What sport will debut at the 2018 Winter Olympics? It sounds both dangerous and thrilling

With every new Olympics season comes the discovery of yet another sport we’ve never heard of before. This time, that sport is big air snowboarding, which makes its official Winter Olympics debut in 2018.

Once you’ve had your fill of figure skating and downhill skiing, we definitely recommend checking out big air snowboarding. As described by The New York Times, big air snowboarding is essentially like surfing in the air. (Snowboarding actually has origins in Hawaii and was modeled after traditional surfing. Who knew?)

Big air snowboarding evolved from events like freestyle snowboarding, and its inclusion in this year’s Olympics comes after the halfpipe and slopestyle were added in 1998 and 2014, respectively. Big air snowboarders are evaluated not on how high they go, but on their execution of tricks while in the air.

For a more technical description of big air snowboarding, here’s how New York Times writer John Jeremiah Sullivan broke it down:

“Big air works like this: You stand at the top of a high, steep slope. You get going down it exceptionally fast. You hit a ramp, the kind of ramp you might use if you needed to jump your motorcycle over a canyon. When you fire off this ramp on your snurfer, having hit the lip of it with tremendous force, you fly into the air very high and far.


Or, if you want to get your heart racing, just watch this video of big air snowboarding in action at the 2015 Winter X Games:


Okay, it looks terrifying, especially because big air athletes launch themselves pretty high in the air. The sport is not for the faint of heart, and can actually be incredibly dangerous. Here’s how Scientific American described it:

"The snowboarding event is likely to be a big draw, with its 49-meter-high ramp — one of the world’s tallest — creating the potential for breathtaking new tricks as well as some spectacular and potentially dangerous wipeouts."

Yeah, that sounds pretty scary. We can’t wait to watch, but we hope everyone stays safe!

We’re also pretty curious to see what Olympic commentator Leslie Jones will have to say about this.

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