Lindsey Jacobellis

Mixed Team Snowboard Cross Makes Its Olympic Debut: Here's How It Works

It is not a new event in the snowboarding world, but it is the first time it is occurring at the Olympics — here are the rules

Women's snowboard cross
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

As part of an effort toward gender equality, the Olympics added more mixed team events that feature men and women competing together for the Beijing Games, including one event that will be making its Olympic debut: mixed team snowboard cross.

While it has never been part of the Olympics before, the event is far from new: It's been raced in snowboard cross events and World Cup events for almost a decade.

So how does it work?

There are 16 teams with two athletes each, one man and one woman. Each country's delegation is allowed to enter up to two teams per event (which is what the U.S. has, with four total athletes competing on two teams.)

The men's race is first, with four competitors racing down starting at the same time, as it is in standard snowboard cross. When the first racer crosses the finish line, his time advantage over the next competitor goes to the female teammate.

The women's race begins staggered, with the differences in timing depending on how far behind first the next three racers were.

For example, let's say the male athlete for Team A finishes first, followed by Team B at one second behind, Team C at two seconds behind, and Team D at three seconds behind. That means the female athlete for Team A would start, followed by the female athlete for Team B starting a second later, Team C starting two seconds later, and Team D starting three seconds later.

The first woman to make it down the course wins it for the team, so it's important for the male athlete to try and pass as much of a time advantage as possible.

The two best teams from each heat advance, until there are four teams left who compete in a final race for gold, silver and bronze.

The course will be the same as the men's and women's snowboard cross from the previous days, at Genting Snow Park, also known as Secret Garden.

For the U.S. one team will be made up of gold medalist Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner, and the other of Jake Vedder and Faye Gulini. The team of Jacobellis, 36, and Baumgartner, 40, will certainly be one of the most experienced in the race.

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