Freestyle skiing

Last updated
Freestyle skiing
Highest governing body International Ski Federation
Olympic 1988 as demonstration event; regular competition since 1992

Freestyle skiing is a skiing discipline comprising aerials, moguls, cross, half-pipe, slopestyle and big air as part of the Winter Olympics. It can consist of a skier performing aerial flips and spins and can include skiers sliding rails and boxes on their skis. Known as "hot-dogging" in the early 1970s, [1] [2] it is also commonly referred to as freeskiing, jibbing, as well as many other names, around the world.



Ski acrobatics have been exhibited since 1906. [3] [4] [5] [6] Aerial skiing was popularized by John Rudd at the 1908 National Championship Ski Jumping Tournament in Duluth, Minnesota, [7] and again in the 1950s by Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen. Early US competitions were held in the mid-1960s. [8] [9]

In 1969, Waterville Valley Ski Area in New Hampshire, formed the first freestyle instruction program, making the resort the birthplace of freestyle skiing. The following year, Corcoran and Doug Pfeiffer, organized the first National Open Championships of Freestyle Skiing on the Sunnyside trails. In 1971, Waterville Valley Hosted the first Professional Freestyle Skiing Competition, which attracted freestyle skiing legends to Waterville Valley. Some of these competitors, such as Wayne Wong, Floyd Wilkie, and George Askevold, stayed at Waterville Valley as coaches of the first Freestyle Ski Team.

Legends of Freestyle Skiing 30th Anniversary March 8, 2001. Left to right: Paul O'Neill, Floyd Wilkie, Wayne Wong, George Askevold. Fathers of freestyle.jpg
Legends of Freestyle Skiing 30th Anniversary March 8, 2001. Left to right: Paul O'Neill, Floyd Wilkie, Wayne Wong, George Askevold.

International Ski Federation (FIS) recognized freestyle skiing as a sport in 1979 and brought in new regulations regarding certification of athletes and jump techniques in an effort to curb the dangerous elements of the competitions. The first FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup was staged in 1980 and the first FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships took place in 1986 in Tignes, France. Freestyle skiing was a demonstration event at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Mogul skiing was added as an official medal event at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, and the aerials event was added for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. In 2011, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved both halfpipe and slopestyle freeskiing events to be added to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. [10] [11]

Forms of freestyle skiing

Aerial skiing

Skier performing an Aerial Akrobatika Fristail.JPG
Skier performing an Aerial

Aerialists ski off 2-4 meter jumps, that propel them up to 6 meters in the air (which can be up to 20 meters above the landing height, given the landing slope). Once in the air, aerialists perform multiple flips and twists before landing on a 34 to 39-degree inclined landing hill about 30 meters in length. The top male aerialists can currently perform triple back flips with up to four or five twists.

Aerial skiing is a judged sport, and competitors receive a score based on jump takeoff (20%), jump form (50%) and landing (30%). A degree of difficulty (DOD) is then factored in for a total score. Skiers are judged on a cumulative score of LIMA two jumps. These scores do not generally carry over to the next round.

Aerialists train for their jumping maneuvers during the summer months by skiing on specially constructed water ramps and landing in a large swimming pool. An example of this is the Utah Olympic Park training facility. A water ramp consists of a wooden ramp covered with a special plastic mat that when lubricated with sprinklers allows an athlete to ski down the ramp towaРrds a jump. The skier then skis off the wooden jump and lands safely in a large swimming pool. A burst of air is sent up from the bottom of the pool just before landing to break up the surface tension of the water, thus softening the impact of the landing. Skiers sometimes reinforce the skis that they use for water-ramping with 6mm of fiberglass or cut holes in the front and back in order to soften the impact when landing properly on their skis.

Summer training also includes training on trampolines, diving boards, and other acrobatic or gymnastic training apparatus.

