Winter Olympics’ weirdest rules
Niklas Mattsson of Sweden competes in the Men's Snowboard Big Air final at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships 2017 in Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Every game has rules… but some of them are pretty weird. Here’s a look at some of the unique rules at this year’s Winter Olympics events:
Given how many jumps and twirls you can watch in a figure skating routine, you might think that anything goes, but that’s not true. Doing a backflip during your routine is considered illegal, because you land on two feet instead of one.
In skeleton, you ride a sled head first down an icy hill. It’s pretty scary, but apparently the rules state that you are allowed to get off your sled to push it or move it — as long as you cross the finish line on top of it.
You need to carry a special thermometer if you want to be a bobsledder! There’s a rule about the temperature of the ‘runners,’ which are the blades at the bottom of the sleigh. Officials actually measure how hot or cold they are, and if they’re not within 4 degrees of the set of reference runners, the team is disqualified.
In curling, it’s fun to watch athletes hurl stones down a length of ice while shouting and sweeping with brooms! But if, for some strange reason, the stone was to break while being played, there’s a rule called the “Spirit of Curling” to decide where the replacement stone should be put. If the teams can’t agree on where to put it, the play starts again.
All you need for luge is a sled, a helmet and a tremendous amount of bravery to slide at high speeds down an icy slope! It also takes weight — a minimum weight to be exact. Men must weigh at least 90 kg, and women 75 kg, in order to qualify for the luge event. But don’t worry if you’re too light, there’s actually a rule that allows you to attach weights to yourself in order to make sure you hit the minimum amount.
If you like to play hockey with a big curved blade on your stick, you won’t be allowed to play with that stick in the Olympics. No banana curves here — there’s a rule that says that players are only allowed a curve maximum of 1.5 centimetres. That could be super tricky for players who are used to having a big scoop.
This year the Olympics will have a new snowboarding competition called Big Air. In it, boarders are judged on one single big jump with tricks! Sounds cool, but in the finals there’s a catch. The athletes get three tries to do their best trick, but they must spin in opposite directions on the jumps that are marked. So if the first trick is a frontside spin, then the other trick that would count for points must be a backside spin.
No handsies! It’s awesome to watch ski jumpers fly through the air off a giant ramp. But when they land, the rules say they are not allowed to touch the ground with their hands, even for a second! If they do, the jump doesn’t count.