Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter
Four simple words, as above, make up the Olympic motto. For those who don’t speak Latin, they mean:
Proposed by the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and adopted in 1924, the motto (originally just the first three words) represent the aesthetic ideals of sport.
The final word – Communiter – was added last year, and is said to be grammatically incorrect according to some Latin experts. Nevertheless, most Olympic disciplines and events can be broken down into these different areas.
So which disciplines represent each of these the most at the Winter Olympics? Are there particular events that hit one area more than another?
To work this out, HPN has measured each discipline – at its peak – for each of these characteristics.
Faster has been measured by the maximum speed of a given event, while higher is not the altitude of the event, but the height of the head of the competitor off the ground while competing in the event.
The fastest events at the Winter Olympics are alpine skiing, bobsleigh, and luge. Curling, with a relatively placid pace, is the slowest of all the events.
By contrast, freestyle skiing and snowboarding are the highest event at the Olympics, with the relatively horizontal ski jumping the other high flying event. Figure skating also sees athletes thrown in the air above human standing height
The luge and skeleton, by contrast, are designed for athletes to be as low as possible to the ice as possible.
Strength is measured by the weight carried, held or pushed by the athlete while competing in the event. This puts the hefty bobsleigh out front, followed by the figure skating which sees relatively small adult humans lifted into the air. Some events, like snowboarding, only require the individual to be out there, with nothing else not worn or strapped to them.
Finally, togetherness is expressed as a measure of teammates during the most “together” event of the discipline, putting the large ice hockey and figure skating teams out in front. The skeleton, one athlete pressed close to the ice, is firmly an individual pursuit.
As can be seen, few disciplines score highly in all categories. But can we find out the most Olympic of all of these pursuits?
By combining these measures, and ranking each discipline by each part of the motto, HPN has come up with the most Olympic of Olympic events.
Unsurprisingly, the top three disciplines are arguably the sports most traditionally associated with the Winter Olympics.
Figure skating at the Olympics predates even the Winter Olympics itself, with the event making its debut at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. Since then, the magicians on ice have captured the attention of those around the world with the speed and grace on display.
From the “Cool Runnings” teams from Jamaica to the heroic American two-time champion (and war hero) Billy Fiske, the bobsleigh has a long history of iconic stars and moments. The bobsleigh combines power with speed, with a fair bit of danger to boot.
But on top is the true test of an athlete, frozen water and gravity. While alpine skiing is often dominated by the alpine nations, its captivating to watch for all. There’s nowhere to hide at the top of the mountain, with the course the only obstacle to success.
With high speeds, big jumps and now teammates to boot, alpine skiing best exhibits the true ideals of the Olympic movement.
There’s eight medals up for grabs in the penultimate day of competition.
Freestyle skiing – Men’s halfpipe (1325 AEST)
After Eileen Gu flew to gold yesterday, it’s the turn of the men in the halfpipe to close the freestyle skiing program.
Expect to see big hits on the pipe, with rotations both ways, both switch and natural. Amplitude (aka height) also matters alongside pure spin. But for the rotation fans, expect to see 1260s, 1400s and 1620s (that’s four and a half rotations) on the pipe. For style fans, well-placed grabs matter a lot.
New Zealand’s Nico Porteous won bronze four years ago at just 16 years old, and he’s managed to qualify second for the final. Porteous comes into the event as the very slight favourite, but the field is tight across the board. Aaron Blunck qualified first with a very tight run, while the only champion ever in ski halfpipe – David Wise – is also lurking not far behind.
Watch rating: 5/5
Alpine skiing – Mixed team (1546 AEST)
The mixed team alpine skiing is relatively new to the Olympic program, but it’s an interesting watch for fans at home. Each heat sees four head to head battles across a slalom course with a steep jump in the middle, with the winner of the majority of battles progressing to the next round. If it’s a 2-2 tie, then the best combined speed moves on.
Austria grabbed the top spot in the fifteen team field, and the automatic bye to the quarterfinals. But there are strong skiers, and nations, right through the field. Switzerland are the reigning champions, and Norway the current World Champions.
Watch rating: 4/5
Cross-country skiing – Men’s 50km freestyle (1700 AEST)
The 50km freestyle is the final cross-country event on the men’s program, and the longest one as well. Many of the same names who have battled it out in the other events should figure near the top of the 50km. Johannes Høsflot Klæbo has won four medals so far in Beijing, and he will be shooting for his fifth. Alexander Bolshunov won the 30km skiathlon, and has been very strong over the distance races in recent years.
