X Games gold medalist Nick Goepper may grind his way to Sochi in 2014 where slopestyle skiing will pop its Winter Olympics cherry. This longtime X Games staple is known for the adrenaline-packed tricks that the skiiers must navigate over the course, which includes leaps over waist-high barriers, off-axis flips and slides over precipitous ramps. The course should have at least three different types of features such as table-top jumps and quarter pipes, according to the FIS rule book.
The 18-year-old Goepper, a Winter X Games silver medalist in 2012 who took the gold in Aspen in January, is angling for a spot at the event in its Winter Olympics debut next year.
So meaningful has the inclusion of the event been to slopestylers that many freeskiers either delayed or interrupted their retirements to try to qualify for the event in Sochi, according to X games organizer ESPN.
The women’s slopestyle event’s inclusion in the Olympics is poignant not only for its obvious boost for gender equality, but also because it was championed by freeskiing pro Sarah Burke, who died at 29 in January 2012 after a training accident in Utah.
The addition of this event could add a new medal to Shaun White’s Olympic trophy case. With two Olympic golds in half-pipe snowboarding under the figurative belt of his Gore-Tex pants, White said in January he would ditch the skateboard in 2013 to focus on his Olympic aspirations for Sochi.
The event involves similar obstacles to the skiing slopestyle event, only on a different apparatus—the snowboard.
Special Slalom snowboarding—negotiating around flags on a downhill course—is said to be trickier than its giant slalom cousin because of its tighter flag spacings. Giant slalom snowboarding is already part of the Winter Olympic Games, and was put on the map by the likes of Canadian Ross Rebagliati, the first snowboarder to win a gold medal in giant slalom at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Parallel slalom is a race between two competitors who must maneuver more closely spaced flags than on a giant slalom course, which is usually also a longer one.
This event will debut in the Winter Olympics in 2014, but the first FIS World Cup ski halfpipe already took place this weekend in Sochi, where America’s Torin Yater-Wallace emerged the victor of the men’s event on Saturday, while Switzerland's Virginie Faivre won the women’s event.
The event involves complex flips and twists through the air that have names that sound like sci-fi basketball moves (leftside 1080, alley-oop double 900, etc.). Skiiers ride the momentum of gliding across a roughly 16m wide and 120m long canal to perform the tricks.
One of the more extreme of the extreme sports, ski jumping has skiiers hurtle down a ramp at some 60 mph to build momentum before soaring off of it for the distance of a 120 yards or more.
The inclusion of this event in the Winter Olympics was a long time coming for professional female ski jumpers, who had lobbied for its addition for more than a decade before it finally made it into the list in April 2011. Female contenders were told the jumping action the event required was medically inappropriate for women, according to non-profit Women’s Ski Jumping USA, which pushed for the women’s event to be added to the Olympics.
Ski jumping was the only event—besides Nordic combined which includes cross country skiing and ski jumping—not to allow women to participate in the Winter or Summer Games, according to Women’s Ski Jumping USA.
This event—a mixture of cross-country skiing and marksmanship—has roots in winter military warfare since the Great Northern War in the early 1700s, fought in brutal winter conditions including a blizzard near the Russian border with Estonia, according to the U.S. Biathlon team website.
In the mixed relay event, there two women and two men, where the women ski 6 km and the men ski 7.5 km, shooting at the 2 and 4 km marks, according to the International Biathlon Union, the governing body of the event. The women do their segments of the race before tagging the men, according to the IBU.
This event calls for all the meticulous technique and sensual grace of one skater and multiplies it by six. Each team has one male skater, one female skater, one skating pair and one ice dance couple, according to the Winter Olympics website, which says judges hand points to each skater or couple.
The event made its debut last year at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. The USA team took the Gold in the in Tokyo in the 2009 International Skating Union World Team Trophy, on which the team figure skating event is based, according to Figure Skaters Online.
In this mixed-gender event, each team comprises women’s and men’s singles sleds and a doubles sled, according to the U.S. Luge Association.
All the sleds begin at the same starting point but will follow each other in sequence — with the gates opening up for each sled after the previous sledder in the team hits the finish line.
"Many team events involve adding one individual score to another while others, like the 4 X 100 meter track race, involve a continuous event with a transition from one competitor to another," USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi said in an April 2011 statement announcing the event’s inclusion. "Luge’s team event will be the latter, involving touch pads, reaction time and the opening of a gate to arrive at one cumulative time.”
The IOC rejected this event despite a hard push by FIS, which is still holding out hope that the event will make it into the 2018 lineup.
"It is disappointing that the alpine nations team event will have to wait until 2018 for its debut, since it has proven to be a true highlight at our FIS World Championships," said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper in a 2011 response to the event’s rejection at Sochi.
The alpine nations team event last took place at the 2013 World Championships in Austria, in a mixed gender elimination tournament format. Each round was a best of four on a parallel slalom course, with two women and two men from each team racing against each other.
Popular in Alpine countries, this sport is basically hockey on a soccer field-sized ice rink of up to 110 m x 65 m, according to the rules of the sport by the Federation of International Bandy. In this winter sport though, each teams 11 players use a ball instead of a puck. Each team also has a goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, this one didn't quite make the cut for 2014 either.