By David Owen at SportAccord in London

Womens_ski_jumpingApril 6 - Women's ski jumping was today celebrating the biggest day in its history, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed its inclusion in the next Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

The discipline is one of six new events definitely added to the Sochi programme.

The others are ski halfpipe for men and women, biathlon mixed relay, figure skating team event and luge team relay.

A further five events – ski slopestyle for men and women, snowboard slopestyle men and women and alpine team parallel competition – must wait another few weeks to learn whether they have also earnt their inclusion.

It is estimated that the expansion could conceivably swell athlete numbers at the Games by up to 150.

Women's ski jumping fought a bitter but unsuccessful campaign to be included in last year's Vancouver Winter Olympics, but had appeared well placed to be added to the Sochi programme since winning the support of Gerhard Heiberg, the influential IOC member from Norway, following the recent World Championships.

IOC sports director Christophe Dubi confirmed at SportAccord here that the World Championships had been key to the body's change of heart, saying there was "much more quality and depth" in the top 30 finalists than in 2009.

The gold medal was won by Austria's Daniela Iraschko with two jumps of 97 metres in a competition affected by strong winds and fog.

Dubi also remarked on the "big increase of technical capability" in the event and said the world championships had been "really critical" to the IOC's decision.

A decision would be made on the pending events in "a matter of weeks".

Jacques Rogge, IOC President, said the new inclusions were "exciting, entertaining events that perfectly complement the existing events on the sports programme, bring added appeal and increase the number of women participating at the Games".

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