However, defending champion Iivo Niskanen has decided to skip the event, despite his strong showing at this Olympics to date.
Watch rating: 1.5/5
Curling – Men’s (1705 AEST)
After intense competition on the rink, the men’s curling has drawn to an end, with Sweden set to face off against Great Britain in the finale.
The two sides qualified at the top after the round robin stage, with the two sides only dropping three matches combined. Sweden are skipped by record breaking five-time World Champion skip Niklas Edin, a hero in the Swedish curling community.
However, Scotland’s Bruce Mouat has played some of the finest stones of the tournament, finishing fourth in the mixed doubles. Mouat has been the strongest in the competition with the final stone, leading the player percentages at 88.2% – ahead of Edin in second. Lead Hammy McMillan Jr. has also been stellar for team GB, with a player percentage of 91.6% 0- also leading the tournament.
Expect patient play, well set out guards and corner guards, and plenty of double takeouts. In the round robin, GB took out the win 7-6 – with Sweden winning three points in the last two ends to get close to the Mouat-led side.
Watch rating: 5/5
Speed skating – Men’s mass start (1930 AEST)
Speed skating – Women’s mass start (2000 AEST)
Fifteen skaters start at once, some number of them finish. Both these events are chaotic, with a bit of short track flavour injected into the otherwise very pure long format of speed skating. Often dubbed NASCAR on ice, favouritism doesn’t necessarily mean much here with the potential for bad positioning and falls. Two semi finals lead to one final, and running well in both is critical.
On the men’s side, it’s a pretty open field on recent form lines. The improbably named Belgian Bart Swings coms in with the World Cup lead, ahead of Ruslan Zakharov and Italian Andrea Giovannini. Two different skaters beat Swings at the World Championship – American Joe Mantina won gold and Arjan Stroetinga of the Netherlands got silver. Defending Olympic champion from South Korea, Lee Seung-hoon, is also here and a threat. Also of note is Dutch legend Sven Kramer in his last Olympic race ever, after narrowly missing a medal in the team pursuit earlier in Beijing.
Irene Schouten will be going for her 5th medal (2 gold, 2 bronze) at these games, and has won mass start medals before at the Olympics and elsewhere. Her fellow Dutch skater, Marijke Groenewoud, is the World Champion while Ivanie Blondlin of Canada leads the World Cup.
Watch rating: 4/5
Figure skating – Pair skating (2200 AEST)
Home nation pairing Sui Wenjing and Han Cong have finished on top in the opening Short Program part of the pairs program. They won silver in Pyeongchang and sit fourth in the current world cup season behind three Russian pairs – the same three ROC pairs who now sit second, third and fourth.
Evgenia Tarasova (the singles silver medallist) and Vladimir Morozov are fractionally behind in second. A pair from the ROC’s gold medallist mixed team, Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, are a couple of points back in third. Both of those two pairs set successive scoring world records a month ago in the European Championships. Sitting fourth is Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitrii Kozlovskii.
The medals are pretty likely to come out of these four pairs, but the ordering could be very tight. Tune in for the back end of the event.
Watch Rating: 3.5/5
Bobsleigh – Two-woman (0030 AEST)
Three German pairs sit in the top four at the halfway point, led by Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi. Nolte, the pilot, finished fourth in the monobob, and would likely be leading the world cup this season if she hadn’t missed a race. Second is Mariama Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt.
Lurking within striking distance are two American pairs led by their monobob gold and silver medalists. Elana Meyers Taylor leads the World Cup this year and her pairing with Sylvia Hoffman sits third, though it should be noted she’s tended to be consistent high finisher this season rather than a frequent winner, having won one race of eight.
The monobob gold medalist and two-woman world champion Kaillie Humphries with Kaysha Love are back in fifth and have better runs in them too.
Australians Bree Walker and Kiara Reddingius improved their position in the second run and now sit 12th, with a push into the top ten a realistic goal. Kiara converted from Heptathlon last year, and making it to the Olympics is itself a big achievement for her in a relatively short time since making the decision.
Alternative Medal Tally
Having established the pecking order of the most Olympic of Olympic sports, lets take the next step and weight the medal tally according to this. The methodology is to multiply each medal by the inverse of its ranking in Olympicness. For instance alpine skiing’s ranking is 15, then bobsleigh 14, and so forth.
Switzerland is ranked 7th in the 2022 medal tally, but leaps up to second due to the extremely Olympic nature of their alpine skiing medals.
Norway, which has good representation across the top few events, extends its lead with these weightings, while the 5th-ranked Netherlands drops to 14th due to the lack of higher and stronger in speed skating.