With 2019 good and gone, seasoned sports journalist Hannah Robbins suggests some new sports to add for your viewing pleasure in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics.
As the new year begins, everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, but one thing seems to stay the same: their sports habits. However, while a small number of sports seem to monopolize all the attention, there are many others out there, and with the Tokyo Olympics coming soon, there is no better time to get involved in watching new sports. Without further ado, here is an (abridged) list of some new sports to add to your playlists and bookmarks.
First up, climbing. Bouldering, speed climbing and lead climbing are all in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the first time. Unlike most sports, where each of these completely different disciplines would receive their own medal, climbing in the Olympics is a triathlon, which means you will have three different styles to watch. Bouldering is free climbing with no specific route and each competitor tries to get to different checkpoints of the route, earning points at each. Speed climbing is one specific route that climbers try to summit as quickly as possible, usually reaching the goal in under six seconds for men and eight seconds for women to advance in head-to-head races. Lead climbing is as simple as climbing the highest possible for a given route. Each of these aspects of climbing is available on YouTube to watch, and the crazy maneuvers alone make the sport easy to watch. The next competition is the Pan-American Championships from Feb. 24 to March 1.
Next up, we have rhythmic gymnastics. While not as famous as is counterpart artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics is best known for the ribbon apparatus, where gymnasts have a 17-foot ribbon they use for complex gymnastics. This sport has both an individual event and a team event, where five gymnastics compete together. Unlike artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics is more about telling a story than competing high flying tumbling passes, and watching the sport seems more akin to watching a ballet than watching Simone Biles on balance beam. For the first time since 1991, the United States has qualified two individuals for the individual competition and has a chance to send a group to Tokyo as well. The next competition is the first of the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup series April 3-5, however the 2019 World Championships is online.
Another often forgotten sport is surfing. Also making its debut in the 2020 Olympics, this sport that is another reason we all should visit the fiftieth state and has such fun terminology as “ankle busters” (small waves) and “dropping in” (trying to surf a wave when it’s not your turn). If you needed another reason to watch a sport with timeless competitors (Bethany Hamilton has been spotted in competitions recently), look no further than the commentators, whose accents and slang make for a very entertaining watch. Since the surfing competition will take place in the ocean, we’re in for a wild time in Tokyo, and a primer will make the upsets and waves all the better. The next competition will be the Sunset Open Jan. 18-28.