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Slipping and sliding to gold


ANOOP PANDEY


With 85 countries participating, the 2006 winter Olympic Games in Torino Italy is sure to one of the year's most widely watched sporting extravaganzas. Below is a roundup of some of the most popular events:

Alpine Skiing
Men's events and the women's slalom and giant slalom will take place at Sestriere, 100 km from Torino while the Women's downhill, super G and combined events will be held at San Sicario Fraiteve. Event finals are scheduled for 12-25 February.

It's no coincidence that Western European countries lying at the foot of the Alps have dominated this sport, particularly Austria, which has won 85 medals, including 26 gold.

Bobsleigh
The bobsled's Olympic debut was the four-man event at the 1924 Winter Games. The two-man event followed eight years later. The first women's bobsled event was held in 2002.

In bobsleigh a driver steers by pulling one rope with his right hand to turn right or a separate rope with his left hand to go left. The sleds rip down the icy track one at a time racing against the clock, reaching speeds of up to 90 mph. The team with the lowest aggregate time after two runs wins.

Figure skating
In the early 1860s, New York's Jackson Haines introduced a new combination of music, ballet, ice skating and dancing that wasn't well received in his country. So he took his revolutionary ideas to Vienna, Austria, where they flourished. Figure skating debuted indoor at the 1908 Olympic Summer Games in London. Singles and pairs competitions have been part of every Winter Games since 1924.

The men's and women's singles and pairs competitions each consist of two parts: a short program in which skaters must complete required elements and a free skate, a longer program that has few restrictions and emphasises skaters' artistry.
The ice dancing competition was introduced in 1976.

Freestyle skiing
Freestyle skiing saw its first Olympic action as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Calgary Games. Its immense popularity, particularly with the Gen-X crowd, made it an official medal sport at Albertville in 1992 and it has been a staple of the Winter Olympics ever since.

There are two disciplines in freestyle-aerials and moguls. Ballet is another discipline associated with freestyle but it has yet to be accepted as an Olympic event.

The aerial event is perhaps the most breathtaking freestyle event. Competitors begin at a spot of their choice and ski straight down the mountain toward a concave jump (which can be as high as 13 ft) that hurls them into the air. They perform a variety of twists and somersaults in mid-air, and then attempt to 'stick' the landing upright.



LATEST ISSUE
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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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