The Winter Olympics are often thought of as the Summer Olympics’ lesser sibling; with a variety of sports many of us have never heard of, let alone seen. That doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting though, as daredevils hurtle down mountains and race across the ice; it can be rather exhilarating. To help you along, we have picked our top 5 winter Olympic sports to prove that it can definitely hold its own.

Top 5 Winter Olympic Sports

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are the 22nd Winter Olympics to be held, with a record 98 events taking place across 15 different disciplines of 7 different sports, participated in by about 6000 athletes from 88 different nations and 3 independents, watched by over 300,000 people in person and guarded by around 70,000 security staff… That’s a lot of numbers! But here are 5 that really count.

1. Ice Hockey

Let’s start easy, Ice Hockey (for those who have never watched the Mighty Ducks) is a game played on an ice rink, where two teams try to get a small rubber disc into their opponent’s goal using sticks. That is the most simplistic explanation. It is easily the most popular sport at the Winter Olympics and we love Ice Hockey here at Average Joes. What’s not to love? It is an action packed sport with speed, skill and sometimes a bit of unadulterated, brutal violence. It’s hard to pick a favourite for the gold, but it should come down to one of the top 5: Russia, Sweden, USA, Canada or Finland. We would love a Sweden v USA final if only for the sake of reliving childhood memories from Mighty Ducks: D2.

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2. Speed Skating

We may all remember Torvill and Dean for being our figure skating champs, but for sheer excitement, crashes, spills and of course speed, then short run speed skating is where it’s at. One mistake and you can take out the whole group! The importance of timing and a perfectly executed game plan is equal to the sheer athletic ability required. Imagine the excitement of the 100, 200 and 400m with Usain Bolt, add in ice and razor blades for shoes and there you are. Awesome weekend viewing.

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3. Snowboard

If Skating threw you off balance, I suspect we have you back firmly on board. Two feet are clamped to a single board and you go downhill, slalom, do tricks, or combine those in this sport. Snowboarding is just plain amazing to watch, whether it is head-to-head slaloming down the steep slopes, or getting huge air and getting the highest scores for technical tricks in the halfpipe (our favourite). There is so much to look forward to in the Snowboarding, although the courses are already breaking news (and bones) getting changed as we type this. The individual battles will be very interesting this year, with slopestyle making its first appearance at the games (a bit like a street skate course) and a number of highly rated X Games competitors looking for a taste of Winter Olympic glory. All eyes will be on the aging American Shaun White, to see if he can get a third medal in the halfpipe.

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4. Bobsleigh

How could we not include the bobsleigh? We have loved it since we were little, watching Cool Runnings (or Rasta Rocket in France). This year could see the magic of that movie coming back to life, as Jamaica have a bobsleigh team (queue that little song in your head) in the competition again. If you aren’t aware of the sport, it is about a number of people, in a small contraption, hurtling down a narrow icy tube, trying not to fall out and die and get round as fast as possible. Teams of 4 or 2 tackle these courses. We love watching this because its fast, it is dangerous and its technically very tough. Team USA 2012 London track and media star Lolo Jones joins the US bobsleigh team as she hopes to win Olympic Gold (finally), we don’t blame her and a certain movie did say that sprinters make the best bobsledders.

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5. Freestyle Skiing

Narrowing the list down to five, meant picking our favourite of the ski sporting categories, of which comprise 6 out of the total 15 Winter Olympic sports. So, the freestyle skiing got our vote, but why? Freestyle skiing is the equivalent of the Snowboarding at the games, in that it has a number of disciplines including pipes, jumps, obstacles races and slopestyle. Its got a bit of everything for everyone mixing traditional skiing with the more modern daredevilry we love at the X Games, combining speed, skill, acrobatics and aerial ability. With all the big airs, tricks and hot competition, its one you definitely don’t want to miss. We’re really looking forward to seeing slopestyle debut at Sochi, and the competition is now wide open after the all out favourite didn’t even make the USA team of skiers, presumably due to injury. The US and Canada are expected to lead the way in medals in Freestyle Skiing, but regardless of who wins, it will be excellent to watch.

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So, these are our top picks of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics sports to watch and enjoy. We know there are so many more, so if you think you can argue the case of curling, or sell the skeleton to us, give it a go, we are open minded souls here at Average Joes.

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