Home » Sport

Winter Olymics: Time to brush up on your Sochi...

Saturday, 8 February 2014 - 9:06pm IST | Place: Sochi (Russia) | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Here's our bluffer's guide to speaking Sochi.

Even though the Brits more or less invented Alpine sports, there is something baffling about the Winter Olympics. It is not just the complex events, it is the impenetrable jargon that goes with them. If you thought London 2012, with its omniums and epees, was confusing, gird your salopettes - because Sochi 2014 will bombard you with a flurry of technical terms, from goofies and lasso lifts to alley oops and Japan grabs. Here's our bluffer's guide to speaking Sochi:

Slopestyle
Winter fashion from Fat Face? No, silly. It's a cross between snowboarding and skateboarding, and very watchable. The contestants - all shaggy hair and baggy clothes - snowboard along an assault course. It has a language all of its own. But if you have a 13-year-old child, they might be able to translate, "Woah, she bossed that melon."

Mogul
One problem is that many of the events are not won by conforming to the Olympic idea of Citius, Altius, Fortius. Rather, you get gold for being pulcherrimus - the best-looking. And it's not only achieved through the sequins and triple Salchows of the figure skating, it's also a feature of freestyle skiing, or "hot dogging", where jumps, twists and turns win you points. The most famous freestyle event is the bumpy Moguls, where just a quarter of points are for speed, the rest for technique. It's nothing to do with Indian emperors, and everything to do with the Austrian word for small hill, "mugel" - or "guaranteed to break your knee joints".

Vanessa Vanakorn
Until now, you may have known VV as a techno-acoustic violinist who liked to pose in her underwear. But Vanessa Mae, as she is more widely known, has scraped into the giant slalom team for Thailand - her father's country. Other unlikely competitors include the German Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, who is racing for the country of his birth, Mexico. And Bruno Banani, from Tonga, who will luge for Germany, after changing his name by deed poll to an underpants manufacturer.

Hog line
A curling, not a culinary, term - a mark on the ice, which denotes where curlers need to release their "stones" towards the "house" (the target). Curling may look like the Mogadon of the Winter Olympics: crown green bowling for Scottish housewives in terrible tracksuits. But it is strangely gripping to watch players frantically brush the ice to make the stones go faster (the friction causes the ice to melt slightly). Curling is also one of Team GB's most realistic chances of a medal. Go curlers!

Nordic Combined
Not a piece of Scandinavian bedroom furniture, but one of the oldest events, having been on the programme since 1924. After a 140m or so ski jump, the (male only) athletes set off on a 10km cross country race using the Gundersen system. (OK, stay with me here.) The further you jump, the more of a head start you have.)

Backside Rodeo 720
Is it really possible to win a gold medal with a Double McTwist 1260 or a Backside Rodeo 720? Yes, it is, in the strange world of Snowboard Halfpipe, which sees overgrown teenagers ride their snowboards up a 22ft high convex wall before performing various somersaults in the air.

The twists and turns are all given silly terms. The trick is to take a cocktail and add a big number. Simple. Me? I'm a whizz at the Negroni 180.


Jump to comments