Concerned that the Winter Olympics have started to become a bit stuffy, the International Olympic Committee decided to up the "cool factor" in the Games for 2014 and added 12 events, eight of which are crowd-pleasers at the X Games. Indeed, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, promise to soar to new heights and be a more rollicking, youthful, and hip event.
The new events are ski halfpipe (men and women), ski slopestyle (men and women), snowboard slopestyle (men and women), snowboard parallel slalom (men and women), women’s ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, luge team relay, and figure skating team event. With the addition of the new events, the Games will feature 15 sports and 98 medal events. The Games will also run a day longer than previous competitions.
According to the Olympic Program Commission, a sport or discipline must meet the following criteria in order to be added to the Olympics program:
Athletes perform acrobatic, aerial twists, turns, and grabs high above the rim of the half-pipe.
Slopestyle, set on a downhill course, combines aerial tricks and stunts performed on boxes and rails. Riders are not timed; instead they are scored for the difficulty and style of their tricks.
Two snowboarders race side by side down parallel courses laid out exactly the same and turn through gates.
After years of barring women ski jumpers from the Winter Games, the International Olympic Committee announced in April 2011 that women would finally be allowed to compete, beginning in 2014 in Sochi. Women will vie for medals in the individual normal hill event. They are still denied the chance to participate in the large-hill and team events. With the inclusion of women's ski jumping, Nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing) remains the only event that lacks female competitors.
Each biathlon mixed relay team will consist of two women and two men. Men will race 7.5 km and women 6 km. Each athlete will shoot at targets from the standing and prone position. Each athlete is allowed three extra bullets. The extra bullets must be hand-loaded one at a time. The team member finishing his or her leg must touch hands with the next racer in the handover zone.
In the luge team relay, each participating country will enter a women's single sled, a men's single sled, and a men's double sled. When racers reach the end of the course, an athlete will hit a touchpad, which will open the starting gate for the next leg. The doubles sled will be the last leg of the race. A racer from the doubles sled will hit the touchpad at the end of the run, recording the total run time of the relay.
This competition will begin before the Opening Ceremony. Ten countries will field a male and female single skater, a pairs team, and an ice dancing team. The singles and pairs will perform a free program and the ice dancing teams will do both a short and free dance program.