The 2022 Winter Games in Beijing will be historic for several reasons -- it will feature the highest number of women's events in an Olympic Winter program, and the Games will also see the highest number of gender-balanced disciplines.
To accomplish that, the IOC last week announced the inclusion of seven new medal events, increasing female participation from 41 percent in PyeongChang to 45.44 percent for Beijing.
The other goal of the additions: to introduce events that will appeal to a younger audience. With that in mind, the women's monobob made the cut ahead of a four-women bobsleigh event (to coexist with the men's event). Monobob's popular run at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics and its feasibility -- bobsleigh costs 3-4 more times than a monobob -- made it the more obvious choice.
Another event that has been widely popular is Big Air. The snowboard version, which made its debut at the 2018 Winter Olympics, saw 21-year-old American Kyle Mack take the silver medal. The inaugural edition of the Big Air freestyle skiing event (both men's and women's) will be held in Beijing.
Apart from the seven new events, there will also be more entrants added to existing team events: women's ice hockey and mixed doubles curling will have two more teams each, while biathlon, luge, skating and skiing will lose quota of athletes and 12 men's bobsled quotas will be given to the women's monobob event. While this is good news for monobob, women's Nordic combined will not be a part of the 2022 Games.
Despite the additions, fewer athletes will compete in Beijing -- only 2,892 overall, 41 fewer than in PyeongChang. This was done to stick to the Olympic Charter goal of decreasing the overall size of the pool.
Here's a breakdown of the new events, and why you should follow them:
One look at the monobob reminds you of a miniature version of the Batmobile, with a pointed front and a tiny opening (with two sharp bat-ear like projections) in the rear for the driver to jump into after propelling the vehicle forward. Unlike traditional bobsleigh where two athletes are involved, one to push and one to drive, monobob is a single-person event -- you push and you drive. The other major difference: In bobsleigh, you can make use of advanced aerospace engineering to create a superior vehicle. That is scrapped in monobob -- every athlete competes with a similar sled. It is all about how they make use of their surroundings and the track to achieve a perfect race.
Men's and women's Big Air freestyle skiing
If you couldn't get enough of the freestyle skiing events at the PyeongChang Olympics (there were five for each gender -- aerials, halfpipe, moguls, ski cross and slopestyle), the addition of these events is good news for you. In Big Air freestyle skiing, athletes will ski down a hill, making large jumps and performing tricks in the air, similar to that of Big Air snowboarding. Why you should watch it: The tricks.
Four sports that already saw men's and women's teams competing at PyeongChang will incorporate mixed events: short track speedskating, ski jumping, ski aerials and snowboardcross. The IOC has been a big proponent of mixed events, a principal component of the Youth Olympics Games that have gained popularity in the main Olympic program ever since mixed biathlon and luge events were introduced in 2014 and alpine skiing and curling events in 2018. The short-track event will be a relay, similar to that of the men's and women's events.