Skeleton at the Beijing Olympics


FILE PHOTO: Skeleton – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men’s Competition – Olympic Sliding Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 15, 2018 - Yun Sung-bin of South Korea in action during the heat. REUTERS/Edgar Su

(Reuters) - Focus on the skeleton events at the Beijing Olympics.

THE ABSOLUTE BASICS

One of the Winter Olympics' most exhilarating sports, individual athletes push their sleds to build momentum before leaping aboard and plummeting headfirst down a steep and icy track at speeds exceeding 129 kilometres an hour.

With only two events for the skeleton - the men's singles and the women's singles - it has joint-fewest medals at the Olympics.

Winning margins normally come down to hundredths of seconds, with corners the most brutal part for athletes, with G-forces up to five times normal levels - higher than some rocket launches.

HOW MANY MEDALS? There are just two gold medals up for grabs.

WHAT HAPPENED IN PYEONGCHANG?

South Korea's "Iron Man" Yun Sung-bin took gold in the men's singles in his home country, ahead of Nikita Tregubov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia. Great Britain performed strongly in the women's competition with Lizzy Yarnold taking gold and Laura Deas bronze, with German's Jacqueline Loelling between them with silver.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN BEIJING?

Latvia veteran Martins Dukurs finished fourth four years ago after a poor start, but he will again be a force to be reckoned with in Beijing after winning the World Cup competition for the 11th time last week.

Great Britain's Yarnold has retired, so her country will look to Deas to keep up the winning streak. However, she faces stiff competition from Germany's Loelling and Tina Hermann.

WHAT'S NEW?

Touted as the "Flying Snow Dragon" due to its zig-zagging shape, the sinuous sliding track features a first-of-its-kind 360 degree loop.

WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?

Feb. 10 to Feb. 12.

WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?

The sliding events are being held at the newly constructed Yanqing National Sliding Centre, in a mountainous area 74 kilometres northwest of Beijing.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

The skeleton supposedly takes its name from an entirely new, skeleton-like steel sledge, introduced in 1892. Like other slide events, the skeleton's spiritual home is the Swiss resort town of St. Moritz. While the skeleton featured in the 1928 and 1948 games, it fell into obscurity as bobsleigh and luge became more popular. It made its return in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

WELL FANCY THAT

There was controversy at the Pyeongchang games over Great Britain's special "skinsuits", which used drag-resistant ridges to improve aerodynamics. The USA's Katie Uhlaender said many teams and athletes questioned whether they were legal. It will be interesting to see how suits have adapted four years later.

(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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