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9 Winter Olympics sports fans are excited to watch

Mikaela Shiffrin
(Image credit: Photo by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Every four years the world tunes in to the Winter Olympics, one of the largest stages in the world for athletic competition across a wide range of sports. At the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, 109 sets of medals will be given out across 15 different sports and their varying disciplines, with a number of must-watch athletes vying for the gold.

Some of these sports only get this kind of a stage every four years, making it all the more exciting to watch and get something different than are usual fare of football (American and international), basketball and other mainstream sports.

Here are the Winter Olympic sports that we are most excited to watch at this year’s games …

Alpine Skiing

alpine skiing

(Image credit: Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

If speed is your thing, alpine skiing is the sport you will want to watch at the Winter Olympics. These men and women have one goal in this sport, get down the mountain as quickly as possible. While there are different disciplines, like slalom, as part of the competition, time is the biggest factor. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will also feature some of the best to ever put on a pair of skis, including Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), Alexis Pinturault (France) and Ester Ledecka (Czech Republic) hitting the slopes.

Alpine skiing competitions begin on Feb. 6.

Biathlon

biathlon

(Image credit: Photo by Kevin Voigt/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Once an integral part of warfare in many Nordic countries, biathlon is a combination of cross-country skiing and shooting. While it can be weird at first to see a large group of athletes skiing across a course and then taking a break to do some target practice, biathlon actually offers a great test of multiple disciplines for athletes, including high levels of endurance and excellent motor skills.

Biathlon competitions begin on Feb. 5.

Bobsleigh

Team Jamaica bobsleigh

(Image credit: Team Jamaic/Twitter)

There’s a good chance that most children of the '80s and '90s were first introduced to the sport of bobsleigh from the Disney movie Cool Runnings, about the first Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 games. Well, as fate would have it, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will feature a four-man Jamaican bobsled team for the first time since 1998. Jamaica also qualified with a two-man bobsled team and a woman’s monobob, the latter of which is a brand new Olympics discipline. They’ll have plenty of competition though, including from Germany, which won all three bobsleigh competitions at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Bobsleigh competitions begin on Feb. 13.

Curling

curling

(Image credit: USA Today Sports)

Curling becomes a phenomenon every four years, as viewers love this sport where people slide stones across a sheet of ice, trying to slow them down (or speed them up) using special brooms. Of course, there’s more to curling than that but part of the joy of curling in the Olympics is that, unlike many of the other sports, it's the one that seems doable for the average person. This is part of the reason why the U.S. men’s curling team that won gold in 2018 — who look like your average dads —became such a big hit.

Curling competitions begin on Feb. 2.

Figure Skating

figure skating

(Image credit: Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

One of the most high-profile events of the Winter Olympics, figure skating is essentially the Winter Olympics equivalent of gymnastics in the Summer Games. It’s incredible to watch these athletes fly around the ice, do incredible spins through the air and then land on their razor-thin blades. In addition to individual competitions, pairs and ice dancing are also highlights of the games. Some of the big-name figure skaters that will take part in the Beijing games are Nathan Chen (USA), Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan), Alysa Liu (USA), Alexandra Trusova (Russian Olympic Committee), Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (Canada) and Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (ROC). 

Figure skating competitions begin on Feb. 4. 

Ice Hockey

Olympics ice hockey

(Image credit: Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Image)

Even though the U.S. NHL is not allowing its professionals to take part in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the Olympics ice hockey tournaments will still be a blast. Without NHL players, that will give young upcoming talent from across the world the chance to show their skills in the men’s tournament. In the women’s bracket, an all-time great rivalry will have the chance for a classic rematch, as Team USA looks to defend their 2018 gold medal while Team Canada wants to avenge their shootout loss in the final game.

Ice hockey competitions begin on Feb. 3.

Luge

luge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With bobsleigh, athletes careen down icy turns with the protection of a sled. In luge, they ditch that and instead see how fast they can go while riding (to put it very simplistically) a board with two blades attached. Despite requiring a good bit of bravery, luge athletes incredibly are able to use their bodies to control their trajectory at super high speeds. Then of course there is luge’s cousin, skeleton, which is similar, save for the fact those athletes do it all headfirst.

Luge competitions begin on Feb. 5.

Snowboarding

snowboarding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Snowboarding was first introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1998, but since then it has become one of the signature events. This is in large part thanks to the halfpipe event, which has been the arena that Shaun White has built his Olympic legacy on. This will be White's last Olympics, but there are numerous contenders to take his place as the face of snowboarding, including the likes of Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, Australia’s Scotty James or fellow American Chloe Kim. There are a number of other snowboarding events beyond halfpipe at this year’s games, including slopestyle, big air, slalom and snowboard cross.

Snowboarding competitions begin on Feb. 5.

Speed Skating

short track speed skating

(Image credit: Olympics.com)

There are two very different types of speed skating at the Winter Olympics — there’s the traditional speed skating taking place on a larger rink and in a lot of cases (save for the mass start) featuring just a couple of skaters going at a single time. Then there is the short track speed skating, which is kind of like NASCAR on ice, as a group of skaters fly around corners jostling for position, with the potential for a race-altering crash at any time. While two very different styles, speed skating often delivers some of the most dramatic or impressive finishes of the entire games.

Speed skating competitions begin on Feb. 5.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.