Thursday, April 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

At Winter Olympics, an X Games breaks out

SOCHI, Russia — Without them the U.S. would have just a few gold medals, and NBC would have trouble getting the younger eyeballs it needs to justify the $775 million it spent to land the Winter Olympics.

With them it sure doesn’t look like Sonja Henie’s Olympics anymore.

Snowboarders flying upside down high above the halfpipe. Skicross racers crashing in tandem and sliding across the line in a photo finish. Thrills and spills that make the bobsled look so yesteryear.

The Winter Olympics have morphed into the Winter X Games. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

They’re no longer just stoked to be here. Extreme athletes are changing the look of the games, and shaping them for future generations to come.

“I think the Olympics needed this energy,” said Gretchen Bleiler, a snowboarder cut her competitive chops in the X Games before winning silver in the 2006 Olympics. “The Olympics looked at ESPN’s X Games and saw the enormous popularity and they wanted in on something that was new, exciting and fresh.”

Just six Olympics after the first freestyle skiing medals were awarded in 1992, athletes in Sochi will split 60 medals across both freestyle and snowboarding events. Another 24 medals will be given out in short track speedskating which, if not technically an X Games event, sure looks like one.

No, snowmobile aerials won’t be added at the next games, and the luge won’t be combined with the biathlon in some crazy new sport. But there’s a good chance another 12 extreme athlete medals will be available with the addition of ski and snowboard big air competitions.

“When the X games came to be in the 90s it sort of gave a little bit of a wake-up call to the Olympics and said these are the sports kids are into these days,” said Mike Douglas, a Canadian known as “The Godfather of freeskiing.” ”I watch all the sports during the Olympics but something like two-man luge I shake my head and wonder why. In skicross or boardcross there’s a lot of action and it’s easy to see who is going to win.”

Adding extreme sports has been the mission of the IOC since the early 1990s, when even the stodgiest Olympic officials began realizing that there was a need to grow the audience for the Winter Games. Skiing aerials came first, then snowboarding in the 1998 games, and more events have been added to each in almost every Olympics since.

Medal counts have soared. There will be a total of 294 medals awarded in Sochi, compared to just 138 in the Calgary Games of 1988.

“It just gives more options for kids to be inspired and to have that Olympic gold,” said Julia Mancuso, a four-time U.S. Olympic medalist. “The kids are looking up to those other sports that were just X Games or action sports before. It’s cool to have different avenues to do your best. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Nothing at all, especially if you root for the red, white and blue at the Olympics. Going into the weekend, six of the nine gold medals won by Americans were in snowboarding or freestyle skiing, and the sports accounted for 12 of the 27 medals overall.

In the extreme sports added for the first time at the Sochi games, the numbers were even better. Americans won five new events and got silver in another.

The new sports have kept the U.S. near the top of the overall medal chart in an Olympics where speedskaters were nearly shut out and figure skaters won only two medals. But the results may prove fleeting.

“It will be very difficult to maintain that level of medal production for the U.S. going forward,” said Steve Roush former chief of sport performance for the U.S. Olympic Committee. “The rest of the world is catching up.”

There are some in traditional events who think the Olympics have gone far enough. An Olympics built on the foundation of skating, skiing and jumping, they argue, should be enough.

“You don’t need more new sports,” said Hans Pum, sports director of the Austrian ski federation. “We have a few new ones, but that (should be it). Don’t always bring in more and more.”

Even with the new sports, there will always be a spot for the competitions that were the core of the first Winter Games in 1924. Henie, the Norwegian figure skater, gave the games a boost by winning three gold medals in a row beginning in 1928, and figure skating is reliably one of the most watched events of the Olympics.

“I don’t think there’s a risk to the other, more traditional disciplines,” said Paul Kristofic, vice president of Alpine Canada. “You’ll always have ones that have been around for a long, long time, and some of them have a cult-like following out there and I don’t think they’ll die. ”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Congressman talks Travis, water

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Travis lines up 2 days of aviation excellence

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Appreciate how good we have it now

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

Garamendi talks love, pro football and Peace Corps

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Author to sign books at Vacaville Museum

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Kroc Center women schedule inaugural Taster Tea

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
Dixon May Fair has deals on advance tickets

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Juneteenth committee extends vendors, exhibitors deadline

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Congressional Art Competition is back

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Spilled tomato juice case set for trial

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Theme park welcomes seal pup

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Docents to lead paddling tour in marsh

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Weather for Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
Fairfield police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Syrian activists accuse Assad of new gas attacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Murder charge for Vallejo man in head-on crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California bill reignites affirmative action fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Andy Lopez protest leads to school campus lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Navy Cross bestowed on heroic Marine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Airport official: Teen had no clue he was in Maui

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Rail safety effort marred by squabbling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Small Wyoming town evacuated after gas explosion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Bashtag: NYPD Twitter campaign backfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case gets new name

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Lawyer: US man held in Cuba seeks to go home soon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Captain who left doomed ferry had 40 years at sea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Russian social media CEO quits, flees country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Amid Russia warning, Ukraine is in a security bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
State senators get ethics training after scandals

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 4 Comments

.

Opinion

Be the first and give specifics

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
What we can do about crime

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11, 7 Comments

Castro at odds with mentor on deportations

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
Some Earth Day boos and cheers

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

When Joe’s mad at me, he also ignores my 7-year-old son

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for April 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Singer Chris Brown’s DC trial delayed for months

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Performing dogs go big after $1 million TV prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Jodie Foster weds artist Alexandra Hedison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Girls soccer update: Armijo, Vanden on way to playoffs

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mustangs swim to sweep of Indians

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Warriors, Clippers to meet in Oakland for Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sharks confident with chance to sweep LA Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Prep softball: Vanden rolls to 14-0 win over Fairfield

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prep badminton: Unbeaten Mustangs cruise past Crushers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep boys golf: Vikings suffer SCAC loss to Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Sanchez’s slam in 11th helps Giants beat Rox 12-10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prep track: Armijo girls get win in MEL 4-way meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Perez helps Rangers sweep A’s with 3-0 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Party a century in the making for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
A’s reject 10-year Coliseum lease offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Emmert supports more efficient, effective NCAA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Phelps having fun in his return to swimming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Suns’ Dragic honored as NBA’s Most Improved Player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Oldest living ex-MLB player dies in Cuba at 102

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Buffett disapproves of Coca-Cola’s pay plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US stocks edge lower after a six-day rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

Sales of new US homes plunge 14.5 percent in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Phyllis J. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jean Sophia Ruckdeshel

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9