The International Olympic Committee (IOC) added four new competition events into circulation for this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Big air snowboarding, alpine skiing team event, mass start speed skating and mixed doubles curling have all been ratified by the IOC executive board. In addition to these events being added, both the men’s and women’s snowboard parallel slalom event was dropped from the Olympic program.
The Olympics have been trying to break from the stigma of boring old tradition in recent years and these additions come in an attempt to appeal to younger viewers.
Big Air Snowboarding
Competitors attempt to jump off a steeply pitched ramp and perform jumps with flips and spins for this event. Big air snowboarding was most recently featured in the Winter X-Games and quickly became a huge hit.
The X-Games and snowboarding have made people like Shaun White household names. Throw some international competition into the mix and you have the X-Games on steroids. I’m confident this event will become a fan favorite very soon and the IOC will come out looking like geniuses.
Alpine Skiing Team Event
The alpine skiing team event will also be making its debut in a rare head-to-head competition. In this event, teams featuring two men and two women will race in a one-on-one, best-of-four parallel slalom contest.
Teams competed in Switzerland’s 2017 Alpine Ski Championships and gave fans a taste of what to expect at this year’s Olympics. Fast, synchronized races with photo-finishes are sure to become a quick fan favorite.
Mixed Doubles Team Curling
While curling has been in the Olympics since 1998, mixed doubles will now join the rotation. Teams will feature one man and one woman and they will toss six stones instead of the usual 8. For a crash course and quick synopsis on what mixed doubles is, check out World Curling TV.
Personally, curling has become my guilty pleasure when I’m on the road flipping through the channels in my hotel room. The competition is fairly slow, but the intensity is high — especially in the last few throws.
Mass Start Speed Skating
Mass start speed skating is the winter edition of a long distance track meet. It is an all out free-for-all from start to finish on the ice. Min Seok Kim of South Korea took home the gold medal at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games and gave a nice preview of what fans can expect in the next few weeks.
The 16-lap competition is second only to the 10,000m race which is 25 laps. Speed skating has also been on my must-watch list due to Apolo Anton Ohno, one of the most decorated short track speed skaters in US history.
While this is a little bit of a longer race than what many are familiar seeing Ohno race, the hype will be the same nonetheless. Oh yeah — he dances too.
Other Olympic News
These sports are just the first wave of introductions to the Olympic rotation. According to the LA Times, the IOC has reinstated baseball and softball to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo — reconciling the 12 year removal. CNN also reported karate, skateboarding, surfing and sports climbing will all be making their Olympic debuts in Japan during the 2020 games.
Colton Gordon for SUU News