The Winter Olympic program has never been a static thing. Many events have come and gone since the first Winter Games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. At least one sport, curling, has even come, then gone, then come back onto the Olympic roster.
It was the introduction of snowboarding, though, during the 1998 Nagano Olympics that really launched current round of growth in the Winter Olympic program. Ten new events were added to the 2002 Salt Lake City program, eight new events debuted in the 2006 Turin Olympics, and one (ski cross) in Vancouver in 2010.
And while most these additions had little to do with snowboarding, in many cases they reflected the same tendency to appeal to a younger, more action-oriented audience than in Olympics past. New events like team pursuit speed skating, ski cross and sprint distances in otherwise yawn-worthy cross country skiing—to many TV viewers, anyway—were an attempt to inject old sports with new energy.
But even compared with the recent past, 2014 in Sochi is going to be a bumper year for medals. A total of 98 events will be contested—the most of any Winter Olympics in history—and 12 of those are new to the program.
Out of those 12, four new events are in snowboarding and four are ski events—including slopestyle and halfpipe—originally popularized for snowboard. This is no accident.
“Such events provide great entertainment for the spectators and add further youthful appeal to our already action-packed lineup of Olympic winter sports,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge when announcing the new events’ inclusion in July 2011.
In short, the IOC took a look at the popularity of the Winter X Games and took the hint.