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2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi, Russia

It's a year of snowboarding firsts in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi, Russia

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Holland competing in the 2010 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup

Photo credit: LGE

Snowboarding has come a long way since its first Olympic appearance at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. In those monumental Olympic Games, only four events existed -- men’s halfpipe, women’s halfpipe, men’s giant slalom, and women’s giant slalom. Since then, snowboarding events have come and gone as the event has morphed into a mainstream sport.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi not only feature two new snowboarding events on the roster, they’re presenting an entirely new set of up-and-coming athletes ready to shock the world.

Snowboarding Events at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games include five men’s snowboarding events and five women’s snowboarding events. Giant parallel slalom, parallel slalom, halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross are also on the roster.

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi are the first games to feature men’s and women’s slopestyle and parallel slalom competitions.

Giant Parallel Slalom

Snowboarders fight to be the fastest giant parallel slalom rider in the world in this speed racing event. The event begins with a few qualifying rounds in which each competitor is timed on a course featuring tight turns and gates. Based on those times, the top 16 competitors advance. This is when the competition turns to a head-to-head race with courses side by side.

Each rider competes in two head-to-runs. After the first run the racers swap courses. The winner of the head-to-head races is determined by the fastest combined time. Like other racing events, if the rider falls or misses a gate on the first run, his time is penalized. If she falls or misses a gate on the second run, she loses that heat.

Parallel Slalom

Slopestyle competition’s entrance to the Olympics in 2014 received a lot of attention, but the entrance of the new parallel slalom event was not as widely discussed.

Parallel slalom could be regarded as giant parallel slalom’s evil twin. Similar to giant parallel slalom, the event takes place on a downhill course with flags spaced throughout. The difference is that the flags are placed closer together on the parallel slalom course, requiring tighter, more precise turns.

The 2014 parallel slalom men’s and women’s events at Sochi each feature 32 individual riders. The course is 320 meters long with a vertical drop of 85 meters. Just like the giant parallel slalom event, this event consists of qualifying rounds to reduce the number of finalists to 16.

The battle then continues in a head-to-head format with two riders racing side by side. The loser of the first round starts the second round with the time disadvantage determined by the difference in finishes on the first run, which means the first rider to cross the finish line on the second run wins.

Snowboard Cross

Snowboard cross has long been a fan-favorite at the Winter Olympics because of the diversity of the course and the excitement having six racers on the same course at the same time.

Riders must weave, jump, slide, and carve their way through a course consisting of gates, hills, jumps, ramps, banks and turns. While tricks are certainly allowed, the winner is determined by the fastest time, so riders generally limit themselves to straight airs and grabs.

The 2014 snowboard cross events in Sochi features 40 male riders and 24 female riders. The women’s event starts with four heats of six riders and the men’s features eight heats of five riders. The semi final rounds for both men and women feature six riders on the course at the same time.  

The men’s and women’s final rounds determine who gets first through sixth place, as well as seventh through 12th.

Halfpipe

Halfpipe is the event that brought snowboarding into the mainstream. It even turned some top competitors into household names.

The halfpipe at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, located in the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, is 180-meters long, 20-meters wide, and 7-meters tall (from the base to the top of the wall). Male and female riders will present their biggest airs and most difficult maneuvers in this massive Olympic halfpipe.

The halfpipe event begins with a qualifier round. The following rounds continue with each rider taking two runs. The rider’s highest scoring run is used to determine if they pass to the next round, or, if it’s the final round, the highest score determines the rider’s placement.

Riders are judged on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0 by five judges, who each focus on an individual portion of the rider’s run. Each judge focusses on an aspect such as amplitude, standardized moves, quality of rotations, and overall impression. Two judges score the overall impression of each run.

In addition to scoring points, riders can have points deducted for mistakes, minor falls, complete falls, stops, missed airs, flat landings, and instability.

Slopestyle

The snowboarding slopestyle event is one of the most anticipated event additions to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Not only is slopestyle become one of the most popular disciplines among up-and-coming riders, it’s an exciting discipline to watch because of the diversity of the course.

