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Sports in Sochi

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Robyn Naragon, Opinions Editor

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It’s only once every four years that hundreds of athletes from around the world gather in one place to compete for the handful of medals. That’s right, it’s almost time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. This year the games will be held in Sochi, Russia starting on Feb. 7 and ending on Feb. 23. Not only are there eight new events being added this year, but there are some local athletes representing in Russia as well.

Figure skating is one of the more popular events at the Winter Olympics, but just as the Summer Olympics have gymnastics teams, this year will be the first year in which there are figure skating teams; showcasing 10 teams of qualified skaters from Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States. The teams will allow countries lacking in individual favorites to be able to compete for another chance at the gold.

To increase the excitement of the games, Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle Snowboarding and skiing has been added to the list of events. This competition is a fusion between the X Games and the traditional Winter Olympics where competitors snowboard or ski down mountainside “terrain parks” where they perform tricks for the scoring panel. Athletes are given points for how difficult the tricks are and their execution of their moves.

Men’s and Women’s Parallel Slalom Snowboarding is another new event where two snowboarders compete directly against each other in a narrow parallel course that is divided by red and blue flags. The first athlete to finish first and stay within their boundaries the best wins the round and the snowboarder who is undefeated will win the gold medal.

Snowboarding won’t be the only thing happening in the halfpipe this year because Men’s and Women’s Ski Halfpipe will also be featured in Sochi. Just like in snowboarding, the athletes will be scored based on the difficulty and execution of their tricks as they flip and turn into the sky.

After much waiting, women will be able to join in the Ski Jump at this year’s Olympic games. They will compete at the normal hill event which is at 90 meters. In addition to their style and form, the ladies will be scored on how far they jump.

Luge will also be gaining a team event with the addition of the Luge Team Relay. The teams will consist of a single female rider, single male and a doubles team who will race to the waiting teammate and open the starting gate. The first doubles team to cross the finish line will win. This event has been a part of the regular Luge World Cup season but 2014 will mark its first year at the Olympics.

The Mixed Biathlon relay will be the first time ever in the Winter Olympics where men and women will be competing together in a biathlon. It includes two women who will cross-country ski six kilometer loops and shoot rifles from the two positions and two men who will ski 7.5 kilometer loops and shoot rifles from the two positions.

If the new events aren’t exciting enough, the local athletes representing the US in Sochi may be. Some of the biggest news floating around is about this year’s games is about 15-year-old figure skater Polina Edmunds who happens to attend Archbishop Mitty High School. This will be her first senior-level international competition and it will also be a homecoming for her Russian mother.

Even though he may not be a Bay Area native, San Jose Sharks player, Joe Pavelski, will be playing for Team USA Hockey this year. He is the only Sharks player on Team USA, but his Sharks teammates Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be playing for Team Canada and Antti Niemi will be playing for Team Finland.

New and exciting things are sure to happen in Sochi starting on Feb. 7 so make sure to tune in and support your favorite Olympians.

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