The countdown is definitely on – February 12 is the date for the opening ceremony of the 21st Winter Olympic Games to be held in and around Vancouver, Canada.
As well as some of the iconic winter sports such as downhill skiing, ice hockey, skating in its many different guises, snowboarding and the like the 2010 games will host a new event – namely ski cross.
You may not have heard of ski cross but in essence it is the same as snowboard cross but on skis and according to Wikipedia it is involves a time trial or qualification round, every competitor skis down the course, which is built to encompass both naturally occurring terrain and artificial features like jumps, rollers, banks — whatever the course builder can imagine.
After the time trial, the fastest 16 (in women’s events) or 32 skiers (in men’s events) compete in a knockout (KO)-style series in rounds of four. A group of four skiers start simultaneously and attempt to reach the end of the course. The first two to cross the finish line will advance to the next round. At the end, the final and small final rounds determine 1st to 4th and 5th to 8th places, respectively.
Competitors are not allowed to pull or push each other during the KO finals. Any intentional contact to the other competitors will be penalized by disqualification or exclusion from the next race.
As is often the case pictures are better than words and this video from 20min, although somewhat dated demonstrates the action in this exciting and challenging extreme sport.
The 21st Winter Olympics are fast approaching and with the likes of ski cross our appetite for some serious action is truly whetted – bring them on!