The last time brand new sports were added to the Olympic program was in 1998 at Nagano when the Canadian favourites of curling and snowboarding were included.
These two sports played a major part in boosting Canada’s medal tally in the Winter Games, with Canadians winning women’s gold and men’s silver in curling and Whistlerite Ross Rebagliatti championing the first gold in snowboarding’s giant slalom event.
While no new sports are being added to the official Sochi 2014 program, 12 new events within 8 sports disciplines will be added to these Games bringing the total number of competition sport events to 98 – up from 86 in Vancouver.
In other words, that means there will be 12 more gold medals up for grabs. This includes four new events in snowboarding and another four events in skiing such as halfpipe and slopestyle.
For Canada, this comes as welcome news for our relative positioning on the medal table as Canadians are already a powerhouse in freestyle skiing and snowboarding and are expected to be strong medal contenders for the new additional events being introduced under these two disciplines.
These are Winter X Games sports that Canadians already excel in and have been included by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep the Olympic Winter Games hip and relevant to appeal to younger generations.
In addition to the new fast-paced events, other notable additions include the introduction of women’s ski jumping, albeit only for the normal hill, and a new mixed-team event in figure skating to mirror the Summer Games’ gymnastics team competition.
The IOC undergoes systematic reviews of the continued inclusion of each sport and the possibility of introducing new sports and events after the conclusion of every Games to ensure the Olympic Movement follows the latest trends and changes in the world of sport.
This included the exclusion of baseball and softball after Beijing 2008 and the near-exclusion of wrestling beginning at Tokyo 2020 to make room for new ‘universally popular’ sports such as golf and ruby beginning at Rio de Janeiro 2016. No new sports and events can be added without the removal of elements of the existing Olympic Programme as a measure to control the growth of the organization required for each Games.
No new sports have been added to the Winter Olympics since Nagano 1998. However, new events have been regularly added to each subsequent Games ever since including ten new events debuting at Salt Lake 2002, eight new events added to Torino 2006, and the introduction of one new event (ski cross) during Vancouver 2010.
Sochi 2014’s twelve new events is the largest addition to the Winter Olympic program in decades and will bring the Games’ field of competition to a new record size. See below for the IOC’s explanation of the 12 new sports events:
1+2. Freestyle Skiing: Halfpipe – Men’s and Women’s
Each athlete will perform an array of big airs and other tricks in the halfpipe before being judged on technical execution, amplitude, variety, difficulty and use of pipe.
3+4. Freestyle Skiing: Slopestyle – Men’s and Women’s
Skiers combine airs and tricks on a 565m course featuring rails and a variety of jumps before being scored on execution, style, difficulty, variety and progression.
5+6. Snowboarding: Slopestyle – Men’s and Women’s
Athletes will be scored after descending a 655m course consisting of rails and a variety of jumps, as they combine big airs and technical tricks into one run.
7+8. Snowboarding: Parallel Slalom – Men’s and Women’s
Riders will race two at a time down the same slope on two parallel courses, outlined with gates and triangular flags.
9. Women’s ski jumping – Women’s
The women’s normal hill event will mark the first time that women will compete in ski jumping at the Winter Games.
10. Figure Skating Team Event – Mixed
Featuring teams made up of six skaters – one male, one female, one pair and one ice dance couple. Points will be awarded for each routine and the team with the highest number of aggregate points will win gold.
11. Biathlon: Mixed Team Relay
Teams will comprise of two men and two women. Women will open the relay, completing the first two 6km legs. The men then complete the next two 7.5km legs.
12. Luge: Team Relay – Mixed
Each nation will field a men’s singles sled, a doubles sled and a women’s singles sled. All three will slide down the track, one after another, with the clock stopping only after the third sled has crossed the finish line.
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