IOC mulls new sports for 2010 

Skiercross on list of events being considered

By Andrew Mitchell

The International Olympic Committee is currently looking at the possibility of adding several new events to the 2010 Winter Games schedule, although final approval of new events will ultimately reside with the Vancouver Organizing Committee.

According to Cathy Priestner Allinger, VANOC’s executive vice president for sport, the decision on whether to include the new events will be made based on costs, operational impacts (such as space in the athletes’ villages, scheduling), and whether or not Canada is a strong medal contender.

The good news is that Canada could be a strong contender in all proposed events.

Skiercross is on top of the list. Snowboardcross made its debut in the 2006 Winter Games and was a huge success with spectators and television audiences.

There is currently an active World Cup circuit for skiercross, as well as a well-established series of pro events around the world. If held in 2010, the skiers would use the same course as the snowboarders.

As for Canada’s medal chances, Whistler’s Ashleigh McIvor and Davey Barr, as well as Squamish-based Aleisha Cline, are considered among the top skiercross racers in the world, with top results at both World Cup and pro events.

Another sport being reviewed is women’s ski jumping, which meets the IOC’s mandate of providing equal opportunity to both male and female athletes.

More women’s ski jumping events are held each year, and last year there was a junior world championship for the sport.

Canada’s prospects are all young but talented, with Atsuko Tanaka winning silver in the junior championships. Her teammates Katie Willis and Nata DeLeeuw were ninth and 13 th in the first ever women’s world championship for ski jumping.

Other sports under consideration include mixed doubles curling, team events in Alpine skiing, bobsled and luge, and a biathlon mixed relay.

In terms of medal prospects, Canada is already among the top nations in the world for both men’s and women’s curling, the alpine team is getting stronger with each passing year, and Canadians have traditionally done well in bobsled and luge. Canada’s Nordic program is also picking up, thanks to the efforts of cross-country skiers like 2006 medallists Sara Renner, Beckie Scott and Chandra Crawford.

The IOC will make its decision at the end of November, at which point the ball will be in VANOC’s court to decide which new events can be hosted in 2010, if any. Sports not adopted in 2010 may be mandatory for 2014.

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