The 2018 Olympic Sports the World Can’t Wait For—See Them Ranked

The 2018 Olympic Games officially start tomorrow in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the whole world is watching—but will they all be watching the same events?

We tracked the traffic in the weeks leading up to the games to see which sports were getting the most pre-games buzz and from where.1 Take a look to see global and US trends around this year’s winter games, and don’t forget to click through the US maps to see how your state compares.

Urgent PSA! Two of the most popular events start before the opening ceremonies. Keep reading for more or find the NBC schedule at the bottom of this post.

Hockey, figure skating, and curling take the podium

1st (Gold): Ice hockey

Starts Sunday, Feb. 11

World interest. Ice hockey is the most anticipated sport in the Olympic games this year! Not surprisingly, hockey’s home country of Canada leads the world in interest. And it’s not a small lead—Canada has five times more search volume for this topic than the United States, and the US is pretty high up there as the sixth most interested country in the world.

US interest. In the United States, the highest interest is clustered in the northern Midwest and New England. Minnesota takes the lead for most interest, with North Dakota following close behind.

Top questions asked. This week, the most-Googled questions about ice hockey were, “How many periods [are] in hockey?” and “How long is a hockey game?” It’s interesting that the top questions are logistical—looks like people are making hockey a priority in their calendars this week.

2nd (Silver): Figure skating

STARTS TODAY! Thursday, Feb. 8

World interest. The countries most excited about figure skating this year are some of the coldest inhabited places in the world—Finland, Russia, and Canada. Other places with arctic tendencies show excitement, too—Chile and Argentina. The United States places 12th behind Japan, several Eastern European countries, and two of the -stans, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

US interest. In the states, the trends are very similar to hockey; North Dakota and Minnesota lead the pack (but flipped—North Dakota is first), and the interest is clustered in New England and the Midwest.

Top questions asked. This week, people were most interested in the quantity, names, and nationalities of the skaters competing in South Korea this year. It’s possible that figure skating feels more individualistic than other winter sports since we actually see the athletes’ faces, and each performance has an element of personal artistic expression.

3rd (Bronze): Curling

STARTS TODAY! Thursday, Feb. 8

World interest. Third place was a close call between curling and bobsled, and the results are wacky. Canada shows the most interest in curling, while a place with almost no ice—Brazil—comes in second. The USA is the seventh most interested country, beating out the sport’s own mother country, Scotland. Maybe they’re tired of it? They have been playing since the 1500s.

US interest. North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are in the top three. No surprise there. But fourth goes to one of the hottest, driest states we’ve got—Arizona—which also beats number five, Alaska. Way to go, Arizona.

Top questions asked. The top questions about curling are basic, things like “What is curling?” and “How to play curling.” Normally such basic questions would be odd for the third most anticipated sport, but we’re thinking that curling is so obscure, so quirky, that people can’t wait to watch it.

The remaining winter games events, ranked by US interest

4th: Bobsled

Most interested countries: Latvia, Czechia, and Canada

Most interested states: North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana

Top questions: “How fast do bobsledders go,” “How much does a bobsleigh weigh,” and “How to get into bobsledding”

5th: Speed skating

Most interested countries: Japan, Canada, and Norway

Most interested states: Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Vermont

Top questions: “How fast do speed skaters skate,” “Why do speed skaters wear sunglasses,” and “Why do speed skaters swing one arm?”

6th: Luge

Most interested countries: Slovenia, New Zealand, and Croatia

Most interested states: North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming

Top questions: “What natural force slows the luge?” and “What is the difference between luge and skeleton?”

7th: Skeleton

Most interested countries: Latvia, Norway, and Finland

Most interested states: Wyoming, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Iowa

Top questions: “How fast do skeleton racers go,” “What is the sport skeleton,” and “How do you steer a skeleton sled?”

8th: Snowboarding

Most interested countries: Japan, Norway, and Slovakia (the United States is 16th!)

Most interested states: Vermont, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah

Top questions: “How to snowboard” and “Is skiing or snowboarding easier?”

9th: Biathlon

Most interested countries: Norway, Belarus, and the Ukraine

Most interested states: Vermont, Montana, and Wyoming

Top questions: “How far do biathletes shoot?” and “What caliber are biathlon rifles?”

10th: Ski jumping

Most interested countries: Poland, Slovenia, and Germany

Most interested states: Vermont, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire

Top questions: “How fast do ski jumpers go?” and “How is ski jumping scored?”

11th: Alpine skiing

Most interested countries: Slovenia, Norway, and Sweden

Most interested states: Vermont, Wyoming, and New Hampshire

Top questions: “How fast do downhill skiers go?” and “Is downhill skiing good exercise?”

12th: Short track speed skating

Most interested countries: South Korea, Latvia, and the Netherlands

Most interested states: North Dakota, Vermont, Iowa, South Dakota, and Rhode Island

Top questions: “How fast do short track speed skaters go?” and “Is speed skating dangerous?”

13th: Cross-country skiing

Most interested countries: Canada, Iceland, and Norway (United States is 5th)

Most interested states: Vermont, Alaska, and Montana

Top questions: “How to cross-country ski” and “What to wear cross-country skiing?”

14th: Freestyle skiing

Most interested countries: Norway, Canada, and Czechia

Most interested states: Vermont, North Dakota, Montana, and Maine

Top questions: “How does someone win freestyle skiing?” and “What size should freestyle skis be?”

15th: Nordic combined

Most interested countries: Norway, Estonia, and Finland

Most interested states: North Dakota, Vermont, and South Dakota

Top questions: “Where did Nordic combined originate?” and “What are the rules for Nordic combined?”

The official Olympics channels on DISH Network

All US broadcasting rights to the 2018 Winter Olympics have been awarded to NBCUniversal,2 which includes the networks below. Tune in to these channels on TV or the DISH Anywhere mobile app to see all the events you want from the winter games:

  • NBCEnter your zip code to find your local DISH channel number
  • CNBC – DISH channel 208
  • NBCSN – DISH channel 159
  • USA – DISH channel 105

Don’t forget! Curling, figure skating, and other sports start before the opening ceremonies. Check the full NBC Olympics schedule here so you don’t miss your favorite event.

1 Google Trends, “Olympic Games Pyeongchang 2018 Featured Insights” and custom cross-references. Data retrieved Feb. 6, 2018

2 The International Olympic Committee, “IOC Awards Broadcast Rights.” Data retrieved Feb. 6, 2018

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