Being added to the Olympic sports roster is no easy feat. The IOC has numerous evaluation factors, including: how long the sport has existed, how popular it is in the host country, and scheduling and venue considerations, among other criteria. Any new contender must also be governed by an international sports federation and comply with both the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code. Host cities can also have a say at the table; for example, Paris has convinced the IOC to add breakdancing to the Summer Olympics in 2024.
Who are the Lucky Ones in Beijing?
Seven new Olympic sports will have top athletes competing for gold medals for the first time ever in Beijing:
- Bobsled: Women’s monobob
- Freestyle skiing: Mixed team aerials
- Freestyle skiing: Men’s big air
- Freestyle skiing: Women’s big air
- Short-track speedskating: Mixed team relay
- Ski jumping: Mixed team event
- Snowboarding: Mixed team snowboard cross
Mixed-gender events make up 4 of the 7 new events. Men and women will work together for a common goal. I like it.
We’re Big on the “Bob”
Monobob (mono=1, bob=sled), for women only, is appearing for the first time ever in this wild sport.
All sleds will be produced by the same manufacturer, levelling the playing field to a certain degree. One woman will do all the work: push a sled weighing at least 162 kg (357 lbs.), leap and drive. Women are used to taking on more than their share of responsibility, so mono isn’t all that crazy -- conceptually. Interestingly, our species’ larger counterparts (men) will only be racing in 2 and 4-person bobsleds; although they have the power and muscle, they won’t go at it mono.
“The way monobob is set up, you have standardized sleds. So it all comes down to you as an athlete and a driver and it gives you a true test. Winning isn’t down to souped-up equipment. We all have the same runners. We can see who is the top of the top … A huge plus of mono is that you are your own person. If you mess up, it is completely on you.” (Cynthia Appiah, 31 year old Canadian bobsledder from Toronto, Canada)
“There’s a steep learning curve. They (mono sleds) can skid out, they just don’t have the weight, the speed. They don’t glue to the curb the way a 2-man does. They’re a ton more skittish.” (Meyers Taylor, 37 year old American bobsledder from Oceanside, CA)
All eyes will be on Kaillie Humphries, a Canadian who gave up the maple leaf to become an American citizen and member of Team USA after filing a coaching harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada and eventually having to sue them. She is married to American bobsledder Travis Armbruster
The Other Non-Mixed Newcomer
Freestyle skiing big air jumping events for men and women will also be very exciting to watch for the first time at any Winter Olympics, though the sport has already gained tremendous popularity at extreme sports events.
If you’re wondering what a “nosebutter double cork 1800” freeski big air move is … this is definitely an event you’ll want to check out.
Essentially, athletes ski down a long, upwardly curved ramp, then catapult themselves into the air, where they complete gravity-defying tricks before touching down. Points are awarded for precise control (including a well-executed landing) and personal style (number of rotations, flips and grabs completed while in the air).
Here’s some thrilling footage from the Big Air World Cup that was held in Chur, Switzerland, in October:
America will send 8 Big Air athletes to Beijing, 4 men and 4 women. Perhaps I’m just nostalgic, but I’ll be paying attention to veteran Nick Goepper, a whopping 27 year old in this young man’s sport from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Goepper has serious experience and a career filled with amazing results. Earning a medal the first time his Big Air craft is recognized at the Winter Olympics would cement Goepper’s well-deserved place in American history. Thrill-seeking teenage and young adult competitors still have time to make their mark.
Formerly the site of a steel mill, Big Air competitions will take place at the newly constructed Shougang venue from February 7-9.
Ramp Up with This Freeski Film
While you await the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday, put some time aside to watch this newly released freeski film. It’ll blow your mind, as will these new Olympic events next week and it is aptly “free”.
Now challenge yourself and your friends to our New Winter Olympic Sports Quiz of the Day, by downloading Quizefy from the app store if you haven’t already done so, then see how much you know and Strut Your Smart. Our New Winter Olympic Sports Quiz is only available today, then it disappears. We’ll be back again every Tuesday with a special blog posted at www.quizefy.com, along with a new trivia quiz on the same topic as the blog. Don’t forget to follow Quizefy on social media, so we can remind you of the upcoming blog and quiz content.