Winter Olympics 2014: Grading the 12 New Events in Sochi
The Olympic experience is constantly evolving, and the Sochi Games included a dozen additions. The new events opened the door for first-time Olympians and set the stage for fresh, thrilling competitions.
From slopestyle action to team relays, the athletic horizon expanded in Sochi. Here, we'll hand out grades for each inaugural event based on intrigue and competitive balance.
Each addition appears to provide a uniquely positive presence on the Olympic stage and should become a mainstay in the future.
Luge Team Relay
Germany won the relay to continue its luge dominance in Sochi. Felix Loch, Natalie Geisenberger, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt starred on the way to a gold medal.
Russia finished second, while Latvia edged out Canada for bronze.
Canada's accusation that Russia tampered with the luge team relay track throws credibility questions into the mix. Still, the event was exciting (and controversial) enough to command a long-term spot on the Olympic slate.
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle
American Sage Kotsenburg surged to Olympic stardom by sticking a trick called the "Back 16 Japan." He earned the U.S. a gold that many thought would come courtesy of Shaun White.
The X Games icon backed out of the event, though, citing concerns about the course. His absence certainly delivered a blow to the excitement surrounding slopestyle snowboarding in Sochi.
Norwegian Staale Sandbech pulled off an impressive run to edge out Canadian Mark McMorris for silver. The action was apparent, but so was White's disappearing act.
Biathlon Mixed Relay
This event proved to be historic for a variety of reasons. Aside from the fact it was an Olympic newcomer, the mixed relay featured the ascension of a new all-time Winter Games winner.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen helped lead Norway to another biathlon gold, earning his 13th career Olympic medal in the process. That mark sets a new record for the 40-year-old icon.
Norway's dominance in the concentration extended into this inaugural race. Czech skiers finished more than 30 seconds behind to claim silver, while Italy followed in third place.
In the Olympic biathlon action, the rest of the globe has ground to make up when it comes to chasing Norway.
Men's Ski Slopestyle
The United States was among a cluster of countries that pushed for Olympic expansion in skiing, and Americans dominated during slopestyle skiing's first Winter Games appearance.
Joss Christensen claimed gold. U.S. teammates Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper followed with silver and bronze, respectively.
The action was excellent, with Norwegian X Games star Andreas Haatveit challenging to crash the Americans' party on the podium. For competition's sake, the event may have benefited from a multinational podium, but don't expect the U.S. trio to apologize.
Team Figure Skating
Russia reasserted its Olympic reign in the figure skating spectrum with a gold in the debut of team competition. It was the first gold medal of these Games for the host country.
It provided a moment for national pride in Sochi, as Team Russia rebounded from a disappointing 2010 Vancouver Games performance in figure skating to earn the medal.
Canada followed behind in second place, while Americans Charlie White and Meryl Davis shined in ice dancing, and the U.S. earned bronze.
This team event is a welcome addition to the circuit for arguably the Winter Olympics' premier spectacle.
Men's Ski Halfpipe
The setting of this showdown on the slopes enhanced the dramatics, as snowflakes fell in bunches. American David Wise was the winner with a score of 92.00. He edged out Canadian Mike Riddle for the podium's top spot.
Frenchman Kevin Rolland secured bronze in the event, one that quickly gained attention during more than a decade of X Games competitions.
Sochi provided a grandstand for the halfpipe, which is becoming increasingly popular among the young generation of skiers and X Games fans. The sport's stars lived up to the hype in Sochi.
Women's Snowboard Slopestyle
The debut of Winter Games women's slopestyle snowboarding featured an eclectic mix of competitors from across the globe. No country produced two finalists in the top five, providing evidence of an even playing field.
That's key to see in a new Olympic event.
American Jamie Anderson earned gold, edging out Enni Rukajarvi of Finland, British boarder Jenny Jones, Sina Candrian of Switzerland and Czech standout Sarka Pancochova.
Women's Ski Halfpipe
Canadian freestyle skier and innovator Sarah Burke strove to get this event into the Olympics. Sadly, the icon passed away in 2012 after a training accident, but her memory became a focal point of the halfpipe debut.
Skiers paid homage to Burke and provided incredible performances throughout the event. The emotions seen on the halfpipe ensure it has a future on the Winter Olympics slate.
American Maddie Bowman earned a gold medal, while Marie Martinod of France followed in second place. Japanese standout Ayana Onozuka claimed the bronze medal.
Women's Ski Slopestyle
This was another event influenced by the late Sarah Burke, and it featured several clutch efforts with everything on the line. Canadian Dara Howell was a star among stars.
She executed a scintillating switch-900 to earn a final score of 94.20. The incredible effort placed her well ahead of the competition en route to gold.
American Devin Logan put her skills on display with a silver-medal sprint punctuated by a frontside 720 spin. Kim Lamarre secured a second medal for Canada by claiming bronze.
Like the other additions to skiing, this event is around to stay.
Men's Snowboard Parallel Slalom
Vic Wild and his story stole the show in parallel slalom snowboarding. The American native-turned-expat became a Team Russia star by securing the second of his two gold medals in Sochi.
His achievement highlighted this intriguing Olympic addition. The tournament-style competition provided constant one-on-one drama and should be a fan favorite for years to come.
Wild nipped Slovenian Zan Kosir by 0.11 seconds in a climactic finish. Austrian Benjamin Karl claimed bronze.
Women's Snowboard Parallel Slalom
Austrian Julia Dujmovits rallied on her final run to surge past German Anke Karstens. The thrilling finish in this event proved its value as a must-watch Olympic competition.
Fellow German Amelie Kober also reached the podium thanks to a third-place finish.
The event supplied a mild surprise, as parallel giant slalom gold medalist Patrizia Kummer failed to survive the first round.
Women's Ski Jumping
Carina Vogt entered Olympic action without a single World Cup victory. But the German jumper emerged as champion in Sochi.
This event was lobbied for passionately in recent years and represented a major step for female competitors. The competition buzzed with excitement.
Austrian Daniela Iraschko-Stolz finished with silver strapped across her neck, while Coline Mattel claimed a bronze medal for France.
The inaugural women's ski jumping was an unquestionable success, and it opens the door for future female skiers on the Olympic level.