Olympics: Beyond the O Words

For the tongue-tied and the perplexed, a concise guide to Axels, Lutzes, morgues and other subtleties of winter

Most viewers tuning in to the Winter Olympics will be limited to a vocabulary of three small o words: "ooh" for any soaring feat after which the athlete remains in an upright position, "oops" for ungainly plops onto ice or snow and "ouch" for the spectacular disasters. Couch-cozy spectators are likely to remain otherwise speechless at the subtleties of winter sports. They will not be helped by the glossolalia that accompanies the coverage of the Games, including such fascinating but baffling terms as Axels and Lutzes, telemark and super-Gs. Enlightened appreciation will also be hindered by Zen-like axioms ("the fastest way...

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