Get ready to watch Olympic monobob and big air skiing in Beijing.
Those events were among seven announced as additions to the 2022 Olympic program following an International Olympic Committee Executive Board meeting on Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Monobob will be a women’s event, while both genders will compete in big air. The other additions are mixed team events in aerials skiing, ski jumping, short track speedskating and snowboardcross.
In addition, the women’s ice hockey tournament will add two teams and mixed doubles curling will add two teams. Meanwhile, biathlon, luge, skating and skiing will each lose athlete quotas, while 12 men’s bobsled quotas will be transferred to the new women’s monobob competition.
The changes were made with “a real focus on the innovation and youth aspect,” as well as the goal of improving gender balance, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell said.
In Beijing, women will make up 45.44 percent of athletes, which is up from 41 percent in PyeongChang. Beijing will also represent the highest number of women at an Olympic Winter Games and the highest number of events.
“We want to move toward gender balance and eventually gender equality,” McConnell said. “We feel with Beijing we’re getting closer to that.”
The changes were also made within the goal of maintaining total athlete counts as outlined in the Olympic Charter and goals set in Olympic Agenda 2020 to reduce the overall size of the games. The 2,892 athletes expected to take part in the 2022 Games is 41 fewer than participated in 2018 in PyeongChang. No new venues will be needed to host the new events.
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The Beijing 2022 program continues several trends from other recent changes to Olympic programs.
McConnell noted that monobob and big air skiing are events that could appeal to younger audiences. Since halfpipe snowboarding was added to the Olympic program in 1998, similar events have been added in halfpipe skiing as well as slopestyle skiing and snowboarding, both in 2014. Big air snowboarding debuted at the 2018 Winter Games, consisting of athletes who had also qualified in slopestyle.
The discipline for snowboarding dates back to the mid-1990s and has been part of the FIS circuit since 2001-02, with skiing events being contested later. In PyeongChang, athletes had three attempts to perform a trick off a massive jump, with the lowest score being dropped.
Monobob, in which one athlete takes part, joins the Olympic program following a successful run at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. It is one of several events to make the jump from Youth to full Olympic Games since the Youth Olympic Games began in 2010.
McConnell said women’s monobob was added in favor of a four-woman event — to match the existing four-man event — due to its successful debut at the Youth Olympic Games and its easier access, noting that a four-person bobsled can cost 3-4 times more than a monobob.
Mixed team events, in which both men and women compete together, have long been a staple of Youth Olympic Games as well, and they’re becoming more popular on the full Games program as well. Such events were introduced at the 2018 Winter Games in alpine skiing and curling, with 2014 additions in biathlon and luge.
The mixed short track event will be a relay, similar to the existing men's and women's relays.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.