The Sochi Olympics will be the biggest Olympics ever with the addition of 12 new events approved by the International Olympic Committee for this year. The 12 new events promise a combination of fresh, new athletes, excitement and fascination. The events have been added to the Olympics for their popularity at other venues as well as for a desire by the Olympic Committee to attract a wider audience, particularly younger viewers.
The new events for the 2014 Sochi Olympics are:
- Biathlon mixed relay
- Luge team relay
- Figure skating team event
- Women’s ski jumping
- Snowboard slopestyle (men’s and women’s)
- Snowboard parallel special slalom (men’s and women’s)
- Freeskiing halfpipe (men’s and women’s)
- Freeskiing slopestyle (men’s and women’s)
Biathlon mixed relay is a ski racing and shooting event. Two females from each team race 6 kilometer (3.7 miles) legs. Two males then race 7.5 kilometer (4.7 miles) legs. Each athlete will fire two shots–one prone and one standing. For every miss, the skier must ski a penalty lap of 150 meters (0.93 miles).
The luge team relay is composed of teams of 4 athletes. A man or woman begins the luge, slapping a paddle at the finish line. The paddle releases the next luger back up at the top of the luge. The third phase of the luge team relay is a two-person team luge.
The figure skating team event will be a three-day event in which winners we be judged based on a combined score from 4 events: men’s, ladies’, pairs and dance.
Women’s ski jumping, an event that has been lobbied for inclusion over the years, has been admitted to the Sochi Games. Scores for the women’s ski jump will be based on a combined score of two jumps in which points will be awarded for distance and style.
Two snowboard events have been added: slopestyle and parallel special slalom. Snowboard slopestyle is the same format as the skiing slopestyle, only with snowboards. Parallel special slalom is an event where two snowboarders race side by side down a slope around flags towards a finish line.
The two new skiing events are halfpipe and freeskiing slopestyle. Halfpipe is the same as snowboard halfpipe, only with skis. Freeskiing slopestyle is an event where skiers are judged based on the tricks they can accomplish on jumps and rails while completing a downhill course.
Sochi Olympics New Events
Eight of the new events have ties to the X Games, a sports event developed by ESPN network in the U.S. beginning in 1995. The X Games are a venue for younger sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, motorcycling, BMX bicycling, surfing, and snowmobiling.
The addition of the 12 new events at the Sochi Olympics will not increase the number of sports or disciplines featured at the Olympics. The Games will still feature 7 sports divided into 15 disciplines. The 15 disciplines, however, will now be broken down into 98 events–69 in Sochi’s mountains and 29 on the ice–instead of 88 as in previous years.
The 7 sports are as follows: skiing, skating, bobsleigh, biathlon, luge, curling, and ice hockey. Biathlon, ice hockey, luge, and curling are not further divided. Skiing is broken down into alpine, cross-country, Nordic combined, ski jumping, freestyle, and snowboarding. Skating is divided into figure skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. The two bobsleigh disciplines are bobsleigh and skeleton.
The new events at the Sochi Olympics were accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2011 after their respective sports federations submitted to the Games for consideration. The IOC rejected several applications, including team apline skiing and bandy. The IOC also reveiwed several sports and decided not to include them. They may be included in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, however. These sports include ski mountaineering, ski-orienteering, and winter triathlon.
The Sochi Olympics will have athletes from 88 nations. For seven of these nations, the Sochi Olympics will be their first Winter Games. Dominica, Paraguay, Togo, Malta, Timor Leste, Zimbabwe and Tonga will debut at the Winter Games this February. Several countries chose not to send athletes, even after they qualified, including Kristina Krone (skier) of Puerto Rico, Sive Speelman (skier) of South Africa, and Medhi-Selim Khelifi (skier) of Algeria.
Russia will send 225 athletes to their Games, five less than the U.S., who are sending the largest delegation to the Sochi Olympics that has ever been sent by any country to the Winter Games. Canada is sending 222 athletes. Great Britain is sending 62 and Australia is sending 61.
Of America’s 130 athletes, 106 are returning and 49 have won medals previously (13 golds). The U.S. states that are sending the most athletes to Sochi are California (20), Minnisota (19), Colorado (19), and New York (18). Many of the new events at the Sochi Olympics are said to be events in which Americans and especially Canadians have strong chances to dominate, based on the experience and performance of those nations in the X Games and other precedent venues for the events.
By Day Blakely Donaldson