In Feb. 2013, the International Olympic Committee approved ski and snowboard slopestyle events for the 2014 Sochi Games. The course is 635 meters in length with a vertical drop of 147 meters, featuring three jumps and three separate jib sections.

In Sochi, 30 male and 24 female riders will compete in the first ever Olympic snowboarding slopestyle event. The event has three rounds; a qualification round, a semi-final round and a final round. Advancement is determined by the rider’s best score of two runs.

Slopestyle scoring is based on the overall impression of tricks including variety, execution, amplitude, difficulty and landing. The highest score at the end of the final round wins.

The Rosa Khutor Extreme Park

The Rosa Khutor Extreme Park will be the official venue at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games for snowboarding and freestyle skiing events. The park -- located on the west side of the Rosa Khutor plateau -- will hold 6,250 spectators who will watch some of the most fascinating disciplines of the 2014 Winter Games in person.

Event Schedule

The snowboarding events at the Sochi Games are scheduled to begin on Feb. 6, with the final events concluding at the end of the day on Feb. 22, 2014. All athletes to compete in the various snowboard events will be confirmed between Jan. 28 and Feb. 5, 2014.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Feb. 6, 2014

    • 10 a.m. Men’s Slopestyle Qualification

    • 2 p.m. Ladies’ Slopestyle Qualification

  • Feb. 8, 2014

    • 9:30 a.m. Men’s Slopestyle Semifinals

    • 12:45 p.m. Men’s Slopestyle Finals

  • Feb. 9, 2014

    • 1:30 p.m. Ladies’ Slopestyle Semifinals

    • 1:45 p.m. Ladies’ Slopestyle Finals

  • Feb. 11, 2014

    • 2 p.m. Men’s Halfpipe Qualification

    • 7 p.m. Men’s Halfpipe Semifinals

    • 9:30 p.m. Men’s Halfpipe Finals

  • Feb. 12, 2014

    • 2 p.m. Ladies’ Halfpipe Qualification

    • 7 p.m. Ladies’ Halfpipe Semifinals

    • 9:30 p.m. Ladies’ Halfpipe Finals

  • Feb. 16, 2014

    • 11 a.m. Ladies’ Snowboard Cross Seeding

    • 1:15 p.m. Ladies’ Snowboard Cross Quarterfinals

    • 1:31 p.m. Ladies’ Snowboard Cross Semifinals

    • 1:45 p.m. Ladies’ Snowboard Cross Finals

  • Feb. 17, 2014

    • 11 a.m. Men’s Snowboard Cross Seeding

    • 1:30 p.m. Men’s Snowboard Cross ⅛ Finals

    • 2:01 p.m. Men’s Snowboard Cross Quarterfinals

    • 2:13 p.m. Men’s Snowboard Cross Semifinals

    • 2:17 p.m. Men’s Snowboard Cross Finals

  • Feb. 19, 2014

    • 9:15 a.m. Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom Qualification

    • 10:15 a.m. Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom Qualification

    • 1 p.m. Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom ⅛ Finals

    • 1: 24 p.m. Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom Quarterfinals

    • 1:37 p.m. Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom Semifinals

    • 1:48 p.m. Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom Finals

    • 1:55 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom ⅛ Finals

    • 2:19 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom Quarterfinals

    • 2:35 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom Semifinals

    • 2:43 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom Finals

  • Feb. 22, 2014

    • 9:15 a.m. Ladies’ Parallel Slalom Qualification

    • 10:15 a.m. Men’s Parallel Slalom Qualification

    • 1: 15 p.m. Men’s Parallel Slalom ⅛ Finals

    • 1: 31 p.m. Men’s Parallel Slalom Quarterfinals

    • 1:50 p.m. Men’s Parallel Slalom Semifinals

    • 2:03 p.m. Men’s Parallel Slalom Finals

    • 2:10 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Slalom ⅛ Finals

    • 2:36 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Slalom Quarterfinals

    • 2:50 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Slalom Semifinals

    • 2:58 p.m. Ladies’ Parallel Slalom Finals

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