Monday June 8th, 2015

The International Olympic Committee announced Monday that it has added four new events to its program for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Athletes will now be able to compete in big air in snowboarding and freestyle skiing, mass start in speedskating and mixed doubles in curling after ratification by the IOC executive board.

The men’s and women’s snowboard parallel slalom event was dropped from the Olympic program.

The IOC said the changes were made to the program based on “added value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; gender equality; minimum impact on the number of events and/or quotas; and infrastructure and operational cost and complexity.”

For the big air events, competitors attempt to fly off a highly pitched ramp and perform jumps with multiple flips and spins, while trying to complete as many jumps as possible in the time allotted.

Curling has been part of the Olympic program since 1998. In the mixed doubles competition, there will be teams of two players - one male and one female. Each team would have six stones each, instead of the traditional eight.

IOC also said that the Olympic program evaluation criteria for the 2020 Summer Games in Toyko was approved. Baseball and softball, which were both dropped after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, are up for consideration to be brought back.

Japan won the last Olympics softball gold medal, with the United States taking silver. South Korea won the baseball gold medal over Cuba in Beijing. The U.S. team went home with the bronze medal.

The final choice of events will be made to the IOC by Sept. 30 and a final decision on what new sports, if any, will be added to the program is set for August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

- Scooby Axson

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