ON Big Air at the Beijing Olympics
BEIJING, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Focus on snowboard and freeski Big Air at the 2022 Beijing Olympics:
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
It is about playing big in the air. Players slide down a 60-metre high ramp that curls up at the end and shoot themselves into the sky where they perform gravity-defying tricks and twists.
Big Air athletes win by earning as many points as possible through each jump, combining the highest scores from two of their three runs.
Points are scored by difficulty, execution, amplitude and landing. Grabbing the skis as mid-flip tricks in the air is as important as sticking the landing.
HOW MANY MEDALS?
There are four gold medals up for grabs, one each in the men’s and women’s freeski and snowboard Big Air events.
WHAT HAPPENED IN PYEONGCHANG?
Snowboard Big Air made its Olympic debut at Pyeongchang 2018. Canada's Sebastien Toutant nabbed the first men's snowboard Big Air gold medal. Austria's Anna Gasser won the women's event after nailing her cab double cork 1080 trick.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN BEIJING?
In freeski Big Air's Olympic debut, China's latest national darling Eileen Gu is seen as a gold medal hopeful in the women's event along with French freestyle skier Tess Ledeux, who shook the world with her new tricks in the X Games last month.
Alex Hall, the slopestyle and freeski Big Air specialist from Team USA is a firm podium threat in the men's events.
Su Yiming, the only Chinese snowboarder to win a World Cup Big Air title, is expected to make a breakthrough for the hosts.
Freeski Big Air is one of seven disciplines debuting at the 2022 Olympics with the aim of making the Games more appealing to a younger audience. The sport has been gaining in popularity at extreme competitions, including the X Games, for years.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
The freeski competition takes place from Feb. 7-9 and snowboarding runs from Feb. 14-15.
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?
Big Air Shougang in the Shijingshan District of Beijing has been built to host the Big Air events. Located in a former steel mill, it is the world's first permanent Big Air venue and the only snow event venue in downtown Beijing.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Big Air has been an FIS World Cup event since 2003 and has been at the X Games far longer. It is the extreme version of slopestyle, an Olympic discipline that itself debuted in 2014.
WELL FANCY THAT
In the 1977 movie "The Spy Who Loved Me", James Bond famously escapes assassins by skiing off a cliff and opening a parachute, a scene which inspired trailblazing Big Air skiers like the late Canadian Shane McConkey.
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