Sochi: Sports to Watch

The Olympics in Sochi have already been marked by a great deal of excitement; controversies aside, spectators have enjoyed the various winter events, ...

Feb 15, 2014

The Olympics in Sochi have already been marked by a great deal of excitement; controversies aside, spectators have enjoyed the various winter events, including several new freestyle skiing events, the continued domination of the U.K.’s women’s curling team and the various ways the Canadian team has conspired to steal the hearts of viewers around the world with beer fridges, winning sisters and giving skis to the competition. This guide offers a manageable few sports to follow during the next week, along with pointers on each sport for those of us lucky enough to come from warm, winterless climates like here in the UAE.
Curling is the thing to watch these Games. A sport filled with drama, intrigue and brightly patterned pants — what more could one want?
While the game might look confusing, it is remarkably simple to follow. The teams try to push as many polished, colored stones called “rocks” as close to the center of the target as possible, while knocking away the rocks of the opposing team. This involves considerable strategy.
Teams to watch? The Canadians, as always, stand a great chance of scoring medals in both men’s and women’s rounds. But keep an eye on the Brits too; their skip, the player who pushes the rock across the ice, is Eve Muirhead, a  23-year-old from Scotland who has been news recently. On Tuesday, Muirhead skipped the team to a “seven-ender” over the United States, meaning that in one end they scored seven points out of a possible eight, a feat that has never been achieved in Olympic curling before. Also watch out for the Norwegian curling team, renowned for their eccentric fashion sense.
Mark your calendars:
Women’s Bronze Medal — 12:30 p.m. Thursday Feb. 20
Women’s Gold Medal — 5:30 p.m. Thursday Feb. 20
Men’s Bronze Medal — 12:30 p.m. Friday Feb. 21
Men’s Gold Medal — 17:30 p.m. Friday Feb. 21
Many countries see hockey as the highlight of the Winter Olympics. It is the largest team sport, and many of the players are recognizable from the professional leagues in North America and Europe. Games are exciting and fast-paced; even if you haven’t watched before, you can still enjoy the sight of people in padding zip around the rink in pursuit of a small rubber puck. The trick is to pick a side, assume the referees are trying to help the other team, then enjoy yelling at the TV regularly.
Both Canadian teams might be your best bet for picking a winner. The Canadian women’s team has taken home the gold medal in the previous three Olympics, while Sid “the Kid” Crosby is looking to take the men to a repeat of their Vancouver win. The U.S. men’s team is also a considerable contender, having beaten Russia on Feb. 15 in a shootout.
Save the date:
Women’s Bronze Medal 4:00 p.m. Thursday Feb. 20
Women’s Gold Medal 9:00 p.m. Thursday Feb. 20
Men’s Bronze Medal 7:00 p.m. Saturday Feb. 22
Men’s Gold Medal 4:00 Sunday Feb. 23
Bobsledding on its own is a fairly exciting sport; a team of people pushing a large, heavy sled, jump into it as it picks up speed and rocket down an icy slope to the finish line. But another reason to watch bobsledding this year is for the Jamaican bobsled team, competing in the Olympics for the first time since 1994. The Jamaican bobsleigh program began in 1988, a process recorded in the film “Cool Runnings.” This year, they hope to achieve success in Sochi, where Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts will be competing in the two-man competition. In a surprisingly 21st century twist, the team funded their journey to Sochi by raising Dogecoins, a crypto-currency similar to Bitcoins based on the ever-popular Doge meme. The Jamaican Bobsled team: much coin. such fast. wow.
Two-Man Heat 4 (Jamaica) 8:05 p.m. Monday Feb. 17
These are just a selection of the exciting events to come in the next week. Perhaps the easiest way to watch from Abu Dhabi is to choose 30 minutes of a game to watch and carefully time when to use the 30 minutes of free coverage NBC offers. Team up with friends to extend the 30 to an hour or two. Otherwise, find a friend with TV and a cable channel or find a lounge for local coverage of the events. Don’t miss the closing ceremonies taking place Sunday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.
Carmen Germaine is a staff writer. Email her at
gazelle logo