SOCHI (AP) -- Three mixed events, four men’s events and four women’s events will be making their debut in Sochi:
Luge mixed relay
How it works: Each country sends three sleds down the track, one after the other, so it’s not a relay in a pass-the-baton sense. Because this is the last luge event on the schedule, participants are usually chosen based on their performances in their individual events. The first sled down the track is a competitor from women’s singles, followed by men’s singles and doubles. When each sled reaches the finish line, the competitor sits up and slaps a time pad hanging over the track. The combined time of the three sleds is the winner.
Biathlon mixed relay
How it works: Biathlon had men’s and women’s relays in previous Games. The mixed relay team consists of two men and two women. The women ski three laps of six kilometers and the men three laps of 7.5 kilometers, with two rounds of shooting (prone and standing). The start order is woman-woman-man-man. In the handover zone, competitors must touch the hand of the next teammate to ski.
Team figure skating
How it works: The competition begins with 10 countries using six skaters apiece performing short programs: men’s and women’s singles, pairs and ice dancing. The countries with the top five combined scores move on to the long programs to determine the medals. Countries do not have to use the same skaters in the long program as they did in the short program\. The team event will be held before the individual events. In fact, the short program phase takes place the day before Opening Ceremonies.
Women’s ski jumping
How it works: Just like men’s ski jumping: Athletes get one jump, and those with the top scores get a second jump. The top aggregate score wins.
Freestyle skiing halfpipe (Men’s and women’s)
How it works: It’s like halfpipe snowboarding (think Shaun White) but on skis. Skiers try many of the same maneuvers - flips, grabs, somersaults and twists - as you see in the snowboarding event. Each skier gets two runs in a qualifying heat, and the top scorers advance to the final, where again each gets two runs. This is a scored event; judges look for difficulty and execution, but also can consider the overall impression of the performance.
Freestyle skiing slopestyle (Men’s and women’s)
How it works: Competitors perform on a slope with a variety of obstacles - rails, quarter-pipes and jumps. The event follows an elimination format: two runs each round, with semifinals and finals. Judges look for overall impression, weighing execution, difficulty and variety, among other things.
Snowboarding slopestyle (Men’s and women’s)
How it works: Competitors are judged on tricks performed over jumps on a downhill course.
Snowboarding parallel special slalom (Men’s and women’s)
How it works: Athletes compete in pairs, hence the "parallel." They must maneuver around tightly spaced flags, hence the "slalom." And it’s new this year, hence the "special."