Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is "The World". The Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia are less than a month away now. Opening ceremonies are on February 7th, although the first events are scheduled to start on the 6th. One of those first events is actually new to the Winter Olympics. It's team figure skating. Yup, in addition to their individual events, some figure skaters will compete as part of teams representing their nations. Ten countries, including Russia and the US, are in the running for a team medal. Josh Ellis of American Figure Skating says this new event is already generating a lot of buzz.
Josh Ellis: Not only am I excited, but all of the athletes are excited for ten nations together and each have a man, a lady, a pairs team, and an ice dance couple go out there and perform as a team. This is similar to the gymnastics team event where athletes will compete by themselves to get a score and those scores are added together and then the top three teams with the highest scores will receive Olympic medals.
Werman: Team gymnastics is always pretty popular with American viewers. I'm sure NBC is hoping for something similar here. Another new event getting its debut in Sochi is slopestyle snowboarding and there's also slopestyle skiing. For those not in the know, slopestype is like totally inspired by skateboarding with athletes doing wild tricks while they maneuver rails and jumps. Ray Beveer with the American Association of Snowboard Instructors says these events will definitely have high entertainment value.
Ray Beveer: So you're going to see kids going off enormous jumps. You'll see double back-flips, you'll see cork maneuvers which is an off-access flip, you'll see kids on rails which are great big metal or plastic boxes that they slide on on their gear, and you'll see a couple of really bad crashes. I think sometimes that's what people gravitate toward, just to watch the crash. But everyone really needs to take a look at the athleticism in there, these guys are amazing.
Werman: Other newcomers to the Winter Olympics scene like women's ski-jumping and half-pipe skiing also promise to be fun to watch, and that's the point says Steve Zeitchik. He writes about Olympic TV coverage for the LA Times and he says these adrenalized Winter Olympic events could help the Sochi Games reach new audiences.
Steve Zeitchik: "I think, generally, the idea here is to create competitions that are just going to bring in younger viewers. There's a feeling that as hair-raising as some of these things are, some of these competitions are, the Olympics tend to garner an older audience. If you bring in things like snowboarding, add more snowboarding events, more of these kind of daredevil events, you're going to see a somewhat younger demographic and that's what they're going for.