SOCHI -- After 11 days of the Sochi Olympics, all but one of the USA's six gold medals belongs to an action sport athlete. Once considered Olympic outsiders, these extreme sport athletes aren't just recent invitees to the party. They are the party.
The International Olympic Committee welcomed 12 new events in eight disciplines for these Games. More than half of them — parallel slalom snowboard, ski halfpipe, and snowboard and ski slopestyle — are action sports.
So does that mean stodgy sports such as biathlon or curling might go the way of toboggan? Is the big-air era taking over?
"Of course we need to have and preserve our history," IOC sports director Christophe Dubi said. "At the same time we have to remain relevant and make sure we capture a new audience as well."
Americans traditionally do well when new sports are introduced to the Games, Olympic historian Bill Mallon said. Of the USA's 20 total medals, half have been won by action sport athletes, including eight in the new disciplines.
Once upon a time, the anti-establishment kids in baggy pants wanted no part of being conformists, constrained by something so mainstream as the Olympics.
"We were all stoked to be in the Olympics," said Sage Kotsenburg, who kicked off the Games with a snowboard slopestyle gold. In the same breath he added that he's "super stoked" and "absolutely stoked" to compete in Sochi. "I think the world needed to see slopestyle. Because snowboarding is a different sport than figure skating or gymnastics. We're all really different and individual people, and this is what the kids are doing nowadays."
These Olympics have introduced a wider audience to slopestyle skiing, just as the American snowboard sweep in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games introduced the nation to halfpipe. (Halfpipe made its debut in the 1998 Olympics, but in the last Winter Games on U.S. soil captivated an American audience.) "The snowboarders enabled us to do what we do," said halfpipe skier David Wise, who won gold Tuesday. "They went before us, and we bring a whole new side to this sport."
After Jamie Anderson won gold in women's snowboard slopestyle, she was asked if the Olympics differ from the X Games.
"Heck yeah," she said. "It's the biggest stage in the world. X Games is the biggest event in action sports."
The Winter X Games have served as the scouting combine for the Olympics, introducing what's cool before it becomes trendy. "It's been awesome to watch slopestyle get a broader platform," said Tim Reed, ESPN's senior director of sports and competition and content strategy. Of course, slopestyle long has been one of the most popular sports in the X Games.
The goal is always to attract a younger demographic.
"They're sports that have a lot of youth interest in them," NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said about the new events before the Games. "They're very visual; they're very athletic. They seem to play well with a pretty loose, interesting group of people … They're not some robotic athlete just showing up and winning a gold medal. They've got personality. They've got some spark."