Mogul skiing

Moguls are a series of bumps on a trail formed when skiers push the snow into mounds or piles as they execute short-radius turns. Moguls can also be formed deliberately, by piling mounds of snow. In competitions, athletes are judged on their technique as well as on their speed by mastering the bumps in a calm yet aggressive way. Usually there are two jumps. In the early days the location was chosen by the competitors. Since the mid-1980s those jumps have become part of the official slope. While at the beginning only upright jumps were allowed, from the mid-1990s onward flips were added as an option. Moguls has become part of the Olympics since 1992. Canadian athlete Alexandre Bilodeau has won the Gold Medal twice: 2010 and 2014.

Ski ballet (Acroski)

Ski ballet, later renamed acroski (or "acro"), was a competitive discipline in the formative years of freestyle skiing. Competitors devised routines lasting 3 to 5 minutes and executed to music. The routines consisted of spins, jumps, and flips on a prepared flat course. For a short period of time (in the 1980s) there was also pair ballet competitions, a variation of ballet, where two people performed tricks that not only included spins, jumps and leg crossing but also lifts and sychronic movements and was similar to ice dancing. The routines were scored by judges who assessed the choreography, technical difficulty, and mastery of skills demonstrated by the competitors. Early innovators in the sport were American Jan Bucher, Park Smalley, Swiss Conny Kissling and German Hermann Reitberger. The first skier who performed a one handed pole flip in a world cup competition was German Richard Schabl in the early 1980s. Acro ski was part of the demonstration at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The International Ski Federation ceased all formal competition of this event after 2000 because they focused on both aerials (1990) and moguls (1992) for making it an Olympic discipline. [12]

Ski cross

Ski cross is based on the snowboarding boardercross. Despite it being a timed racing event, it is often considered part of freestyle skiing because it incorporates terrain features traditionally found in freestyle.

Halfpipe skiing

Halfpipe skiing is the sport of riding snow skis on a half-pipe. Competitors gradually ski to the end of the pipe by doing flips and tricks. It became an Olympic event for the first time at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.


In slopestyle, athletes ski or snowboard down a course including a variety of obstacles including rails, jumps, and other terrain park features. Points are scored for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks. [13] Twin-tip skis are used and are particularly useful if the skier lands backwards. Slopestyle tricks fall mainly into four categories: spins, grinds, grabs and flips. Slopestyle became an Olympic event, in both skiing and snowboarding forms, at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. [14]


Twin-tip skis are used in events such as slopestyle and halfpipe. Mogul skis are used in moguls and sometimes in aerials. Specially designed racing skis are used in ski cross. Ski bindings took a major design change to include plate bindings mounted to the bottom of the skiers boot to allow for multi-directional release. Ski poles are a staple in the all aspects of freestyle skiing, however, slopestyle athletes have more recently opted to ski without them in order to free their hands for grabs and other personal preferences in their riding.

See also

Related Research Articles

Kristi Leskinen is an American freestyle skier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Freeskiing</span> Type of alpine skiing

Freeskiing, or new school skiing, is a specific type of alpine skiing, which involves tricks, jumps, and terrain park features, such as rails, boxes, jibs, or other obstacles. This form of skiing resulted from the growth of snowboarding combined with the progression of freestyle skiing. "Newschoolers", or those who specifically ski in this style, as opposed to traditional freestylers, freeriders, big mountain skiers, and racers, are often found in terrain parks, which are designed specifically for tricks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ski cross</span> Type of skiing competition

Ski cross is a skiing competition which incorporates terrain features traditionally found in freestyle skiing with courses which include big-air jumps and high-banked turns. In spite of the fact that it is a timed racing event, it is often considered a type of freestyle skiing. What sets ski cross apart from other alpine skiing disciplines is that it involves more than one skier racing down the course. Any intentional contact with other competitors like grabbing or any other forms of contact meant to give the competitor an advantage leads to disqualification.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lydia Lassila</span> Australian freestyle skier

