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Olympics Preview: New Sports

Olympic Sports

February 03, 2022
SEAN M. HAFFEY/GETTY IMAGES
SEAN M. HAFFEY/GETTY IMAGES

⛷️ Men’s and women’s big air freestyle: Snowboard big air was introduced at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, and now big air freeskiers will join the Olympic party. Already a popular Winter X Games event, the discipline involves a skier taking off from a kicker (a specially constructed snow ramp), performing aerial tricks and hopefully sticking the landing.

  • Big air freestyle is a judged sport, and after three qualification runs, the final 12 athletes will execute three different jumps, with the best two counting toward their final score.

🛷 Women’s monobob: Unlike two- and four-person bobsled, one athlete, as the name suggests, does it all — pushes, leaps and drives — in monobob. A fun fact: all monobob athletes race in identical sleds, leveling the technological playing field.

  • A not so fun fact: monobob falls under the bobsled discipline, and while the men have competed in at least two bobsled events since 1932, this is the first year there are two bobsled events for women. About time.

🏂 Mixed team snowboard cross: In snowboard cross, athletes race down a narrow course peppered with sharp turns, jumps and drops. In the new mixed team event (one man, one woman), the men race first. When they cross the finish line, the gate immediately opens for their teammate to begin, creating a staggered start for the women. The ultimate relay race.

⛷️ Mixed team freestyle skiing aerials: Aerial skiing is similar to big air in that athletes take off from a kicker and perform, well, aerial tricks. But aerial jumps have more of a gymnastics quality to them. Some Simone Biles flair, if you will.

  • In the new mixed team event, the scores of three skiers (at least one man and one woman) are combined for a team score.
  • This is unique because most mixed team events have equal numbers of men and women. And before anyone assumes having two men is advantageous, Australia won two medals at the World Cup with two women on their team. Oi, oi, oi!

💨 Mixed team short track relay: Three’s a party — joining the men’s 5,000m and women’s 3,000m speedskating relays, the mixed team is the third Olympic short track relay. The order goes: two women then two men for 2.5 laps each; then the women and men alternate for another two laps each. If someone falls, a teammate of the same gender can finish the leg for them.

⛷️ Mixed team ski jumping: Men have competed in ski jumping since 1924…and women since 2014, but now a mixed team event will make its debut in Beijing. Four athletes jump — the order goes woman, man, woman, man — and each jump is combined to get the team score. Quiet confidence.