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Parallel Slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics

A new snowboarding event debuts at 2014 Olympics, Sochi


Parallel Slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics
Christian Jansky/Wikimedia/CC BY 3.0

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will feature more snowboarding events than ever. Many spectators and snowboard fans have heard about the inclusion of the snowboard slopestyle competition for both men and women on the 2014 event roster, but another discipline -- parallel slalom -- has been added as well.

While it may not have received as much press as the more popular slopestyle discipline, the parallel slalom event is certain to turn heads as snowboarders race side-by-side to compete for the fastest time.

Event Overview

The parallel slalom event is similar to the giant parallel slalom event, which was in the Winter Olympics since the 2002 Games in Park City, Utah.

Like giant parallel slalom races, riders competing in parallel slalom by racing through gates in a head-to-head battle on courses located side by side. The difference in the parallel slalom discipline is that the gates are placed closer together than in the giant parallel slalom course, which means it requires more precise turns at high speeds. Ultimately, the racer who reaches the finish line first wins.

The Course at the 2014 Winter Olympics

The 2014 Winter Olympics parallel slalom course is 320-meters long with an 85-meter vertical drop. The race will be held in the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park -- roughly 50 miles outside of the city of Sochi on the Aibga Ridge -- where all of the Olympic snowboarding events will take place in 2014.

Olympic Structure

The structure of the Olympic parallel slalom competition is different than the ones in which you’d compete at your home mountain. The event consists of qualification and finals rounds -- starting with 32 male riders and 32 female riders.

Timed qualification rounds reduce the number of competitors to 16 men and 16 women. From that point forward, the competition continues in a knock-out format with the remaining competitors racing head-to-head.

Each round consists of two racers competing on courses side-by-side. The rider who finishes second in the first run must start the next run with the time disadvantage they incurred. The rider who crosses the finish line first in the second head-to-head run wins.

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