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2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding the Winter Games

Everything you need to know about the 102 events played

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The 2018 Winter Games had their opening ceremony Friday in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

With the exception of 1940 and 1944, where the games were canceled due to World War II, the Winter Games have been held every four years since 1924. This year's games will include 102 sporting events played by close to 3,000 athletes from 92 countries. 

This year has new events in addition to Olympic staples. Do you know all the sports and how they're scored? Local 4 has compiled a list with all the information you need to understand this year's Winter Games.

Snowboarding and freestyle skiing

Snowboarding
U.S. gold medals earned: 10
U.S. silver medals earned: 5
U.S. bronze medals earned: 9

Freestyle skiing
U.S. gold medals earned: 8
U.S. silver medals earned: 7
U.S. bronze medals earned: 6

Sharing a lot of the events, snowboarding and freestyle skiing has a lot of overlap, but the sports are performed with different equipment and skills.

In snowboarding, first introduced in 1998, the United States has earned the gold medal in the men's halfpipe event three of the five games so far. Two more gold medals were awarded to American athletes in the men's snowboard cross events and one gold medal was earned in the slopestyle event.

The United States has also earned the gold medal three out of the five games for the women's halfpipe event and one in women's slopestyle. 

Snowboarding and freestyle skiing events will be held at Bokwang Phoenix Park.

For both snowboarding and freestyle skiing, the United States have ranked in first place in terms of medals earned. 

For a full breakdown on how these sports work, check out 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

Alpine skiing

U.S. gold medals earned: 16
U.S. silver medals earned: 19
U.S. bronze medals earned: 9

One of the oldest sports in the Winter Games, alpine skiing covers downhill skiing, using gravity to move the skier instead of their own motions. 

Events will take place at Yongpyong Resort and Jeongseon Alpine Centre.

The United States ranks third, behinds Switzerland and Austria.

To learn more about Alpine skiing, check out 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding alpine skiing.

Biathlon

U.S. gold medals earned: 0
U.S. silver medals earned: 0
U.S. bronze medals earned: 0

Combining skiing and shooting, this sport has its roots in military exercises. This year's 11 events will take place at Alpensia Cross-Country and Biathlon Centre.

The United States has never been awarded a medal for biathlon or its predecessor military patrol.

To learn more about the biathlon, read 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding biathlon.

Curling

U.S. gold medals earned: 0
U.S. silver medals earned: 0
U.S. bronze medals earned: 1

This popular winter sport was actually absent from the Winter Games from 1928 to 1994. Players slide rocks along ice in an attempt to have them come to a rest within a target or to dislodge opponents' stones.

Curling will be taking place at Gangneung Curling Centre.

The only medal in curling the United States has ever earned was a bronze medal earned for the men's event in 2006. Canada dominates the sport, holding nearly twice as many medals as second-place rank Sweden.

To know more about curling, check out 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding curling.

Bobsled, luge and skeleton


Bobsled
U.S. gold medals earned: 7
U.S. silver medals earned: 7
U.S. bronze medals earned: 10

Luge
U.S. gold medals earned: 0
U.S. silver medals earned: 2
U.S. bronze medals earned: 3

Skeleton
U.S. gold medals earned: 3
U.S. silver medals earned: 4
U.S. bronze medals earned: 1

One of the oldest winter sports outside of the Winter Games, people of all ages love these high-speed races. Despite their similar styles, there are major differences in how these sledding sports are played.

Events will take place at the Alpensia Sliding Centre. 

The United States are ranked seventh in luge, third in bobsled and first in skeleton.

To learn the differences in how these three sports are played, read 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding bobsled, luge and skeleton.

Cross-country skiing

U.S. gold medals earned: 0
U.S. silver medals earned: 1
U.S. bronze medals earned: 0

Cross-country skiing is the evolution of the earliest form of skiing, in which skiers would use sticks or spears to propel themselves through the snow. 

Held at every Winter Games since 1924, this year's events will take place at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre.

With only one medal earned, the United States ranks 19th in cross-country skiing.

To learn the ins and outs of the sport, check out 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding cross-country skiing.

Nordic combined and ski jumping

Nordic combined
U.S. gold medals earned: 1
U.S. silver medals earned: 3
U.S. bronze medals earned: 0

Ski jumping
U.S. gold medals earned: 0
U.S. silver medals earned: 0
U.S. bronze medals earned: 1

Nordic combined is a sport that mixes ski jumping and cross-country races. Events will be held at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre and the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre.

In a qualifying round Thursday, all four men the United States sent qualified for the normal hill ski jumping event. 

The United States ranks ninth for Nordic combined and is tied for 15th with France for ski jumping.

To find out how these sports are scored and more, check out 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding Nordic combined and ski jumping.

Ice hockey and speed skating

Short track speed skating
U.S. gold medals earned: 4
U.S. silver medals earned: 6
U.S. bronze medals earned: 9

Long track speed skating
U.S. gold medals earned: 29
U.S. silver medals earned: 22
U.S. bronze medals earned: 16

Ice Hockey
U.S. gold medals earned: 3
U.S. silver medals earned: 11
U.S. bronze medals earned: 2

Comprised of both short track and long track, speed skating is a race that puts emphasis on strategy and endurance. Events include different style of races on different tracks and a brand-new mass start race with 24 skaters racing at once.

The United States currently ranks second for long track speed skating, fourth in short track speed skating and third in ice hockey. 

To learn more about how Olympic hockey is different from the NHL and what kind of races to expect, read 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding ice hockey and speed skating.

Figure skating

U.S. gold medals earned: 15
U.S. silver medals earned: 16
U.S. bronze medals earned: 18

The most popular of all the Winter Games returns. This sport has athletes scored on their skill and the creativity of their choreography. 

Scores are calculated through complex formulas with multiplication modifiers being added to different components of the scores and some judges' scores being dropped entirely. 

The United States ranks first in figure skating, earning almost twice as many medals as Russia, ranked second.

To learn more about the scoring process, check out 2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding figure skating.