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Elite athletes discuss slalom snowboarding and its inclusion as one of the new sports in the Winter Games.
More flying, more spinning and more speeding. And an extra day of competition, too. When the 2014 Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 6 it will be the largest version of the Winter Games to date.
Twelve new events across eight disiplines will debut in Sochi: the ski halfpipe (men's and women's), ski slopestyle (men's and women's), snowboard slopestyle (men's and women's), snowboard parallel slalom, women's ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, a new figure skating team event and luge team relay. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) added the events to provide a newer, fresher and youthful flare to the games, including many X-Games equivalent events for 2014.
Here's a breakdown of each event:
Ski Halfpipe – Men and Women
It's a halfpipe event on skis. Picture Shaun White doing flips, jumps, twists and turns on a snowboard; now picture him doing the same maneuvers on skis. Competitors go one at a time on two separate runs in the preliminaries in order to qualify for two final runs as the field is narrowed down to 12 skiers. Judges score on take off, height they reach above half-pipe, landing and difficulty of trick. Winners are ranked based on highest score taken out of the two final runs.
Ski Slopestyle – Men and Women
In slopestyle, skiers perform tricks as they move through a downhill course with features such as rails, boxes, bumps and big jumps. The features are designed in a way that athletes can select their own line through the course. After each run, five judges give each athlete a score based on an overall impression of the run, which includes the sequences of tricks, the amount of risk in the routine, and how the rider uses the course. The judges also take falls, mistakes and stops into consideration. The Olympic slopestyle format consists of a qualification round and a final round. In the qualification round, 30 men and 24 women ski two runs and are ranked according to their best single run score. The top 12 skiers for both men and women advance to the final.
Snowboard Slopestyle – Men and Women
Snowboard slopestyle is exactly like freeski slopestyle, but on a snowboard, and is competed on the same course. The tricks however, do differ between the two sports, with snowboard slopestyle being known for the triple corks that contestants attempt.
Snowboard Parallel Slalom
In the parallel slalom event, two snowboarders race side-by-side down identical courses. There are no judges scoring. First one down wins.
Women's Ski Jumping
No group lobbied harder for inclusion in the 2014 Olympics than women's ski jumpers. They were granted their request, and will compete on the same hill as the men's event. Each competitor gets two runs on the hill in the first and final rounds, and are scored based on distance and style. The athlete with the highest combined score from all four jumps is the winner.
Biathlon Mixed Relay
Already widely popular in Europe, the mixed ski relay event is designed for the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to pay equal attention to both genders. There are two males and two females per team. Female athletes start the relay, each performing two six-kilometer kegs. The two male athletes follow by racing two 7.5-kilometer kegs. Each athlete shoots twice (one prone, one standing) and a 150 km penalty loop is added on for each miss. The team with the lowest combined time will be the winner.
Figure Skating Team Event
Teams of six skaters from each country perform under four separate categories: men's, women's, pairs and dance. There will be two skaters each for pairs and dance, and one male and one female skater for individual runs. The team with the highest aggregated score will be the winner. The event will be spread out over the course of three days.
Luge Team Relay
The new race format comprises three teams: a doubles sled, a woman's single sled and a men's single sled. Each sled slides one after the other as teams compete for the fastest combined time. A touch pad at the finish line must be activated by a teammate to open the gate for the next sled in line. Team USA will rep the event with sleek new, patriotic uniforms