Which Olympic event do you find the most impressive?

Oh, crap, please don’t tell me she’s injured and out of the Olympics?!

In, but still nursing the injury and so unlikely to be on her best form.

The pole vault has to be up there.

BMX freestyle and trampoline would be likely to send me to intensive care.

Come to think of it, ski jumping is pretty impressive, too, that a human can be projected that long and that far, and still land unharmed.

Most of the time.

I’ve always been impressed by some of the weightlifting. Especially at the lower weight classes, where the competitors might lift three times their body weight over their heads.

Unsurprising if you’re trying to do them both at once. But it would be amazing television.

That said, the last time I went trampolining I did my ankle in, and that was just basic bouncing.

It’s an impressive looking sport for sure, and standing at the top of a ski jump it’s hard to imagine hurling yourself down the slope. But the reality is that the jumpers are never particularly high off the snow, and when they fall the slope allows them to have a fairly easy ride out to the bottom. There’s risk for sure, but the visual is more dramatic than the reality.

Alpine skiers, especially in the Downhill, are at much greater risk from falls at much higher speeds (90 MPH vs 55 MPH) on much less forgiving terrain.

For me, the balance beam in gymnastics. The thing is 4 inches (10 cm) wide!! I tried walking on one once, and even that was not easy.

The pole vault is also amazing. Propel yourself twenty feet (six meters) in the air with a stick ?!

In the winter Olympics the biatholon is the most impressive. Imagine running up and down hills for ten minutes, then stopping to thread a needle. Repeat.

I miss Unbeatable Banzuke so much!

That guy is Stefan Holm, who holds the record for highest jump over his head. He is tied with Franklin Jacobs for jumping 59 cm (a little under 2 feet) above his head. He is about 5’11.25" (1.81m) and high jumped about 7’10.5" (2.40m). You can see the entire list here.

As far as gymnastics go, I’m much more impressed by the uneven bars than by the balance beam.

Of course, it gets more impressive yet when you realize that the same athletes compete in both of those, as well as vault (and floor, but that’s not as impressive).

Agreed. It also helps explain my pick: the Downhill. The Alpine Skiing event where you essentially just go straight down the whole mountain at full speed.

I enjoyed skiing in my younger, more bullet proof days, though I was never particularly good. Just barely above “bad” might even be fair to say. But I always found it super fun. Watching them run the downhill just blows my mind every time. Just full out, balls to the wall straight down the mountain.

I’m wondering now as I type this if Downhill is the fastest sport in all of the Olympics. Bobsled might match it, but huddled in a tank seems less precarious than balancing on sticks with nothing but a thick polyester suit to protect you, plus maybe some longjohns. If you go out of control and hit a structure, you’re an insect on a windshield. Even if bobsled actually is more dangerous statistically (no idea either way) I would feel more protected huddled in the sled than careening down a mountain.

Nothing in the summer games comes close to the downhill sports (including bobsled) in terms of speed, right? I wouldn’t think speed bicycle would be even close. (Google says downhill and bobsled are in the 90s, approaching 100 mph.)

Downhill is also like 10 times longer than bobsled, right? More impressive in the context of bigger and bolder, at least.


…and Skeleton. I thought about those, but I feel like balancing on your two feet is a more vulnerable position than lying down. But yeah, it’s definitely a “reasonable people can disagree” situation; both are right up there, as is bobsled. The sliders are ALL friggin’ nuts.

As an aside, I would definitely put Downhill ahead of ski jumping, and by a significant margin. I don’t think it’s even close between the two. (Google says Downhill speeds are half again faster than ski jumping: 90s vs 60s.)

Technically, I think bobsled is longer. Olympic bobsledding takes the combined time over four runs, which is roughly 4 minutes. Downhill skiing is a single run, about 2 minutes.

Go to the top of a ski jump and look down the hill. Then see if you still feel the same.

While there are dangers in bobsled, luge, and skeleton if you manage to crash at high speed you’re following a track designed to keep you moving in a safe direction. You won’t hit any obstructions, or fly off course (although I believe it used to happen on older courses).

Downhill racing takes a lot of care to design the courses to be as safe as possible, and they install netting all along the course. But catching an edge at 90 MPH will do bad things to your knees, shoulders, back, and skull no matter what precautions are taken. It’s an inherently unsafe sport at those speeds.

I read that as the Downhill course is twice as long as bobsled. Googling seems to confirm this:

2.4 to 5km distance
up to 1000m vertical descent

1.4km distance
130m vertical descent

If the Downhill course were half as long and they ran it twice, that would make it less impressive than it is at full scale.

Well, I suck at skiing but I could snowplow down the scarier parts of a downhill course (or more likely turn sharply every 6 feet) while the ski jump has a minimum threshold of “no way” built into it.

I will say that in the ski simulator video game Steep, doing long downhill runs at full speed is way more impressive both to the senses (as the trees rush by in a blur) and also in the “oh shit!!!” sense (as you catch 20m of air by accident when you hit a ridge) than doing the rigid and fixed (and much slower) ski jumps. Obviously a video game isn’t remotely the same thing, of course. But in terms of simulating the events, downhill is way more impressive.