ON Snowboarding at the Beijing Olympics

Genting Snow Park, a competition venue for Snowboarding and Freestyle Skiing during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, is seen in Beijing, China January 15, 2022. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Focus on snowboarding at the Beijing Olympics:

THE ABSOLUTE BASICS

*There are 11 snowboarding events at the Beijing Olympics.

*The events range from big air, which has snowboarders sliding down a gigantic slope to land complicated tricks, to slopestyle, which shares similar moves to skateboarding like grinds and spins.

*Americans have dominated since the sport was included in the Olympics more than two decades ago and have so far won 31 medals, far outpacing their closest rivals Switzerland.

HOW MANY MEDALS? There are 11 gold medals up for grabs, five each in the men's and women's big air, halfpipe, slopestyle, parallel giant slalom and snowboarding cross events as well as gold in the new mixed team snowboard cross event.

WHAT HAPPENED IN PYEONGCHANG?

The U.S. continued to dominate, taking home four gold medals, but finally faced tough competition in the big air event, which had its debut in Pyeongchang. Sebastien Toutant of Canada won the men's big air division, while Austrian Anna Gasser nabbed the gold in the women's competition.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN BEIJING? Aside from the usual spectacle of massive jumps and epic tricks, Beijing will also mark the return of snowboarding prodigy Chloe Kim, who won her first gold at the X Games when she was 14. Kim will be defending her halfpipe gold after stepping away from the slopes for almost two years.

Beijing will mark the introduction of the mixed team snowboard cross, a frenetic sport with teams made up of two athletes - one woman and one man - who take turns on a course that features jumps and tight curves.

Snowboarding events will take place between Feb. 5 and 15.

WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?

At Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, around 180km northwest of Beijing.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Snowboarding was first introduced to the Olympics at the Nagano Winter Games in 1998. The sport is now one of the most exciting events in the winter programme, drawing a younger and more fanatic fanbase.

WELL FANCY THAT

The first version of the snowboard was developed by American engineer Sherman Poppen in the 1960s. One of Poppen's first snowboards - made for his daughter - was two skis stuck together. Poppen initially called it a "snurfer," combining the words 'surfing' and 'snow'. Thankfully, the name did not stick.

Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Ken Ferris

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