How many calories do Olympic athletes burn?

(upwave.com) -- I'm a huge fan of the Olympic Games, especially the Winter Olympic Games. I love watching the figure skating, bobsled and skeleton. And the Alpine skiing events... it's hard not to be in awe watching the skiers fly down the mountainside at such high speeds.

The only thing I don't like about the Olympics is that it keeps me glued to the television for a good two weeks, because yes, I'm a junkie. And while I'm on the couch vegging out, the athletes I'm watching are burning some serious calories.

How many calories do you think Winter Olympic athletes burn? Read on to find out.

Figure skating

Figure skating is a beautiful test of balance and coordination. Team USA figure skaters Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds will take the ice for two performances during the 2014 Sochi Olympics -- each completing a two-minute, 50-second short program and a four-minute free skate.

But the three women will have put in hours and hours to perfect their programs, which contain numerous triple axels, spins, salchows and other difficult moves. On average, they will likely burn more than 500 calories an hour -- even if they spend some of their practice time simply falling down and getting back up. (Hey, it happens. They're on ice, after all.)

Downhill skiing/Super G

Downhill skiing is about having the quad and low-back strength to hold a tuck position or an edge while skiing downhill extremely fast. Lovers of the sport were disappointed when fan favorite Lindsey Vonn had to pull out of Sochi due to a serious injury to her right knee. She leaves a big hole on Team USA, as she would have been defending her Olympic gold medal in the downhill. That said, Vonn's teammates continue to train vigorously and can count on burning around 300 to 450 calories an hour.

Speed skating

When it comes to winter sports, it's hard to beat speed skating when it comes to burning calories. To be an Olympic-level athlete, you have to be strong -- and super fast -- which requires a lot of training. Athletes can expect to burn about 600 calories per hour.

Biathlon

One of the more unique Olympic sports, the biathlon is based on a Norwegian military exercise, which explains why it combines long-distance cross-country skiing with target shooting. Cross-country skiing is one of the best outdoor exercises for cold weather, and the men and women who participate burn some serious calories every time they train or compete -- 500 to 700 per hour.

Ice hockey

You can bet the players on the 2014 Olympic men and women's ice hockey teams are going to battle hard for a chance to walk away with a medal. And they'll be getting a serious workout while they fight it out on the rink, too: They'll each burn 450 to 750 calories for every hour they play. If that's not gold-medal worthy, we don't know what is!


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