Four new disciplines were added to the programme for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it was officially announced here today.

Curling mixed doubles, speed skating mass start, Alpine skiing team event and snowboard big air were all approved for the Games in South Korea by the International Olympic Committee's ruling Executive Board. 

Snowboard parallel slalom, however, has been dropped to make way for snowboard big air, with the agreement of the International Ski Federation (FIS). 

It means that for the first time since the Winter Olympics started in 1924 a total of 100 gold medals will be available. 

The new programme will allow for a record number of female events, a record number of mixed events, a record number if female athlete, and a projected increase in the overall participation rates at the Winter Olympics, reflecting the implementation of Agenda 2020, the IOC claimed. 

The changes reflect the continued evolution of the Winter Olympic programme and build on the success of recent editions of the Games, the IOC claimed in a statement. 

“IOC Olympic Agenda 2020 opened the door to more flexibility with the events and we believe that adding new events will make the 2018 Winter Games more innovative and open new horizons, inspiring and inviting more participation in winter sports," said Yang-ho Cho, President of Pyeongchang 2018. 

"They will expand and improve the Olympic programme encouraging more athletes to compete by reaching out to a wider audience.”

Big air, a part of the FIS Snowboard World Championships since 2003, is a sports discipline where the competitor rides snowboard down a hill and perform tricks after launching off very large jumps, like an extreme version of slopestyle.

Competitors perform complex tricks in the air, aiming to attain sizable height and distance as well, all while securing a clean landing. 

The Alpine team vent was a favourite at the last FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek earlier this year where IOC President Thomas Bach had announced he would like to see it on the Olympic programme. 

The event features a mixed team of two men and two ladies competing for their teams in a head-to-head slalom with a knock-out format per round.

Traditionally, 16 teams are at the start of the competition.

The event had made its debut at the FIS World Championship debut in 2005, and in the parallel format in 2011.

“I am very pleased with the decision to include these two events that reflect both the traditional and youth elements of the FIS disciplines,” said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.

“The athlete, media and fan reaction to both events has been overwhelmingly positive and I believe both events will make a fine addition to the Olympic Games.”

The addition of another medal for curling confirms the sport's popularity since it was restored to the Olympic programme at Nagano in 1998. 

“We are absolutely delighted with this news confirming that mixed doubles will be included in the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games," said Kate Caithness, President of the World Curling Federation.

"Our athletes have showcased this exciting and dynamic alternative to traditional team curling at our World Mixed Doubles Championships for many years now and we’re thrilled that their progress has been rewarded by the IOC’s decision.”

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 New events across four sports proposed for Pyeongchang 2018