The Growth of Freestyle Skiing at the Olympics
As early as the start of the 20th century, there are records of people performing somersaults on skis in Europe. However it was in America, where flips and spins started to be attempted in the 1920s that freestyle skiing would really grow. In the 1960s developments in ski technology allowed for more progressive skiing styles, and a new approach known as ‘hotdogging’ emerged.
In 1979 the International Ski Federation acknowledged Freestyle as a discipline, and the first FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup was staged the following year.
Freestyle skiing first crossed paths with the Olympic Games at Calgary in 1988, when it was contested only as a demonstration sport, with mogul, aerial and ballet events for men and women. Mogul skiing would gain medal status at Albertville four years later, as would Aerial skiing at Lillehammer in ‘94. Ski Cross joined in 2010, and for Sochi 2014 the IOC approved the addition of Slopestyle and Half-pipe to complete the 5 freestyle skiing events which are now featured in the games…
Freestyle Trick Terminology:
Other names for freestyle skiing - freeskiing, freeriding, new school skiing
Switch – Riding backwards on skis, e.g. ‘riding switch’, ‘a switch 360’ – a 360 started from a backwards facing position.
Natural/Unnatural – A riders preferred way of spinning, either to their left or right, is their natural side. The opposite way is their unnatural side, e.g ‘natural 360’.
Cork/Misty – A spin which is performed ‘off-axis’, i.e rather that standing up straight whilst spinning, a skiers body will be on a 45 degree angle whilst spinning, e.g. ‘cork 360’.
Double/Triple/Quadruple – The number of times a skier rotates on an up/down axis in the air, whilst simultaneously spinning on a lateral axis. E.g ‘Double 1080’ 2 spins on a linear axis, whilst spinning 3 times on a lateral axis.
Grab – Placing a hand (or hands) on specific places on the ski (or skis). Some grabs are more technically difficult than others and would be rewarded with higher points in competition.
Pretzel – A complex move where a skier spins one way onto a rail, stops that rotation whilst on the rail and begins spinning in the opposite direction.
Stomped – A perfectly completed jump with a smooth, clean landing e.g ‘she stomped it ’.
Identifying Features of Freestyle Ski Events:
Kicker – Large ramp of snow which when skied up propels the skier into the air.
Landing – Area after a kicker with a steep gradient to allow skiers to return to earth smoothly.
Knuckle – The flat area in between the upward sloping kicker and the downward sloping landing, which skiers aim to jump over.
Lip – The very edge of the kicker.
Rail – A metal feature on a Slopestyle course, resembling a common railing with a flat or rounded top, which riders use to perform stylie smaller scale tricks.
Box – A flat surfaced feature on a slopestyle course, usually wider than a rail, which a rider can do tricks onto, on top of and off of to accrue points.
So if we said ‘James Woods just stomped a Tail Grab Switch Double-cork 1080’, you would now know exactly what we mean, right?
Maybe not so soon. However as with many sports, although things can seem overly complex at first, the more you watch, the deeper your appreciation of these incredible athletes grows. In the complexity and minute detail lies the fascination which is captivating more and more new fans each year. Could 2018 be the year Freestyle skiing really hits the mainstream for UK sportsfans?