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Freestyle skiing 101: Equipment

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Freestyle skiing 101: Equipment

You know what skis are, but do you know how they differ between events?

Skis
The size and design of the skis vary by discipline.

Halfpipe and slopestyle skis have a "twin-tip" design, in which both ends of the skis (the tips and tails) are slightly bent up to allow for easier skiing both forwards and backwards (switch). The skis used by slopestyle skiers also have reinforced edges to withstand rails.



Joss Christensen at the 2014 Olympics

Twin-tip ski designs allow freeskiers to ride backwards, as seen here. (Pictured: 2014 Olympic slopestyle gold medalist Joss Christensen.) Credit: Guy Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

Mogul skiers use skis that are shorter than those used in alpine skiing. Aerials skiers use skis which are light and are usually shorter than the skier, which allows for better control on the sharp curve of the ramp and permits precise movement in the air.

Ski cross racers typically use giant slalom skis with softer tips and no regulation on length or side cut.



Marielle Thompson at the 2014 Olympics

An example of racing skis used in ski cross. (Pictured: 2014 Olympic ski cross gold medalist Marielle Thompson.) Credit: Guy Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

Poles
Used to aid the skier in accelerating, turning and maintaining balance.

Helmet
The use of helmets is required for all events. Made of hard plastic, used to prevent potential head injuries.

Ski suit
Ski suits for both moguls and aerials are chosen by the teams and afford ease of movement and sensitivity to function.

Ski suits for ski cross must be two pieces: pants and a separate top. Form-fitting speed or downhill suits are not permitted. The gap in the material must be a minimum 60mm, measured anywhere around the circumference of the mid-thigh, the knee, the top of the ski boot, on the lower body and around the elbow and the bicep on the upper body.

Goggles
Goggles are worn to improve visibility and protect the skier's eyes from snow, wind and sun. Lenses come in a variety of tints, with different tints being better-suited for particular weather and visibility conditions.

Boots
For aerials, normal ski boots are specifically fit to allow for a strong takeoff, good form and a solid landing.

Protection
Non-protruding body protection and padding is recommended (back, hips and arms). Protection equipment must be worn on the body. For ski cross racers, no straps, fastening devices or other methods can be used to tighten the suit material closer to the body.



Andrey Volkov at the 2014 Olympics

The blue knee pads on Russian moguls skier Andrey Volkov's uniform are intentionally designed to contrast from the rest of his legs. Credit: James Lang/USA TODAY Sports

Knee patch
In moguls, knee control is essential, so skiers' suits will often have a knee patch that is a different color from the rest of their pants. This is intended to draw the judge's attention to the skier's expertise.

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Freestyle Skiing

Everything you need to know about freestyle skiing at the 2018 Olympics

Basics | Judging | Glossary | Equipment | Qualifying | Olympic history

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