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What Does It Take To Become A Winter Athlete?

February 2018Words by Mr Dan Davies

Illustration by Ms Karin Kellner

The Winter Olympics, which begin in PyeongChang in South Korea on 9 February, are the quadrennial celebration of the many strange and dangerous things you can do when water freezes. Fifteen sporting disciplines – the majority a variation on the practice of travelling very fast downhill on pieces of wood – will involve competitors from more than 90 countries launching themselves from great heights, attempting to pull off improbable feats on ice, and crossing great tracts of snowy waste.

There will be those who regard winter as nothing more than an opportunity to buy a new jacket and some chunky knitwear. But for others – those who yearn for the raw thrill of competing in sub-zero temperatures – the 23rd Winter Olympics will be a chance to get acquainted with a new cast of heroes.

Who those heroes are, and how they come to be, will be revealed in due course. Until then, we’ve tried to imagine what makes winter athletes do the ridiculous things they do.