No Bones About It: See How Terrifying the Sport of Skeleton Can Be

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV, AFP/Getty Images
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV, AFP/Getty Images

While ice skating has seen its fair share of sprained ankles and broken limbs, when it comes to death-defying winter sports, it's hard to compete with skeleton. In the Olympic sliding sport, riders take a running start and launch themselves face-first down an icy downhill track on a sled only an inch off the ground. Great Big Story followed two-time Olympic skeleton slider John Daly on one of his runs and, make no bones about it, this is not a sport for the faint-of-heart.

Elite skeleton sliders like Daly can regularly achieve speeds of 90 miles per hour during a run, experiencing forces of up to 5 Gs over the course of a race. This would be pretty heart-pounding no matter the sport, but for skeleton athletes, that kind of speed and force seems particularly harrowing. A skeleton slider's head hangs over the top of the sled, and that extra force makes their head harder to hold up. According to the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association, athletes slide down the course with their chins mere centimeters from the ice. Going around particularly high-speed corners, they'll often scrape the icy surface of the course with their chins—which in turn obscures their ability to see what's in front of them, forcing them to steer by feel until they can lift up their head again.

The event can be harrowing and even deadly, and is risky enough that it has been banned from the Olympics—twice. It returned to the Games in 2002 for the first time in 54 years.

"If you start to get stiff, if you start to get scared, it's not going to work—the sled's going to break loose on you and you are going to crash," Daly warns in the video. "You have to embrace the speed." Sounds simple, right?

Think you could handle it? Take a run with Daly in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

Simone Biles Just Became the Most Decorated Female Gymnast in History

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0 br
Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0 br

Simone Biles became a household name when she won four gold medals in gymnastics at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Three years later, she has proven that she's still among the best in the sport's history. At the 2019 Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, Biles won her 21st world champ medal—making her the most decorated female gymnast of all time, The New York Times reports.

The U.S. women's team competed at the event in order to retain their title of best in the world. Biles racked up the highest individual scores with her vault, balance beam, and floor routines, helping the U.S. earn an overall score of 172.330 points. The team bested Russia, the second-place team, by 5.801 points and won their seventh consecutive gold at a world competition or Olympics.

Biles was previously tied with Svetlana Khorkina for most world championship medals held by a female gymnast. She now holds the record for the women's sport, and is just two medals shy of male gymnast Vitaly Scherbo's record of 23.

At 22, Simone Biles has already made a historic impact on the sport. In 2013, she had a difficult new floor exercise move named after her—a double layout with a 180-degree turn at the end.

[h/t The New York Times]

The New Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals Are Made From Recycled Electronics

Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020

The Olympics have ancient roots, but Tokyo is finding ways to update the event in time for the summer games in 2020. The latest idea shared by the organizing committee may not be as flashy as an artificial meteor shower or as essential as modernized toilets, but it's no less innovative. As Engadget reports, all of the medals awarded at the 2020 Summer Olympics will be made from recycled electronics—and their designs have been unveiled to the public for the first time.

Many electronics contain precious metals like copper, silver, and gold—the same elements needed to make the Olympic medals. With hundreds of pounds of the materials destined to become e-waste in Japan each year, the Olympic committee came up with a plan to put some of it to good use.

In 2017, the Olympics organizers called upon Japanese residents to donate their old smartphones and other devices so they could be made into medals for the 2020 games. Over the past two years, the committee has collected 78,985 tons of donated electronics (including more than 6.2 million phones), and from that haul they've recovered approximately 70 pounds of gold, 7716 pounds of silver, and 4850 pounds of bronze, which was more than enough material to cast new medals for each Olympic event. You can get a peek at the design of the final products in the video below.

The 2020 Olympics will mark Tokyo's second time hosting the games (their first go was in 1964). By the time the games conclude next summer, organizers are expected to have spent $20 billion putting the event together.

[h/t Engadget]

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