13 Must-Know Words for the Winter Olympics
A staple in the Olympic figure skating competition, a lutz is when the skater leaps from the back outer edge of one skate to make a full rotation in the air and lands on the back outer edge of the opposite skate. Though lutz sounds like clutz, the two are not related. This word is actually an eponym for the skater who invented the jump, Gustave Lussi.
Though it is often confused with the common word axle, an axel in figure skating refers to a jump performed by a skater leaping from the front outer edge of one skate into the air to make one and a half rotations of the body and landing on the back outer edge of the other skate. The move was popularized in the 1920s by Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen.
You may have noticed that figure skaters have a tendency to name moves after other skaters, and this word is no different. Like lutz and axel, Salchow is named for Swedish figure skater Ulrich Salchow who first performed the move, a jump in which the skater leaps from the back inside edge of one skate, making one full rotation of the body in the air, and lands on the back outside edge of the other skate.
Slalom comes from the Norwegian word slalam meaning "sloping track." The types of gates used in slalom courses, like delay, flush, and hairpin, can make or break a race. In a delay, there is an open and a closed gate in succession, which changes the speed of the race. In the hairpin, there are two closed gates in a row, and in a flush, there are three or four closed gates in a row, challenging a skier’s agility.
This hockey term refers to one of the two defensemen in a standard alignment. The name arose because the defensemen often stay planted near the blue lines on the ice during play, as opposed to on the red line at the center of the ice.
As in soccer, baseball, and cricket, a hat trick refers to a particularly complex feat by a player during a game. In hockey, it means three goals or points scored by one player. This phrase was first applied to hockey in the 1900s, though it had been in the English since the late 1800s.
Icing, a defensive maneuver in hockey, happens when a player shoots the puck from the defensive half of the rink over the opponent's goal line, but not into the goal, in order to keep the puck out of the reach of attacking opponents. If the puck is next touched by an opponent other than the goalkeeper, it results in a penalty against the defensive team.
In this use, the word cork may be a back formation of corkscrew describing how a snowboarder rotates in the air. A double cork is an in-air stunt in which a snowboard does two rotations before landing. Both David Benedek and Travis Rice are credited with popularizing the move.
The sledding competition called skeleton was reintroduced at the Winter Olympics in 2002, but where did it get its scary name? The word skeleton is a reference to the slender-framed sled used in this thrilling event, which was originally made entirely of steel and thought to have a bony appearance. Skeleton sledding came from the British sport Cresta sledding, named after a famous course in Switzerland called Cresta Run where that bare-bones sled was first introduced.
In the four-man bobsled competition, the pushers are the final two crew members to enter the bobsled. They provide the essential push in that first 50 meters of the course before jumping into the sled.
The game of curling, which is somewhat like bocci on ice, likely originated in Scotland in the 1500s. The name of the game comes from the motion of the sliding stones as they move across the ice. Among curlers, the stones they throw are commonly called rocks.
In ski jumping, inrun refers to the approach to a jump. The term is a direct translation from the German word anlauf. At the Winter Olympics, competitions are held for both large-hill and normal-hill jumps. 2014 is the first year that women’s ski jumping will be included as an Olympic event.
Though biathlon can refer to any athletic tournament with two consecutive events, in the Winter Olympics it specifically means a contest in which cross-country skiers, carrying rifles, shoot at targets at four stops along a 12.5-mile (20 km) course. The sport was demonstrated at the first modern Winter Olympics in 1924, but it did not enter the official competition until 1960.