Lydia Lassila is an Australian Olympic freestyle skier gold medalist who competed in the 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympic Games. She is the 2010 Olympic champion and the 2014 bronze medalist in aerials.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Freestyle skiing at the Winter Olympics</span>

Freestyle skiing has been contested at the Winter Olympic Games since the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Slopestyle</span> Winter downhill sport discipline

Slopestyle is a winter sport in which athletes ski or snowboard down a course including a variety of obstacles including rails, jumps and other terrain park features. Points are scored for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks. The discipline has its roots in action sports like skateboarding and BMX and has very successfully crossed over into the snow sports worlds of skiing and snowboarding. Skiers use Twin-tip skis for their symmetry since they often go large portions of the course backward and for their balanced weight so as to not destabilize spins. Slopestyle tricks fall mainly into four categories: spins, grinds, grabs and flips, and most tricks done in competition are a combination of these.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarah Burke</span> Canadian freeskier (1982–2012)

Sarah Jean Burke was a Canadian freestyle skier who was a pioneer of the superpipe event. She was a five-time Winter X Games gold medallist, and won the world championship in the halfpipe in 2005. She successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have the event added to the Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics. She was considered a medal favourite in the event. Burke died following a training accident in Utah in 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mogul skiing</span> Discipline of freestyle skiing

Mogul skiing is a freestyle skiing competition consisting of one timed run of free skiing on a steep, heavily moguled course, stressing technical turns, aerial maneuvers and speed. Internationally, the sport is contested at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, and at the Winter Olympic Games.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Morris (skier)</span> Australian skier

David John Morris is an Australian aerial/freestyle skier who competed in 3 Winter Olympic Games in 2010, 2014 and 2018. He is Australia's most successful male aerial skier, having competed across FIS World Cup, World Championships and Winter Olympic competitions. He is the first Australian male aerial skier to compete at two consecutive Olympic Games, and the first Australian medalist in the Olympic Men's Aerials.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aerials water ramps</span> Water ramp training for snow ski

Water ramps into oversized pools, ponds, or lakes are constructed as training locations for aerial skiing, mogul skiing, and snowboarding acrobatics events. Such structures typically comprise three sections: in-run, a kicker, and a water surface for landing. They permit the practice of new skills with reduced risk, as the impact of a water landing is less dangerous than a comparable impact on compacted snow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aerial skiing</span> Freestyle skiing discipline

Aerial skiing or aerials is a freestyle skiing discipline where athletes ski down a slope to launch themselves off a kicker and perform multiple twists and flips before landing on an inclined landing hill. Aerialists are scored on their jumps based on air, form and landing with their score multiplied by the degree of difficulty of the jump they performed.

Ashley Caldwell is an American freestyle skier who has competed in aerials since 2008. Caldwell was named to the US team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in January 2010 after competing in the sport for only two seasons. The youngest in the event, she reached the finals of the Aerials. Caldwell won her first World Cup aerials event in the United States in Lake Placid, New York in January 2011, becoming the youngest freestyle female ever to win.

Keri Marie Herman is an American freestyle skier and US Olympian. She placed 10th in Slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games. She won a silver medal in Slopestyle at the 2011 Winter X Games XV in Aspen, Colorado, behind Kaya Turski. The following week, Herman took bronze at the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Herman now holds a total of 5 Winter X Games medals. 3 in Aspen and 2 from European X Games in Tignes, France. Keri Herman grew up in Bloomington, MN. She played ice hockey during her four years at Visitation High School as Center for the Visitation Blazers team. She moved to CO to attend the University of Denver where she graduated in 2005 with a BSBA in Finance and Marketing. She studied abroad for a semester at the University of Queensland, Australia. She moved to Breckenridge in 2004 where she has since lived, traveling around the world competing in Slopestyle and Halfpipe skiing events. In 2011, she was named to the first US Freeskiing Slopestyle team. Her sponsors are ROCKSTAR Energy, Scott USA, Breckenridge Resort, HEAD SKIS, US Freeskiing, Buff, Jiberish, and Discrete.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Big air</span>

