IOC weighing new women's events

10/23/2010 - Olympic Sports

ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Women's ski jumping and new events in snowboarding, Alpine skiing, figure skating, biathlon and luge are being considered for inclusion at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee will decide on additions to the program at a three-day executive board meeting opening Sunday.

Women's ski jumping was previously turned down twice by the IOC in its bid for inclusion at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The IOC said that the sport lacked a sufficient number of elite competitors.

Women jumpers took their case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but failed to overturn the IOC decision.

In an incongruous setting, Olympic officials are meeting at a palm-lined Pacific beach resort to approve winter sports to be contested in the North Caucasus mountains of Sochi, Russia.

Proposed for inclusion are women's ski jumping, men's and women's snowboard and Alpine slopestyle, men's and women's ski halfpipe, a parallel racing Alpine team event, mixed relay in biathlon, a team event in figure skating, and a luge team competition.

Several, but not all, are expected to gain approval Monday.

IOC officials said women's ski jumping may be accepted on a conditional basis, pending a review of the quality of competition at the 2011 world championships in Norway.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has said he supports the addition of women's jumping but only if there is a continued growth in the number of top competitors.

The inaugural women's ski jumping world championship took place last year in Liberec, Czech Republic, and was won by Lindsey Van of the United States. Next year's championship will be held in Oslo on Feb. 25.

The International Ski Federation, or FIS, plans to start a women's ski jumping World Cup circuit starting with the 2011-12 season. Women have competed on the Continental Cup circuit since 2005.

"Approval for Sochi 2014 is huge for the advancement of the sport," said Deedee Corradini, a women's jumping advocate and president of Women's Ski Jumping USA. "It will bring many more young women and girls into the sport that have stayed away because they haven't been welcome on the ultimate stage: the Olympics."

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper said he is "very optimistic" that all five proposed ski events will win approval, if not immediately then in the coming months.

"They don't need additional courses or anything built," he said. "And there is enough space in the program."

The addition of slopestyle and ski halfpipe events would be the latest push by the IOC to bring in events that appeal to youth. Skicross made its debut in Vancouver.

"It gives us a different image and color to the Olympic Winter Games," Kasper said.

In slopestyle, athletes do tricks while going down the mountain and through "features" -- rails, big jumps and bumps. American snowboard star Shaun White, who won the halfpipe gold medal in Vancouver, has said he would like to add slopestyle to his schedule if it's approved for Sochi.

Ski slopestyle is similar to the snowboard version.

In ski halfpipe, skiers score points for performing tricks and jumps on the same course used for the snowboard halfpipe. The event is on the schedule for the 2011 Freestyle Ski World Championships in Park City, Utah.

The Alpine team event, which has been held at the World Championships since 2005, features racers going head-to-head in a parallel giant slalom.

In skating, a World Team Trophy was held for the first time last year in Tokyo. The event featured eight skaters per team -- two male single skaters, two female single skaters, one pairs couple and one ice dancing couple.