Learn About the New Events Debuting at the South Korea Winter Olympics
Three events are making their Olympic debut—and one, its return—in PyeongChang, bringing the total number of competitions to 102.
Mixed doubles curling
Kicking off the Games is mixed doubles curling, which gets underway ahead of the opening ceremony (competition begins Wednesday, Feb. 7, 11/10c, NBCSN). This is a shorter version of the traditional game of sliding “rocks” (aka the playing stones) down the ice, with one male and one female player per side, as opposed to the four-person units in the team events. The brother-sister duo of Matt and Becca Hamilton of McFarland, Wisconsin, will represent the U.S.
Big air snowboarding
This event is the latest example of the X Games’ influence at the Olympics. Daredevils perform tricks-filled jumps off a launch ramp approximately 160-feet high. Canada’s Max Parrot and Austria’s Anna Gasser are the favorites, but American athletes like Chris Corning and Jamie Anderson will be in the medal mix.
Alpine team skiing
Sixteen squads—two men and two women per nation—face off in a series of thrilling head-to-head slalom races. Team USA would get a considerable boost if Mikaela Shiffrin participates, but by the time the competition rolls around on the final weekend of the Games, she may need a rest. “At that point, she [may] have skied in five disciplines,” says NBC analyst Steve Porino. “If she’s exhausted, [her coaches] may be worried about her safety.” Sweden, France, Germany and Austria should be the top medal contenders.
Speed skating mass start
Unlike most long track races, which are run in distinct lanes, the 16-lap, almost four-mile race—held once before, in 1932—features a pack of athletes. “The mass start is like NASCAR on ice,” says American KC Boutiette, whose teamwork helped Joey Mantia of Ocala, Florida, win the world championships last year. “You’ve got 24 guys ripping around tight turns. There’s crashes, there’s strategic maneuvers and everyone’s trying to position themselves.”