Since 1992, when it first competed in Albertville, France, freestyle skiing has been a part of the Winter Olympic Games. The responsibility for overseeing the sport and winter sports like snowboarding, ski jumping, and Alpine skiing remains with the International Ski Federation.
To control what they deemed a risky sport and discourage individuals from developing even more challenging aspects and stunts, the Federation decided to designate the freestyle skiing discipline.
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Skiing’s Freestyle History
There are records of people practicing somersaults at ski slopes in Austria, Italy, and Norway in the early 20th century. In the US, skiers started performing flips and spins in the 1920s, and by the 1930s, stunt skiing was starting to take shape.
Technological advancements aided the development of novel and acrobatic skiing skills in ski equipment, freedom of change, and societal changes. One of the most famous skiers who used these acrobatic tactics is the Norwegian Stein Eriksen.
Two medals in the alpine skiing division were awarded to Eriksen in the 1952 Olympics. For one event, spectators paid $1,000 to see Eriksen play. In Attitash, New Hampshire, the Ski Masters competition was held in January 1996.
Skiers competed in freestyle moves in addition to predefined tactics. In the years that followed, freestyle skiing drew an increasing number of fans, and skiers adapted fashionable methods and air time. Hot dog skiing is the term used to describe this act.
Skiing Freestyle and the Winter Olympics
At the Calgary Olympics in 1988, freestyle skiing made its Olympic debut as a demonstration sport. Unofficial competitions in ballet, aerials, and moguls were held, and these events were seen more as entertainment than sports.
When moguls were included as a medal discipline in the Albertville games in 1992, they were given official status. Ballet and aerials were demonstration sports until 1994, when aerials became an official sport at the Lillehammer, Norway, Winter Olympics.
Ski cross, moguls, and aerials
A contestant in aerial sports flies over one jump that is 40–50 feet high after gliding down a very modest hill. Before landing, the skier will display a variety of flips and twists. Each trick has a specific level of difficulty assigned to it.
Scores for competitors are based on takeoff, jump form, height, and landing. The winner is then determined by multiplying the score by the degree of difficulty. During qualifying, each skier competes in two jumps.
A steep slope with significant bumps is a common component of a mogul course.
The contestant will often choose between three or four lines as they sprint down the hill. The mounds force the skier to quickly shift directions with their bottom body while keeping their upper body facing directly down the mountain.
Along the course, two bigger bumps provide enough lift for a skier to execute two jumps, such as spins, slides, or twists. Two air judges evaluate the feats for height, form, and degree of difficulty.
A ski cross course will have obstacles, straightaways, curves, and banking that skiers must navigate as they race down. The competition, which features four skiers at once, is exciting and intense.
The US and Canada have won eight gold medals in freestyle skiing along with seven silver medals. After Belarus and Switzerland, each with three gold medals, Australia comes in second with three gold and two more silver medals. Norway and France each have two gold medals.