Photo Credit: Arne Dedert / AP

The Top 5 Most Terrifying Winter Olympic Sports

Winning is amazing, but losing can come with a broken leg, or worse

Are you brave enough to try these in spandex?

Do you think you’re good at winter sports? We don’t get a lot of winter weather on VanIsle, but maybe you tried cross-country skiing in Saskatchewan and really liked it. Maybe you get on the indoor rink, and you can skate really fast.

But do you have what it takes to do the most terrifying ones? Because when you think about it, some winter Olympic sports are totally wild.

To make matters worse, most athletes do these scary sports in spandex. Do you want the world to see you in spandex? On a 4k TV screen? Terrifying.

So this is our totally not scientific ranking of the five scariest winter Olympic sports. We picked these using the same two questions Michael Baumann used in his article in The Athletic.

Question 1: could a beginner do this without breaking their legs or being traumatized?

Question 2: how much pants-shitting terror would an average person experience if they could ride along with an Olympian?

5. Nordic Combined

The Olympics love their mash-ups—skiing combined with shooting. Swimming combined with biking, and running.

But who came up with ski jumping and cross-country skiing? Why mix total terror with blistering cardio? Do they want to kill people?

It’s a bonkers event. First, you have to ski off a jump that’s either 27 stories or 36 stories high. Then, if you survive, you have to sprint through a 10km cross-country ski race. Imagine jumping across four football fields from the height of a skyscraper, then sprinting for 10km. No way.

A group of cross-country skiers compete in Nordic Combined.
These guys aren’t from Canada. This isn’t our sport. Photo by Franz Kirchmayr / Getty Images

Currently, there are no Nordic Combined events for women. That’s strange in 2022. But maybe it’s because women aren’t stupid enough to risk it.

The last time a Canadian did well in this event was almost 100 years ago.

4. Sledding

In theory, shooting down a tube of ice at 90 miles an hour sounds like fun. It isn’t. You have nothing to protect you but a helmet and a spandex bodysuit.

There are four Olympic sledding sports—bobsled teams, monobob (a new event), luge, and skeleton.

At least you have a little bumper car in the bobsled. But do you want to crash that thing? And if you’re in the back, you can’t see. So you don’t know you’re crashing till you get flung out of the sled.

In luge, you lie down on your back on a board with blades and then zoom down the course. You steer by flexing your butt cheeks. No joke. In doubles luge, you lie down on the sled and then someone else lies on you. You’d better like your teammate.

Lugers Tristan Walker, front, and Justin Snith, back, rocket down the track.
Tristan Walker and Justin Snith warm up for the 2022 luge events. Photo by Johann Groder / Getty Images

Five people have died in all of the winter Olympics, and two of them were in luge.

Is skeleton less scary? Hard to say. They’re a lot slower, but you go down headfirst.

3. Alpine Skiing—Super-G and Downhill

Skiing looks easy on TV. But athletes go down those courses at breakneck speeds. And again, your only protection is a helmet and spandex..

Marie-Michele Gagnon skiis in Lake Louise World Cup.
Marie-Michèle Gagnon medals in the 2020 World Cup. Photo by Frank Gunn / Canadian Press

Skiers experience more force than astronauts during launch. And man, when they crash, they crash big.

Remember when Austrian Hermann “the Herminator” Maier crashed at the 1998 Olympics? He blew through two layers of fencing. It sounded like a dog crunching on a bone when he hit the ground.

He came back to win two gold medals before the Olympics were over. Are you that brave?

2. Snowboard and Ski X Games-style events

These sports look rad as hell—lots of flips, tricks, and drama. And VanIse has its share of X Games Olympians, like Comox Valley’s Sharpe siblings and Campbell River’s Teal Harle. But holy crap, they’re scary!

Cassie Sharpe doing tricks in her skiis at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Cassie Sharpe goes for gold at the 2018 Olympics. Gregory Bull / AP Photo

Some involve racing. Sometimes winning means crawling your broken body across the line faster than the next guy.

Others involve ramps, ledges, rails, and other obstacles for competitors to crash into and wrap themselves around.

Lots of these athletes are still teenagers. Maybe that’s because their brains aren’t evolved enough to understand how terrifying this is.

But at least they don’t have to wear skin-tight clothes.

1. Ski Jumping

No Olympic event makes you clench your butt hole more than ski jumping.

Ski jumpers race down a ramp the length of a football field and then fly at speeds more than 100 km per hour. Whoever lands furthest away without exploding gets the gold medal.

The smaller of the two ramps is almost 300 feet off the ground. It’s called the “normal hill.” There’s nothing normal about jumping 300 feet off the ground in your spandex.

Alexandria Loutitt, Matthew Soukup, Abigail Strate and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes stand with their Olympic medals in mixed ski jumping.
Alexandria Loutitt, Matthew Soukup, Abigail Strate and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes after winning the first Canadian medal in Olympic ski jumping. Photo by Matthias Schrader / AP Photos

Part of being an Olympian is dealing with fear. But how do they survive their first few jumps when they are learning?

The sport was invented in Norway in the 1800s. I guess you can create body-busting sports when you have the world’s best universal health care.

Canada has pretty good health care, too. But not good enough for regular folks to try any of these terrifying events.