Sochi Olympics: Pick your favorites at the 2014 Winter Games

February 1

The Winter Olympics will begin Friday night with the Opening Ceremonies from Sochi, Russia.

The Winter Games are not as big as the Summer Olympics. The Winter Olympics have only 15 sports (with as many as 12 events in each sport), while the Summer Games feature 41 sports and hundreds of events.

Sports in the Winter Olympics must involve ice or snow. Even though basketball is generally played in the winter, the game does not have snow or ice, so it is included in the Summer Olympics.

There may not be many sports in the Winter Olympics, but there will be plenty of television coverage. Nobody can watch that much TV. Kids have to go to school, do their homework and play their own sports.

So you need a plan for the 17 days of competition. KidsPost sports columnist Fred Bowen made a list of his favorite events as well as some that he would rather miss. Let’s start with the favorites.

Downhill skiing

My absolute favorite, can’t-miss event is the downhill. What I love about the race is that it’s so simple. Go to the top of the mountain. Point your skis downhill. Try not to crash as you speed through the course. The fastest skier down the mountain wins.

Both the men’s and women’s events are full of heart-in-your-throat action. The super G, or super giant slalom, is cool, too. (That event is not quite as fast, has more turns and has gates that are spaced farther apart.) But the downhill is the best. Hang on to your hat and watch.

Snowboard cross

Only daredevils are allowed in this sport. Four snowboarders race down a winding, hilly course at breakneck speed. Every race has spills, thrills and plenty of excitement.

What I like best is that it’s a real race. The snowboarders compete against one another, not just the clock. The winners move on; the losers go home.

Short track speedskating

This is like snowboard cross on ice. The skaters spin around a small track, jockeying for position as they race for the finish line. Falls and fouls happen all the time because there are lots of skaters going at top speeds in too small a space. I love how close the short track racers get to the ice when they lean into their turns.

Hockey

We see plenty of hockey watching the Washington Capitals and the National Hockey League. But Olympic hockey is different — bigger rink, ejections for fighting — and special. Everyone is playing for his or her country.

There are lots of strong teams in the men’s tournament. A half-dozen countries could ride a hot goaltender to the gold medal stand. But don’t forget the women. If longtime rivals USA and Canada play against each other, it could be the best matchup of either tournament.

Cross-country skiing

These races are the track events of the Winter Games. There is everything from sprints to marathons — the 50-kilometer race is more than 30 miles. But my favorites are the relays, when teams are competing for glory. Even though some of the races are long, many come down to the wire.

I’ll also check out the figure skating and, believe it or not, the curling matches. That’s the goofy sport where someone slides a large granite stone across a sheet of ice while teammates sweep the ice so the stone stops on one of four circles to score points. It looks like shuffleboard on ice. Check out the wild pants!

As for the others . . .

I won’t spend much time watching the sliding sports such as bobsled, luge or skeleton. I know the sleds go super fast — the four-man bobsled can speed at more than 90 miles per hour — but every run down the icy track looks the same to me.

I know lots of kids love snowboarder Shaun White and freestyle skiing, but I don’t like sports where judges decide the winners. I like races and games and not popularity contests.

That’s okay. Everyone has his or her own favorite Olympic sports. So make up your list of favorites and check when they will be on TV. Then do your homework and beg your parents to let you stay up and watch.

And enjoy.

Watch the Winter Olympics

What: XXII Winter Olympic Games. (“XXII” is “22” in Roman numerals.)

Where: Sochi, Russia.

When: February 6-23. (Opening Ceremonies are February 7 at 7:30 p.m.)

Who: Athletes from 87 countries. Team USA includes 230 athletes.

What channels: NBC, NBC Sports, USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC.

— Fred Bowen

SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=kidspost}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!