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The Signpost guide to Olympic Sports

When it comes to the Winter Olympics, the bobsledding and luge events captivate their audiences and for an understandable reason — it’s professional sledding.

The USA- 1 bobsled team, including driver Steven Holcomb, front, celebrate as they enter the finish area during the four-man bobsled event at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT)

Athletes from nations around the world will gather in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympic Games. These athletes have trained for the majority of their lives, hoping to bring home a medal for their native countries.

Both sports consist of riders on sleds racing down an icy track, and trying to cross the finish line with the fastest time.

Bobsleds are large and fit one, two or four athletes, with the driver steering and the caboose controlling the brakes while luge sleds are narrow and more aerodynamic to achieve faster speeds and only hold one to two racers.

While both sports are dangerous, the luge achieves such high speeds that racers often cannot lift their heads up to see where they are going due to the G-force.

According to the official Olympic website, “luge riders hurtle down a slippery ice track at great speed, relying on reflexes for steering. Unlike bobsleigh, however, they have no protection should they make an error.”

In the 2018 games, Germany will look to continue its dominance as they have 31 total gold medals in the sport. The rest of the world only has 13 gold medals in luge, seven of them coming from Italy.

USA did snag a bronze medal four years ago in Sochi, so they will look to continue their upward trajectory with a respectable performance in Pyeongchang. Italy, Canada, Austria and Latvia are also expected to contend for a medal.

While Germany is the historical favorite, 22 total countries will race down the track on the luge.

The events will consist of men’s and women’s singles, as well as men’s doubles. Luge also features mixed doubles and a mixed team relay, in which men and women compete together.

As for bobsledding, the official Olympic website describes it as “a winter sport invented by the swiss in the late 1860s in which teams make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled.”

Olympic viewers and attendees will see both men’s and women’s two-man, men’s four-man bobsledding and men’s monobob sledding, where they slide on their own.

There will also be an opportunity for Disney to sequel the 1993 film, “Cool Runnings,” which is based on the real life story of the Jamaican bobsled team that qualified for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Jamaica will send its first ever women’s bobsledding athletes to the 2018 games.

Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian is an athlete who had competed for the USA in bobsledding, but because her father is Jamaican, she is able to compete for Jamaica in the games.

“I want to show it doesn’t matter where you come from. I’m a girl from Jersey who is mixed. Who would have thought that I would be bobsledding?” Fenlator-Victorian said.

Nigeria will also be making their national Winter Olympic debut, competing in the bobsleigh event.

Nations like Ghana, Nigeria, Russia, USA and Canada will attempt to podium, while Germany will hope to have as much success in bobsledding as they have had in luge over the years, sending the full allocation of three German sleds to compete in each event.

Over 30 countries officially qualified to compete, so there will be plenty of diversity showcased in the sport.

Men’s and women’s luge will start Feb. 10 and will conclude on Feb. 15. As for bobsleigh, competition will start Feb. 18 and conclude on Feb. 25 for both men and women.

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