Freestyle Skiing dates back to the 1930s when skiers started to become more experimental with their movement on skis. Stunt skiing began to take off and this escalated to acrobatic exhibitions. These exhibitions were not events that were part of competitions or the Winter Olympic Games, yet.
In 1996, the Ski Masters was the first actual competition that included acrobatic performances. The biggest part of the competition required skiers to perform predetermined maneuvers, and the rest of the event was dedicated to acrobatic skiing or Freestyle Skiing.
Freestyle Skiing Becoming Part of Competitions
This acrobatic form of skiing continued to become more popular through the years. Skiers attempted more and flashier ways to go down moguls. They incorporated jumps, air time, and stylish maneuvers, like turns and dance movements, into their downhill runs. This showmanship gained the term “Hot Dog Skiing”.
The first competition for Hot Dogging took place in 1971. Skiers took turns to run down a large mogul hill performing the most entertaining stunts they could muster. The scoring was done through watching the crowd’s reaction and the loudest cheers. The loudest cheers were oftentimes given to skiers that recovered from a spectacular crash.
Somersaults, somersaulting tricks, and jumps becoming higher and larger, were becoming a prominent feature. Aerial Acrobatics started to attract skiers from all over, and in 1972 competitions started to attract the attention of still more skiers.
In 1979, when the FIS recognized Freestyle Skiing as an official sport, the rules became stricter. Required movements became more controlled and precise.
Freestyle Skiing Events
Six Freestyle Skiing Events are currently included in the Winter Olympic Games. These six events are Aerial Skiing, Ski Cross Skiing, Moguls, Halfpipe Skiing, Big Air Skiing, and Slopestyle Skiing.
Skiing off a ramp that propels skiers into the air, participants perform multiple twists and somersaults before landing on a sloped landing hill. Skiers are awarded points for form, time in the air, and landing.
This is a relatively new addition to skiing competitions and is based on maneuvers performed by motor bikers in the Moto Cross discipline. Skiers race down together on a snow course to determine the winner.
A 200m long slope, covered evenly with rounded snow mounds, called moguls, are set for skiers to race along. The best navigation of these moguls will ensure a win.
A halfpipe structure made out of snow is used to perform tricks for points.
Big Air Skiing
Competitors launch themselves off a very large jump and perform tricks in the air before landing. This is the extreme version of Slopestyle Skiing.
The participant aims to get the highest amplitude in a jump and then perform different types of the most difficult tricks before landing. Instead of doing one trick repeatedly, the higher they jump, the more tricks can be performed.
These events might change every year with the evolvement of the sport. Events may change, or incorporate new moves. From the time that Freestyle skiing first made its appearance at the Winter Olympics in 1988, only as a demonstration sport, until now, lots of changes occurred.
In 1992, Freestyle Skiing became an official sport, and each following year, changes to which events are in and which events are dropped in competitions still happen.