Olympic dreams

Rich Moffitt / Flickr--CC

Can Kansas Citians live the Olympic dream? Figure skater John Coughlin came close. The Kansas City native and his partner in ice pairs, Caydee Denney, just missed out on the selection for the Olympic team.

Competing at the elite level of figure skating while training in Kansas City has its challenges. But it’s improving. When the Independence Events Center opened four winters ago, not only the newly established Missouri Mavericks hockey team took off. So did the Heartland Figure Skating Club.

Courtesy of Coach Joseph Potts

Kansas may be an unlikely place to find a bobsledder in training, but 23-year-old Anna Norsant says this is where she belongs.

Norsant is committed to the high-speed Olympic sport, which begins with two or four athletes pushing a snow-car-type sled at a sprinting speed, jumping in, and then descending down an ice covered run.

Esther Honig / KCUR

Ski jumping was developed in Norway and has been around since the early 19th century. In this event, skiers go down a take-off ramp, jump, and attempt to impress judges, who give points for style.

The Nordic combined, also developed in Norway, is a combination of cross country skiing and ski jumping.

Flickr kylemac

  Bobsled, Skeleton, and Luge are winter Olympic sports that involve zipping down an ice covered track on a type of sleigh as fast as you can. (We’re talking like 90 mph.)

All three sports use the same type of track, or “run,” but the sleds are different enough to categorize them each into their own sport.  

So what’s the difference?

John Lemieux / Flickr--CC

Olympic Freestyle skiing is a form of skiing that encompasses many different disciplines, including: aerials, moguls and ski cross.

For aerials, competitors ski straight down a mountain toward jumps that hurls them into the air. In the moguls competition, skiers race down a mountain, navigating around large bumps and perform small aerial jumps throughout the course.

Ski Cross is similar but the ski course involves natural terrain as well as artificial features like jumps, rollers or banks.  

supersum / Flickr--CC

Figure skating and ice dancing are the two Winter Olympic sports that combine sport with art. The choreographed performances show not only elite skill and athleticism, but also artistry and emotion. 

Practiced inside on a standard sized rink, figure skating is a sport that is easily practiced in the Kansas City area.

Laura Ziegler

 

Alpine skiing is the most commonly practiced Winter Olympic sport. But, as Midwesterners our "alpine" options leave much to be desired. Still, if you want to feel the air through your hair as you barrel down a mountain on skis or a snowboard, we have some options. The mountain just won't be quite be the size of those found in Sochi.

Where to go:
Snow Creek Park, Weston, Mo. 

Cost:
Adult lift ticket: $43
Child lift ticket: $28
Equipment rentals: $10-$25

Laura Spencer / KCUR

You will likely face two challenges if you want to try cross country skiing in Kansas City: the right weather conditions and available equipment.

Cross country skiing is considered one of the most challenging of the endurance sports. Participants use skis and poles to move across snow-covered terrain. Traditional cross country skis are long and narrow; holding on to the poles, you push with one ski and glide with the other.

Donna Vestal / KCUR

Speed skating is ice skating that falls into two basic categories — long track and short track. Long track races takes places on a 400m long oval rink with skaters competing in pairs. Short track involves four to six skaters on a track about a fourth that size.

Kansas City doesn’t have an Olympic sized rink for even short track, but a hockey rink will work.