To help them grip the ice at the start, athletes’ shoes have up to 300 tiny spikes on them.
One man — Martins Dukurs of Latvia, 33 — has dominated skeleton, winning every World Cup from 2010 to 2017. But he has found frustration at the Olympics. He was second as the favorite in both 2010 and 2014, and in both cases he lost to a slider with home-ice advantage, Jon Montgomery of Canada in Vancouver and Aleksandr Tretiakov of Russia in Sochi.
Tretiakov has lost his gold medal because of a doping violation, but Dukurs for now is still listed only as the silver medalist.
Latvia has never won a gold medal at the Winter Games. Dukurs is no doubt hoping to win the gold on the track in 2018. But once again a home country slider is in his way. Yun Sung-bin of South Korea has five World Cup wins in eight events this season, to Dukurs’s two.
For the women, the clear favorite is Jacqueline Lolling of Germany.