One Year Out: Twelve new events debuting at 2014 Winter Olympics
Just as organizers are using the Sochi Olympics to project the face of a new Russia to the world, the IOC is doing the same for the Winter Olympics program. In an attempt to make Winter Games younger, hipper, edgier and more robust, the IOC approved the addition of 12 new Olympic events, eight of which have ties to the X Games. The additional events increase the program to 15 sports with 98 medal events -- 69 in the mountains and 29 ice events in the area's coastal cluster that will feature ice sports. These will not be your Uncle Knut's Winter Olympics. The new events include the following:
Freeskiing halfpipe (men and women)
Think of a halfpipe event on skis instead of snowboards (two routines of flips, twists and jumps) and there you have it. Each skier receives two runs in the preliminaries in order to qualify for the finals by virtue of the highest score for one run. In the finals, 12 skiers complete two runs with the highest score for one run determining the winners.
Freeskiing slopestyle (men and women)
The hybrid slopestyle event combines the liftoff skills of aerialists and skateboarders with the downhill speed of an alpine skier. Each competition is judged based on tracks executed on jumps and rails while skiing on a downhill course.
Snowboard slopestyle (Men and women)
See ski slopestyle and replace the skis with a board. The flying tomato Shaun White is an ace and X Games champion in the event.
Snowboard parallel special slalom (men and women)
This is a slopestyle event for two athletes racing side-by-side down identical parallel courses with identical obstacles. The athlete who reaches the bottom first without wrecking wins.
Biathlon mixed relay
Already popular at events in Europe, the mixed relay will include two females per team racing six-kilometer legs followed by two males racing 7.5-kilometer legs. Each athlete will fire one prone and one standing shot and must ski a penalty lap of 150 meters for each miss. The winning team will have the lowest combined time of the four legs.
Women's ski jumping
No group lobbied more vocally for Olympic inclusion than this one. The women will contest one individual event on the hill on which the men compete in the normal event. The highest combined score (distance + style points) for two jumps wins. U.S. jumper Lindsey Van -- not to be confused with Vonn -- was world champ in 2009. Teammate Sarah Hendrickson was world cup leader in 2011-12.
Figure skating team event
Judges will combine scores from performances by one entry per country from each of the four classifications: men's, ladies', pairs and dance. The competition, held over three days, will take place before the opening ceremony, extending the Games' program to 20 days. The event made its debut at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck where skaters from different nations formed joint teams.
Luge team relay
Sliders become slappers as two singles lugers (one man and one woman) and one doubles team trip touch pads to open gates for teammates after completing legs of a quirky luge relay. A team's time will be recorded after its third sled has crossed a finish line. German sliders have won gold medals at nine straight world championships dating back to 2000.