Which Olympic sports could be medaled in less than a year of practice?

So Lauryn Williams of the United States, who has a distinguished career as a sprinter in the summer Olympics (gold in the 4 x 100 meter relay, silver in the 100 meter dash), earned a silver medal in the 2-man bobsled at Sochi. She started her bobsled career 6 months earlier.

In what other sports would this be possible? I’m having trouble coming up with many sports where someone with no experience whatsoever could medal after such a short amount of practice. World-class athletes, even ones in fantastic physical shape, would usually need more training time to become medal worthy in most events.

Well, team events are your best bets, certainly. I could win an Olympic medal in Men’s Ice Hockey with no practice at all if Team Canada let me warm the bench for them. Bobsled’s another good choice: if you’re already a fast, powerful runner and you hook up with a good team, apparently you can pick up the rest quick enough. (Of course, then there’s the question of why your years of training as a sprinter don’t count towards your practice time.)

Become one of those recreational skiers with some tenuous connection to a small, tropical country that will let you carry its flag in the ceremonies. Then arrange a mass murder of all the real skiers.

VarlosZ hits a good point when he asks “what constitutes practice?” Is a sprinter who becomes the pushing guy in a bobsled team not practicing all those years they learn to sprint?

If you discount practice in other sports, though, then sure, bobsled. I could see someone transitioning from luge to skeleton or vice versa, and many of the new skiing and snowboarding disciplines are so new that a highly skilled skiier or snowboarder could move into a new one and win quickly if they had the talent.

Somewhat related thread I started a few years ago

Boy, that escalated quickly.

Proper form in the discus or javelin can be taught in a single track season.

If this is a generic “run faster, jump higher, laugh when the others vomit in a quiet corner” athlete, the 3000M steeplechase provides LOTS of opportunities for any advantage to show up - acceleration, speed-over-distance, jumping, landing.

Bob Mathias first competed in the decathlon in early 1948 and won the Gold in London that summer.

I would suggest clay target shooting would be another one - the basics of handling a double-barrelled shotgun can be taught in an hour or two and while the sport is a lot more involved than that, it’s based on hand-eye co-ordination and ability to judge distances etc rather than physical fitness.

Some people have a real talent for the sport - my brother, for example, broke 20 of 25 clays the first time he’d ever fired a shotgun at anything besides a stationary paper target and I honestly believe, given a year to train (as well as enough funds to do it, a decent shotgun, and a good coach) someone with a modicum of talent could conceivably go from “never having held a gun before” to “winning a medal at the Olympics/Commonwealth Games”.

Setting aside the given possibility of going to say St. Barts and giving the government a large sum of money in exchange for being allowed to become a citizen and join/form the Olympic ski team from St. Barts and also already being a world class skier, it’s never going to happen.

These days people start training or being trained for the Olympics and most other sports as young as six months old. The athletes at the Olympics at least from the major countries are the absolute elite of the elite, the .001% of the 1% in their particular sport. And yes this includes stuff like bobsled and skeleton and luge.

Then why hasn’t anyone done this? It’s not like this is a some brand new idea.

Contrary to what you claim the skill sets required have little if any overlap and require different muscle groups to be built up and used. As to the new skiing snowboarding events being new, no they aren’t. They may be new to the Olympics, but they have existed for over 30 years albeit in primitive form in the early years, as is the case with all sports. But to say that the #1 ranked downhill skier could just walk over and medal in moguls or whatever after 6 months of training is ludicrous. You literally have to relearn how to ski and your body has to learn an entire new set of muscle memories and even then you are 15-18 years behind the kids who have been doing it since they were 6 months old.

Fortunately, tridents were not widely available in Sochi.

IIRC, actress Geena Davis became a rather expert archer (and came close to qualifying for the Olympics a few years ago) pretty much practicing during breaks on movie sets. I wouldn’t be that surprised to see someone representing USA in archery saying, “I only took up the sport about a year ago after seeing The Hunger Games.”

As far as Geena Davis goes, no. She placed 24th out of 300 in a semi final event, never came anywhere close to even making the finals let alone the Olympic team.

Realize that there are two skill sets in bobsled - pusher, and driver. The pushers have to run really hard pushing the bobsled for the first 5 seconds, then climb into the sled. After that, their job is to keep low. That’s not a lot of new skill to pick up.

The commentators mentioned that the bobsled teams are picking up their members now from other sports like track and field or football. Basically, athletes that already have trained in running and/or pushing fast and hard. So those have been training for some time, just not the specifics of moving a sled. But they are using more athletes than random schmoes.

The drivers are the ones that need more skill. You don’t get to be an Olympic level driver in six months. Unless you’re from Jamaica. :wink:

The American woman (a housewife I believe) who took gold in London hit something like 99 of 100. There is good and then there is good.

an individual event? from a standing start?

none…not even close. I think some people are underestimating what is required.