Hugely popular among the younger generation, men's and women's slopestyle skiing and snowboarding will make its Winter Olympic debut as four of the 12 new medal events at the Sochi Olympics, which begin Feb. 7.
Slopestyle snowboarding takes place Feb. 8-9 and skiing goes from Feb. 11-13.
The events will definitely have a Lake Tahoe flavor, most notably from Shaun White, who has used Northstar California as a training ground the past two winters. The acrobatic White will try to add a slopestyle gold medal and a halfpipe one as well.
What is slopestyle?
In Sochi, skiers and riders will descend nearly 500 feet on a 2,083-foot course over a series of three jumps and three jibs, or long rails, that are in different shapes.
The Olympic athletes are scored on their big-air jumps and technical tricks, which can be quite breathtaking because they come at a faster speed than moguls in an event that offers more than just the one-trick ponies of freestyle aerials.
Slopestyle is a little like the halfpipe, which is why two-time Olympic halfpipe champion White is one of the slopestyle snowboard favorites.
Costas criticizes slopestyle on Today Show
But even White's presence doesn't impress Costas.
“I think the president of the IOC should be Johnny Knoxville, because, basically, this is just 'Jackass' stuff that they invented and called Olympic sports,” Costas said in January on the Today Show.
The outspoken Costas also said he intended the remark in "the kindest possible way.”
Naturally, Costas’ remarks annoyed the slopestyle community.
"We just got in the Olympics, and already we have guys who know nothing about the history of our sport telling us we're just a bunch of jackasses? That's pretty demeaning,'' slopestyle snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg told ESPN.com.
Ironically, snowboarding and the halfpipe faced the similar criticism when they entered the Olympics at the 1998 Games, which held were 10 months before U.S. slopestyle skier Maggie Voisin was born.
What perhaps bothers some Olympic observers is the Games are not the pinnacle for many in the new disciplines. The X Games also are a big deal.
“Our sport is becoming legit. It's been legit from the beginning,'' said veteran free skier Simon Dumont, who did not make the Olympic team this year. “The thing is, if you want to go to the Olympics, you have to let go of some of that freedom. If you don't want to go to the Olympics, there's other aspects of it. You can film. You can put a rail up in your backyard and slide that all day. You don't have to go the competitive route.''
Northstar’s David Wise on slopestyle competition
David Wise, a Northstar California freeskier, anticipates a very competitive run for medals in Sochi.
“People might focus one aspect – what tricks are going to win. But the reality is that every aspect plays into who wins or loses. You have the technicality of the tricks you do, and the style you do them with and how high you go and now smooth the transitions,'' U.S. skier David Wise said. “The guy who wins isn't necessarily the guy whose doing the hardest tricks. It's going to be the guy who has a little bit of everything. We're constantly debating: Is technicality more important or style?