Anyone who follows the Olympics has probably noticed over the years that the Winter Olympics have fewer sports than the Summer Olympics. While the Summer games have 300 events – and regardless of what you choose to watch you are probably missing seven other great race, games and matches – the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will have only 102 events.
Four of those events are new to the Winter Games: speed skating mass start, curling mixed doubles, snowboard big air and the Alpine skiing team event.
Long track speed skating mass start
Some speed skaters have described mass start speed skating as NASCAR on ice. Long track speed skating mass start features up to 24 skaters who line up and start together, unlike the traditional time trial format, where two skaters race against the clock. The mass start racers compete over 16 laps, and the fastest three who cross the finish line first are those who medal. Though there is also a twist, racers have four sprints included throughout the race, and the top three finishers in those sprints are awarded points. While the first three to finish win the medals, the point system helps determine the standings for the rest of the pack.
It was first introduced at the World Cup during the 2011-12 season and was included at the Olympic games for youth in recent years. It’s also not the first time the mass start will be featured at the Olympics, it debuted at the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, but has not been featured in the Games since.
Snowboard big air
Get ready for some big air and big time tricks. Competitors in the snowboard big air ride down a steep ramp then they launch off and perform tricks while gaining as much height and distance before having to stick a clean landing. The ramp can be as tall as 49 meters, while the angle of the slope is 40 degrees.
While they are in the air, snowboarders will perform tricks such as backside 1440, frontside 1080, and corks in the air.
Snowboarders have three attempts and six judges award their marks based on difficulty, style, height and their landing.
Alpine skiing team event
The Alpine skiing team event is a great addition to the Winter Olympics. It features mixed national teams of male and female athletes working together in a knockout competition. The best-of-four contest will feature two male and two female skiers from each national team, in pairings, racing on a parallel slalom. First a female from each team faces off, next males, then the second female and the second male. If there is a tie – each team winning two races – the team with the fastest combined time of their top male and top female skier wins.
It will begin with 16 teams, and is seeded like the NCAA Tournament. The No. 1 team against No. 16, No. 2 against No.15 and so on.
The two teams left standing will compete for gold and silver, the third and fourth ranked teams will compete for the bronze.
Curling mixed doubles
First of all, if you’re still confused about the rules of curling (many of us are), check out our “Six questions you may have ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics,” article where we take a look at exactly how the sport is played. This time around, the mixed doubles will be added along with the men’s and women’s events. In the mixed event, each team is composed of a male and female, but unlike traditional curling, there are only six stones instead of eight, and they play with eight ends rather than ten.
The event’s first ever World Championships were played in 2008, and the event was held at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016.
This gives previous Olympians, such as Canada’s Mark Nichols and Jennifer Jones, a chance to team up and try something new while aiming for gold.
We’re hoping to see many more mixed events at the Olympics.