Spotlight On: Freestyle Skiing

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Our ‘Spotlight On’ series features the sport of freestyle skiing, an increasingly popular form of skiing which first became a medal event at the 1992 Winter Olympics. At Sochi, five different disciplines of freestyle skiing will be medal events.

The Disciplines at Sochi

Moguls – Mogul skiing was the first freestyle skiing discipline to be introduced into the Winter Olympics as a medal event in 1992. The name refers to the series of bumps on the trail, which can be naturally occurring or artificially constructed. Skiers will use the moguls to help them to perform a series of jumps, turns and other tricks as they make their way to the bottom of the course. Points are awarded for turns, jumps and speed, meaning that tactics as well as skill play a large part in achieving the highest score possible.

Aerials – Unlike the moguls, aerial skiing is all about the jumps – time does not come into the equation. Instead, the skiers are judged on a series of factors: jump takeoff, jump form, and landing, with overall degree of difficulty then factored in. Aerials typically consist of two different jumps, with the competitor achieving the highest score over the two jumps awarded the win. There are two main forms of aerial competitions; in upright aerials, any jump where the skiers feet come higher than their head is deemed illegal, and is the more common form of the sport at junior levels. The more dangerous inverted aerials places no such ban on these jumps, allowing the competitors to complete twists and somersaults in a spectacular display. Aerials were introduced into the Winter Olympics as a medal event for the first time at Lillehammer in 1994.

Ski Cross – Ski cross was introduced as a medal event in the 2010 Vancouver Games, and although classified as a freestyle discipline, some argue that is should be a part of the alpine schedule instead. The debate comes from the fact that the event fuses alpine and freestyle skiing into one event. Created as a way to make ski racing more exciting, multiple competitors (typically four) race down the course at the same time. Although intentional contact is banned, collisions are common as racers battle for the best lines. Whilst the sport is essential a race, and thus more inline with alpine skiing, courses will typically feature jumps, banked turns and other features more commonly found in freestyle skiing.

Half-Pipe – The first of two new freestyle skiing medal events in Sochi, the half-pipe will be familiar to fans of a range of different X-Games. In the skiing variety, the pipe has walls of over 16ft in height which allow the skiers to build up a considerable amount of speed and link together a series of various aerial tricks. Competitors need variety, height on their tricks, a high degree of difficulty and excellent execution of the routine to pick up the highest scores.

Slopestyle – The second new discipline on show in Sochi, slopestyle takes place on a specially designed course which involves not only a variety of jumps but various other obstacles such as rails and boxes. Competitors are not only judged on the execution of their tricks but on their use of the course too, and therefore innovation as well as technical excellence is needed to impress the judges.

The X-Games Movement

The inclusion of Half-Pipe and Slopestyle as medal events at Sochi could potentially signal a new era for the Olympic Movement. One of the few criticisms of London 2012 was that it did not feature wide enough diversity in terms of the sports on show. Sports popular at the X-Games were conspicuous by their absence, and many believe that by incorporating these sports into the Olympic schedule, the Games will become more inclusive, more relevant and more engaging, particularly for a younger audience. By featuring Half-Pipe and Slopestyle, events popularised by the Winter X-Games, into the skiing programme at Sochi, we are perhaps seeing the first steps towards a more wide-spread integration of X-Games events across both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Wed’ze – Embracing Freestyle Skiing

Marie Martinod

Wed’ze have embraced the world of freestyle skiing, with technical partners within the freestyle world including Antoine Blanchi and Marie Martinod, who picked up the gold medal in the Superpipe event at the 2013 European X-Games in Tignes, which you can see in the video below.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/TXhmmll81io]

These partnerships help Wed’ze to develop products such as the Twintricks skis which are ideal for freestyle skiing enthusiasts. You can discover more about these partnerships and freestyle products on the Wed’ze blog, or you can discover the full range available exclusively at Decathlon on our website.

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