative advantage - no more long jump, triple jumpers do more over a longer distance. On no pity sports - get rid of the pole vault, they're just jealous high jumpers. On made up sports - I don't even know where to begin here. Aren't they all made up?


wrote …

I agree with all those who say curling should stay. You have the right logic. It isn't "just" chucking a rock down the ice. It takes body control, flexibility, practice, etc. BTW, pole vaulting is no different. Try it before bashing it.

Politics and judging and corporate sponsorship aside: you can't be a couch potato and make the Olympics. I think it would be pretty accurate to say that almost every one of those folks puts in as much time and effort (or more) as we all do to Crossfit.

It's all good.


wrote …

Agree with the general points put forth by the article. But the best measure of the IOC's enthusiasm for a sport entering or staying in the Olympics is television. A good case study for the last several Olympic cycles is of Judo and Wrestling. Starting around the 96 games both sports were advised to improve the television "watchability" by changing rules. The International Judo Federation has complied with several cycles of rule changes over the last Games. This has actually not gone down well with several of my fellow judoka (judo athletes), but has made strides into turning judo into a more exciting sport to watch, specially for the uninitiated. Wrestling on the other hand has somewhat ignored the IOC's warning. This is the (with huge simplifications) been the reason for Wrestling "almost" being excluded from the Olympics this cycle. I would argue that they were not in real danger yet. It was more a warning shot from the IOC. (As well as way to avoid having to choose from a list of new sports the IOC doesn't really favor).


wrote …


Have to disagree with assessment on curling for a few reasons. First, just because the skip doesn't generally sweep much isn't alone a reason for the elimination of a sport. Using that logic, you would take out any rowing event from the summer games that uses a coxswain since they are not rowing.

The sweeping action at the Olympic level requires a huge degree of fitness, moving across ice and keeping up with the stone while sweeping is not an easy task. Look at the front ends (the first two curlers) on elite men's rinks (teams) and you will see bodies that would not be out of place at any box.

The act of delivering a stone successfully requires balance (you are sliding on ice) strength primarily from the legs (there are lots of squats and lunges in the training regimes of many curlers)as well as control and flexibility (look at some curlers who release the stone with their head only a couple of inches above the stone).

If nothing else, might I suggest you curl 8 ends once and then draw a conclusion.


wrote …

This article is non-sense. I am embarrassed Crossfit published this. Shame on you for ridiculing other sports. Just wondering when you say Men's Hockey, what are you trying to imply to the females athletes? I am truly disappointed.


wrote …

Too say that a bobsled pilot is only relying on the force of gravity to get the sled down the track is just plain wrong. The bobsled is steered using straps that´s connected to the front runners. Although i do agree that there is a lot of things that´s wrong with the olympics i felt the need to state my opinion regarding bobsledding.

and just to remove any doubt that bobsledders are athletic, take a look at this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AQIwycfjro

Don´t even think he made it to sochi ;)


wrote …

As we have been educated, sports/games however you choose to phrase it, tend to be areas of specific focus/specialization. We who believe in the sport of fitness cannot judge what should or should not be a sport worthy of olympic recognition. If you have not tried it then there is no basis your "professional" opinion on the matter. How can we say that gymnastics is not a sport when it comprises so much of what we do in our daily WODs? Ever tried synchronized swimming? Not my favorite to watch but treading water for that length of time and pushing their bodies out of the water is a feat only a few can achieve with grace and beauty.

We should be worried when they make video gaming an olympic sport.

Just my humble opinion

MAJ Glen Whitner


wrote …

I kept thinking I was going to get to the end of the article and see the author say it was a joke. I was saddened and frustrated when she didn't.

I'm with Victoria here - for Crossfit to allow an article that openly de-values a number of sports that the author has little to no knowledge about beyond watching on TV simply promotes the same type of thinking that pushes people to hate on Crossfit. Ignorance of a sport does not make it worthless.

As much as I agree about the comments against judged sports, it still doesn't do any good to simply say the sport is not athletically valid because of that. The scoring system is flawed, agreed; the athletes are not.

I welcome Emily's video about her first time trying curling - seeing as she is based out of Vancouver (if I read the article correctly), it should not be difficult to find herself someplace to try it. Perhaps she should also read the 9-page long article that the Journal printed about the sliding sports to educate herself.

To rebut Richard's comment about the best curlers being over 40 - that's not exactly true. Looking at the rosters of the three Men's medallist teams, the oldest is 39, with two 35s. The rest are all younger, with the majority in their mid-20s. Not a single Women's medallist is in their 40s either, though they have a few more in the top end of their 30s, but the entire Bronze team is under 25.


wrote …

And I forgot to mention - how about that women's hockey final? Boring as hell, right? Oh. Wait. No. Remember how they changed the alignment of the pools to create more competitive games this year too? It's strange, it's almost like they are aware that they have a relatively new sport that needs to be grown.

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