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IOC adds ski halfpipe, women's ski jumping to Games

The addition of ski halfpipe is a welcome addition for Canada

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On Wednesday morning the International Olympic Committee announced the addition of six new medal events to the calendar for the 2014 Games, including women's ski jumping and men's and women's ski halfpipe.

The announcement was a bit of a surprise, coming just two days after IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a press conference that a final decision wouldn't be made until a site inspection of Sochi could determine whether the events are feasible.

Other new sports to get the go-ahead on Wednesday were the biathlon mixed relay, a figure skating team event and the luge team relay.

Additional sports are still being considered, including ski and snowboard slopestyle and an alpine team event. Both could be added at a later date.

The final decision had to be approved by Sochi organizers, based on their ability to host the athletes and events, as well as their own prospects in the sport. Host nations are generally more willing to approve new events if they have an opportunity to benefit with podiums - such as Canada with the sport of ski cross.

An announcement regarding those events will be made in a few weeks after a feasibility study is completed.

The addition of ski halfpipe is welcome for Canada with some solid medal prospects in both the men's and women's fields. Sarah Burke, who lives in Squamish, is the current X Games champion and won the final two World Cup events to win the overall crystal globe for the sport - that's despite missing all of the early events as she recovered from shoulder surgery.

Burke released this statement on Wednesday. "I'm very excited and thrilled. I've been waiting for this for a number of years and have been pushing for it. So now that it's happening, it's pretty exciting.

"It's still a ways off, but this has been a dream of mine since I was a child. It's a dream come true. I hope to get the chance to make my country proud and bring home a medal."

As well as Burke, Rosalind Groenewoud is the current world champion and was ranked second on the World Cup circuit this season.

Two of the Canadian men finished in the top 10 of the World Cup, with Vernon's Justin Dorey in eighth and Calgary's Noah Bowman in 10th. Mike Riddle, ranked 12th, is the current world champion.

"We already have a strong team, a great coach and excellent facilities in this country," said Riddle. "I don't want to jinx anything, but I think that with more funding we could sweep the podium at the Games."

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