Big air is a high-injury-risk sports discipline where the competitor rides a vehicle, such as a motocross motorcycle, a skateboard, a snowboard, or a pair of skis, down a hill or ramp and performs aerial tricks after launching off very large jumps. In most versions, there is one large jump and therefore only one opportunity to perform a trick. It is an extreme version of slopestyle. Competitors perform complex tricks in the air, aiming to attain sizable height and distance as well, all while making every effort to secure a clean landing. Many competitions also require the rider to do a specific trick to win the major prize. The term was coined by French-Canadians because of their love for the extreme nature of the event.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Half-pipe skiing</span> Sport of riding snow skis on a half-pipe

Half-pipe skiing is the sport of riding snow skis on a half-pipe. Competitors perform a series of tricks while going down the pipe. The current world record for highest jump in a half-pipe is held by Joffrey Pollet-Villard, with 26 feet 3 inches. The sport is considered to be dangerous compared to other sports, and helmets are required to be worn during competitions. Half-pipe skiing has been part of the Winter X Games since 2002, and made its Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. David Wise of the United States of America became the first Olympic champion in this discipline with a total of 92.00 points.

Freestyle skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics was held at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park near Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. The ten events took place between 6–21 February 2014.

James Woods is a British freestyle skier. He has won six medals at FIS World Cup and two medals at FIS World Championships

Ski ballet is a form of ballet performed on skis. It is very similar to figure skating, combining spins, jumps, and flips in a two-minute routine choreographed to music. It was part of the professional freestyle skiing tours of the 1970s and 1980s and then an official FIS and Olympic discipline until the year 2000. Ski ballet became known as Acroski in the 1990s in an effort to legitimize its place among the competitive ski community, especially to the FIS. It is no longer a part of competitive freestyle skiing.

The 2021 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships were held in Idre, Rogla, Almaty and Aspen with the ski and snowboard cross events held in Idre from 11 to 13 February 2021, the parallel and giant slalom snowboard in Rogla from 1 to 2 March 2021, moguls and aerials held in Almaty from 8 to 11 March 2021, slopestyle, halfpipe and big air events of both Snowboard and Freeski in Aspen from 10 to 16 March 2021. Calgary was selected as a replacement of China to host the halfpipe, big air and slopestyle events, but on 20 January 2021, they pulled out.

The following is about the qualification rules and the quota allocation for the freestyle skiing events at the 2022 Winter Olympics.


  1. Blackman, Ann (January 16, 1974). "'Hot-dogging' new form of skiing". Nashua Telegraph. (New Hampshire). Associated Press. p. 31.
  2. Kadleck, Dave (March 9, 1974). "World Hot Dog Cup 'boiling'". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. A7.
  3. Lund, Einar (1941) “The Somersault in 1906” American Ski Annual
  4. Lund, Morten; Miller, Peter (1998) Roots of an Olympic Sport: Freestyle Skiing Heritage Vol 10 #1: 11-20
  5. Hendrickson, Champion Fancy Ski Jumper [Wilmington] Evening Journal 1916-02-11 pg 17
  6. Tricks On Skis (1935)
  7. Matteson, Sumner (1908) National Ski Tournament Hearst's Magazine-World Today Vol 14 #4:400
  8. Miller, Peter (1973) Cult, Philosophy, Sport, Art Form: Freestyle Skiing is American Made Ski Vol 38 #2:47-49, 109, 111
  9. Levinson, David; Christensen, Karen (1999) Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present Oxford University Press ISBN   9780195131956 pg 360
  10. "Halfpipe Skiing Approved For 2014 Winter Olympics". Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  11. "Slopestyle Skiing Approved for 2014 Olympics". Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  12. Johannes Knuth: Wie Olympia das Skiballett zerstörte. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29. Dezember 2016,
  13. "Slopestyle". Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  14. "Slopestyle Approved For Sochi 2014". Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2011-10-15.