January 13th, 2014

12 New Medal Events to Debut at 2014 Winter Olympics

12 New Medal Events to Debut at 2014 Winter Olympics

Before the games kick off on February 6th, read up on the bevy of sports making their debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

We’re less than a month away from the Opening Ceremony of what will be the largest Winter Olympics in history. Twelve new medal events, many borrowed from the increasingly popular X Games, make their debut this year, in what some say is an effort to appeal to a younger audience of sports fans, while also increasing gender equality in the games. Women’s ski jumping, snowboard slopestyle, and a new luge relay all made the cut. Those event names don’t ring a bell? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the new sports making their entrance at the Sochi Olympic Games.

Freeskiing Halfpipe (Men’s & Women’s Events)

While the snowboarding halfpipe has been an Olympic event since 1998, freeskiing in the same arena is only just now entering the international competition. Picture Shaun White-style flips, turns, and twists, on skis instead of snowboards, and all judged on height, execution, and degree of difficulty.

Biathlon Mixed Relay:

Combining the endurance of cross-country skiing with the precision and skill of marksmanship, the biathlon mixed relay is one to watch. Two women per team ski 6 kilometer legs followed by two men skiing 7.5 kilometers with each athlete firing shots to complete the event.

Women's Ski Jumping:

For the first time in modern history, women will compete in all the same winter sports as men. The final holdout? Ski Jumping. For 90 years, the slopes were male dominated, and no group fought harder for their Sochi status than women ski jumpers. Tune in February 11 to see the Olympic competitors’ first flight.

Snowboard Slopestyle (Men’s & Women’s Events: 

In both the men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle events, athletes race down the mountain performing tricks like corked spins, flips, and grabs while racking up impression scores from the judges. The Olympic course in Rosa Khutor starts with more simple rails and jibs, then later features three large jumps, building momentum so competitors perform their biggest and most difficult tricks at the end.

Freeskiing Slopestyle (Men and Women):

Very similar to the snowboard event of the same name, freeskiing slopestyle is a test of both skill and speed. Athletes race downhill while racking up points for a variety of jumps, tricks, and spins. Already a popular X Games event, expect this one to draw a major crowd.

Snowboard Parallel Special Slalom (Men and Women):

In this head-to-head, slopestyle event, athletes race down parallel tracks with identical twists, turns, and obstacles. The first competitor to make it to the bottom—without crashing!—takes home the gold.

Luge Team Relay

Another co-ed event, the luge team relay consists of two individual lugers (one male, one female), each racing down the course, followed by a doubles team. All three sleds begin at the top of the course and race in succession—as one leg finishes, athletes slap a sensor pad triggering their teammate’s gate to open. The team with the fastest three-leg total brings home the medal.

Figure Skating Team Event

Fans of figure skating have one more reason to cheer during the Sochi games thanks to the addition of a team event. Groups of six skaters: one male individual, one female individual, one skating pair and one ice dance couple, compete for points in their signature events (similar to the gymnastics team event in the Summer Olympics). The team with the highest number of aggregate points wins.  Which new events are you most excited to watch? Set your DVR, and then let us know in the comments!

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by Caroline Hallemann

Caroline Hallemann is a freelance journalist currently living in New York’s East Village. Follow her on Twitter, @challemann.