The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will be the 22nd winter games since the tradition first began in 1924. For the most part, the list of events that athletes participate in has remained largely unchanged. In 1992, a few new sports, like Snowboarding and Short Track Speedskating were added to the games, making things a little more modern. A lot of the traditional sports have always been dominated by the European powers, the new sports give other countries, like Australia, a chance to find their niche, as well as attract more viewers to the games. This year, the Winter Olympics are being updated even more, and 12 new events are being added to the lineup. There will be 3 mixed events, 4 men’s events and 5 women’s events added, and many of the sports are ones that have been taken from the Winter X Games. The new events/sports are all pretty exciting, and not things a lot of viewers have been exposed to, so they will definitely be something to look out for if you are growing tired of plain-old downhill skiing. So if you will be watching the Sochi Olympics, keep an eye out for these new events:
1. Biathlon Mixed Relay
I’m not exactly sure what two elements I thought a Winter Olympics biathlon would consist of, but the answer is not what I expected. The two components of each leg of the relay (there are 4 – 2 men, and 2 women) are skiing and shooting. Skiing I get, but shooting? It actually seems like it might be pretty cool. Each team member has to ski around a track, and then complete 2 “bouts” of shooting, one standing and one laying down. If they don’t hit 5 targets each time, they have to do some extra skiing. This could get intense.
2. Mixed Figure Skating Team Event
If the highlight of the winter Olympics for you is the figure skating, then you’re in luck with this one, because it features a whole lot of skating. Each country will field a team of 6, a figure skating pair, and ice dancing pair, and a male and a female. The teams will compete over 3 days, and their scores will be added together. The team with the highest aggregate score will win the gold.
3. Luge Team Relay – Mixed
Luge is definitely one of the more dangerous Winter Olympic sports, but is still fun to watch, even though it is basically just people sledding really fast down an ice tube. Luge itself isn’t new to the games, but in this new luge event, 3 sleds from each country will participate in a relay, duh, and slide down the track one after another, with the clock stopping when the third sled crosses the finish line.
4. Ski Halfpipe (Men’s and Women’s)
This is one of the X-Games type events that winter sports purists don’t really care for, but is popular with the people, especially younger people, and is way more exciting to watch than downhill skiing, or curling. Especially curling. Basically, this event is exactly what it seems. Skiers will take to the frozen halfpipe, where they will try catch some big air and perform some exciting tricks. While being showy is a big part of it, it is still the Olympics, so they will have to make sure their technical execution of the tricks is extremely precise.
5. Ski Slopestyle (Men’s and Women’s)
For the slopestyle events, the athletes will be skiing down a course that features a series of rails, jumps and obstacles. It is almost like someone dismantled a skate park and placed all of the pieces on a snow covered mountain. The competitors will be judged on their technique and style, as well on how risky they are with their tricks. The Olympics is not the time for playing it safe.
6. Snowboard Slopestyle (Men’s and Women’s)
This is basically the same as skiing slopestyle, but with snowboards, obviously. And also the track is longer.
7. Snowboard Parallel Slalom (Men’s and Women’s)
I know absolutely zero about skiing, but the slalom events have always been the coolest to watch. Snowboarders have had a slalom event in the Games since 1998, but now, 2 boarders will be going head to head. This even seems awesome, because unlike many of the ski/snowboard events that are just timed or judged, this one is an actual head-to-head race.
8. Women’s Ski Jumping
I think ski jumping is one of the things you can do to most closely resemble the act of flying. When the skiiers launch themselves off a 756 meter hill/ramp, they are totally airborne, and look like birds flying through the sky. They really do, I’m not just being dramatic.
If you want to check out some of these new Olympic sports in action, head over to the Olympics’ YouTube page. Also, if you won’t have access to a TV once the games get underway, but still want to watch, check out this article for some tips on how to watch the Olympics online.
Which new Olympic events are you excited for?
Featured Photo by Todd Korol/Getty Images