Ice Hockey - I almost didn't include it on this list, because hockey is not so much an "Olympic" sport as much as a sport that happens to be included in the Olympics. But it's at the top of this list, because it garners more interest than any other sport, it's competitive and exciting and it really gets the juices of national pride flowing.
Skeleton/Luge/Bobsled - I'll group these together because they are all sliding sports. Skeleton is my personal favorite because it seems the most crazy. Face-first at 95 miles per hour? Jeez. The tragic death of the Georgian luger at the start of the Vancouver games softened my enthusiasm for these sports, and I do think we're sort of at the limit of how fast and technical these courses can get. But I still get a thrill watching these guys go down the ice, and I have to admit that I'd love to try it some time. My only real reservation about embracing the sliding sports wholeheartedly is their lack of accessibility to the average person. In all of North America, there are exactly four places--Vancouver, Lake Placid, Calgary and Salt Lake City--where one could even try them.
Alpine Skiing - In order, I will rank the individual alpine events as: downhill, Super G, slalom, giant slalom. All of them are great to watch because of the speed and possibility of wipeout. Skiing can get a little boring watching it for more than an hour or so since the average person can't really distinguish between a good and bad run, but there is great suspense and excitement when a skier has grabbed the top time and must then wait for a flurry of rivals to come down the mountain. It's something NBC's tape-delayed, packaged coverage can't grasp.
Curling - I've watched a ton of curling in the last two weeks, and feel like I finally have a grasp of the rules and strategy. It's surprisingly fun to watch, because there's a rather delightful bit of suspense when the rock comes down the ice and team members furiously sweep. The strategy is fun to analyze, and every once in a while someone pulls of a miracle shot that adds a real dose of excitement. Too bad the Americans stink. (Shuster!)
Long Track Speedskating - There's a purity to this sport that I love. Two guys on a track, racing against each other and the clock. There's rarely any controversy (Sven Kramers DQ in the 10,000 meters not withstanding). There are no judges. It's all about who's fastest. Plus, you have to love the enthusiasm of the Dutch fans.
Cross Country Skiing/Biathlon/Nordic combined - I wish more of these sports were shown on television, because there have been some great moments of drama over the years with skiers winning races by hundredths of a second. The rivalry between Norway and Italy in the 4X10 km relay is one of the most intense in all of sports (I'm not kidding). The conditioning required to compete at the Olympic level is off the charts. And in the case of biathlon, think of the body control required to ski as fast as possible and then stop and hit the bullseye of a target.
Snowboarding Half-pipe - Ok, Shaun White is fun to watch. But I just can't get over the feeling that this sport was added to the Olympics to boost American interest and TV ratings. The involvement of judges in determining the final outcome is also bothersome.
Freestyle Moguls - While this sport does feature some cool aerial tricks, I am fascinated by the ability of these skiers to navigate the massive mounds of snow while traveling so fast. It has to be murder on the knees, and must require immense concentration. I tried skiing over some moguls once and fell within a nanosecond. I honestly don't know how they do it. This sport loses some points for relying on judges to determine the winner, but it's exciting enough that I do watch it when it's on.
Ski Jumping - I think this sport would be much better to see live. In theory, it should be cool to watch guys launch themselves off a ramp, travel the length of a football field in the air and then land gently on skis. But on television, you don't get any real sense of how high and far these guys travel, and all the jumps sort of look the same. Not to mention, I still don't really understand what a ski jumper does to make himself travel farther than another. Commentators, in general, do a poor job of explaining the basic physics of what makes one ski jumper good and another great. And I will admit that the lack of any competitive Americans probably skews my opinion on this sport.
Figure Skating - I'm not a huge fan of this sport, but I appreciate the level of physical ability required to perform at the top level. Pulling off a triple-triple combo at the end of a 4:30 program? Yeah, you need to be in shape to do that. I generally find the pairs to be more entertaining than the individual skaters (perhaps because more can go wrong.) In general, though, I can't get too enthusiastic about a sport solely reliant on judging, particularly when the scoring system is unexplainable.
Short Track - I've never been a fan of sports that come off as chaotic. And short track fits that category. The physical talents of these skaters is tremendous, and the racing can be very exciting. But it seems like every race features either a wipeout, a disqualification or both, and it seems like luck sometimes is as much a factor as skill.
Snowboard Cross/Ski Cross - Ok, they are kind of exciting, with their potential for thrills and spills. But where does one actually take up this sport? Most mountains have halfpipes, but I'm not aware of many that have long tracks allowing for side-by-side racing. Another sport added for the benefit of America and television.
Freestyle Aerials - This is a sport? It's a bit nuts, and I don't even know how one would go about becoming a freestyle aerialist. I generally downgrade any athletic competition that relies on judges to determine winners and losers. This just seems like a gimmicky sport created, again, for television ratings.
Ice Dancing- I won't question the dedication, artistry or athletic ability required to participate in this sport. But when the conversation centers around wardrobe and music as much as performance, forget it.