So, the skeleton bob, a sport on which we are all experts now. It involves sliding down an ice tube on a sled like an adapted tea-tray, although not adapted to include steering or brakes or anything wussy like that. Most people would lie on it and get someone to give them a push, but skeleton bobbers start off running with the sled. When it’s going sufficiently fast they leap into the air and land on top of it with their arms underneath them, the better to hold on while cornering under forces of 5g. Wikipedia comments that “It is the sport’s accessibility to amateurs which has made it so popular”, to which “You have got to be f#cking joking” is clearly the only reasonable response.
It differs from the luge in that athletes lie face down, which makes it far more photogenic but has the disadvantage of putting your face millimetres from the ice during a run. At speeds of 140 km an hour, therefore, the faceplate of your helmet and your ability to keep your head up are the only things standing between you and a future of having to paint your face onto the front of your skull. This probably explains why skeleton bobbers have such cool helmets.
It does share one major theme with all of the sports I have seen so far at Sochi, namely, rank insanity. The overriding objective seems to be to find the highest, steepest, slideyest slope around and vie to find ever more suicidally dangerous ways of getting down it. Some sports add style points for extra fun, and possibly also to discourage fledgling competitors from shrieking and crapping themselves all the way down.
The exception is the biathlon, which takes a sport, shooting, requiring zen-like calm and a slow, measured heart-beat and intersperses it with bouts of skiing up a mountain with your rifle strapped to your back. If you told me that next week there is a version in which competitors have to ski with their rifle cocked and shoved down their trousers, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.