The Winter Olympics: Beyond the sports

Jessica Johnston
6 February 2014

In our last Winter Olympics article, we talked about the science behind the sports. But the science of the Winter Olympics goes beyond just the science within the sports themselves!

Athletes & Health

Take becoming an athlete- just deciding what sport you want to get involved in can even involve science. People have been looking at overall genetics body types and their impact on your 'best' sports for awhile now - What Sports should you play? - but now they're getting it down to a genetic level (or so they say) - Your Athletic DNA?!. So whether or not a winter sport is the 'best' for you may already be decided!

Whether you go with genetics or not, deciding you want to get involved in winter sports adds another layer - you need to Winterize your exercise because of the different temperatures. Even after taking these precautions though there are still other dangers from exerting yourself in the cold, everything from the simple yet annoying running nose (To ski or not to ski ...) right up to serious breathing issues - (Out of breath)

Then of course there's the more standard injuries that a top performing athlete can encounter - the concussions the helmets we discussed last time are trying to help avoid - Winter sports injury prevention, or damages to the body parts being strained, like ACL injuries - Anterior cruciate liga-what?. These types of injuries are not pleasant to the Olympic athlete as they can impact their ability to perform at their best during such a big event (though it does give a pretty cool career option in the people who get to help them out - Physiotherapist - Getting athletes back into their game).

Olympic Controversies

The Olympics really takes it up a level when it comes to the type of exertion and the type of stress you put on your body. It also puts a lot of stress of the athlete mentally to do well. Although more commonly thought of in Summer Olympics, the use of steroids in Olympic competition has a long and unpleasant history, including at the 2006 Winter Olympics - Olympic athletes suspended. Why steroids are so appealing is hard to say, but the culture of 'doping' is unfortunately still in existence and still causing problems - Doping in Sports: Understanding the Culture and Science of Cheating.

It's not the only controversy that can surround a normal Olympics. Controversies in judging happen often, even in timed events, which is why timekeeping accuracy and precision becomes incredibly important - as this video (from the summer Olympics but still relevant), explains - Measuring a Champion.

There can also be controversies that surround a specific Olympics as well - with Sochi, this includes everything from the early hotel/preparedness controversies including the strangely coloured tap water (perhaps they need an Environmental Health Officer), to the current controversy about gay rights unfolding in Russia which coincides with the timing of all these athletes and tourists coming into the country (learn more about the science behind homosexuality in this article - The science of homosexuality).

However, even with the potential for controversy that can occur, the Olympics are still an amazing spectacle and an amazing feat of athleticism from around the globe.

Enough of that - give me the sports!

Enough with all the other pieces, we just want more sports you say? Well, we've gone out to find you some new videos in order to learn more about winter sports & science! So we'll round out this article with these new great insights into the sports, and let you get back to the heart of what the Olympics is all about:

Olympic Movement and Robotic Design Science of Ice Science of Slope Style

Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston is the Manager for CurioCity & Web Strategy.  She started out in science (biology) before moving to IT, and now works with both! Passionate about promoting the awesome possibilities of both fields, she is also an admitted web geek.

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