- Freestyle Skiing
Freestyle Skiing basics
- Men's moguls
- Women's moguls
- Men's aerials
- Women's aerials
- Men's ski cross
- Women's ski cross
- Men’s Halfpipe
- Women’s Halfpipe
- Men’s Slopestyle
- Women’s Slopestyle
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be returning with more exciting freestyle skiing events than ever before.
Moguls will be making its seventh consecutive appearance as a medal sport. The moguls event is and has been an essential to Olympic freestyle skiing, first making its debut as a medal event in 1992 following its appearance as a demonstration sport during the 1988 games.
Aerials took a similar route as moguls with regard to gaining Olympic acceptance. Following two showings as a demonstration sport in both 1988 and 1992, in 1994 aerials was officially welcomed as a medal event.
Ski cross returns, making its second Winter Games.
Debuting this year at the Sochi Games will be two new freestyle skiing disciplines: halfpipe and slopestyle. Halfpipe, on one hand, has been a long time coming as its snowboard counterpart gained Olympic acceptance back in 1998. Since then, skiers have been aching for a chance to lay their edges down in halfpipe for the chance at some Olympic hardware. Slopestyle, on the other hand, will be fresh for all this year as both snowboard and skiing will debut the discipline on the world’s stage.
American David Wise riding the Olympic halfpipe during the 2013 World Cup Test Event in Sochi, Russia.
Mogul skiers race down a slope over large uniform bumps, aptly called moguls. The length of the run in Sochi is 247 meters (810 feet). Scoring is based on how a skier makes high-quality, aggressive turns while remaining in the fall line (an imaginary line that combines the steepest pitch and most direct line, from top to bottom, of any slope). Skiers absorb the impact of the bumps by bending at the knees and hips. In a good run, shoulders remain parallel to the finish line, turns should be quick and short, and skis should not leave the snow surface, except at predetermined jumps. There are two jumps on every moguls run and competitors are scored on the maneuvers they perform off of those jumps.
Making its seventh consecutive appearance as a medal event at the 2014 Sochi Games, moguls first appeared at the Olympic Winter Games as a demonstration event during the 1988 Calgary Games before earning its place in Olympic sport history at the 1992 Albertville Games.
There has been no clear dominant country in moguls skiing, but Team USA has historically always been a competitor, finding a place on the podium each year between the men’s and women’s events, including the most recent Olympic showing where American Hannah Kearney claimed the gold. Will Kearney be the first freestyle skier to win back-to-back golds? Or will teammate Heather McPhie finally reach the Olympic podium setting up for a potential upset? Or will it be Canada's three Dufour-Lapointe sisters that ride out with the sweep? One thing is for sure, on the men’s side the Canadian force of Alexandre Bilodeau will be back to defend his gold in moguls and make himself the first to repeat gold. There is a lot of history in the making in moguls.
Embedded video_content_type: Hannah Kearney earns gold in women's moguls in Vancouver
A moguls run is based off of three key components each weighted to create the overall score including; turns worth 50 percent, “airs” accounting for 25 percent (both of these scores are determined by judges) and the final component of speed making up the remaining 25 percent. Since the 2010 Vancouver Games the format has changed to include a new “knockout round” between the qualifying and final rounds. Scores do not carry over between rounds. Men’s and women’s events are governed the same with the same number of athletes in competition.
For the qualification round 30 skiers take to the hill each allotted two runs. However, following the first round of runs the top 10 skiers automatically advance to the knockout round while the remaining 20 take their second run where only the top 10 will make up the rest of the knockout round field.
Consisting of 20 skiers, athletes complete one run with only the top 12 advancing to take a second run during the knockout round. Of those remaining 12, the top six advance to the final round.
This one-run round is where it all goes down. With only one run for each of the six athletes, once they all have taken their run the best score is declared the winner with medals awarded to the top three athletes.
Aerials is a unique one-hit event where competitors launch themselves off a jump — known as a “kicker” — and do a series of flips and twists in the air, before landing. Each jump is rated by a series of judges, taking into account the air, form and landing components of the jump, and then multiplied by the degree of difficulty to determine the score for that jump. Men's skiers reach heights of 50 feet, equal to a five-story building. The landing area has a 37-degree gradient and is covered in soft, churned snow to absorb the impact of landing.
Embedded video_content_type: Aerials: Anatomy of the Jump
Aerials was first introduced and contested as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Calgary Games along with moguls and ballet as the first-ever freestyle skiing events. In 1992 aerials was again contested as a demonstration sport. Then, at the 1994 Lillehammer Games aerials officially became the second freestyle skiing discipline to be added to the Winter Olympics program — ballet did not return.
At the 1998 Nagano Games Team USA took home gold in both men’s and women’s aerials, the only time in the event’s history that one country took home both gold medals. Although, as a whole there has never been one clearly dominant country storming the podium at each Games, in recent years Team China has proved itself as the force in the space. At the 2010 Vancouver Games China took home three of six medals, and this year during the World Cup events leading up to the Games they have shown a similarly dominant form. No country has ever swept a podium, but many are looking to China’s women’s team to be the first lead by world champion Cheng Shuang.
Going into the 2014 Sochi Games there are a lot of questions to be answered. From whether or not Emily Cook will finally win a medal on what will be her third trip to the Olympics to the lone American male aerialist - Mac Bohonnon - this year's World Cup rookie of the year - can show why he earned the award. Lastly, will the addition of the “knockout round” into the aerials competition format throw all the competitors for a loop like never before?
There will be a new spin on things for the aerialists competing in Sochi this year. In Vancouver, there were two rounds of competition, a qualification and a final, and athletes took two jumps in each round. The skiers were ranked according the total of their combined scores in each round. In an effort to make the event more exciting - despite how the athletes feel - a new knockout format will be in place for Sochi. While the new format has undoubtedly heightened the drama and added an element of strategy, there have been several complications. Men’s and women’s events are governed the same with the same number of athletes in competition.
The competition begins with a qualification round in which all athletes can complete two runs. In the first run of the qualification round, 25 skiers will take one run and are then ranked according to their scores. The top six ranked skiers advance directly to the knockout round. In the second qualification run, 19 athletes will compete for the remaining six spots in the knockout round for a total of 12 skiers.
In the first knockout round, the 12 aerialists will complete one run and the top eight scores advance. In the second knockout round, the eight athletes will complete one run and the top four scores advance to the final round. The athlete with the top score from his one run in the final round will be the winner. Scores never carry over and aerialists cannot repeat a jump in the knockout rounds.
Ski cross is an adrenaline-filled race where four athletes are pitted together on a tight course at high speeds each looking to gain an edge on the competition in order to get through the course first. With four skiers on a course spanning 3,678 feet and dropping 719 feet in elevation racing head-to-head through multiple turns — contact is inevitable (just think roller derby on snow). However, intentional contact by pushing, pulling or any other method that causes another competitor to slow down, fall or exit the course is grounds for an automatic disqualification. Unavoidable casual contact may be deemed acceptable. All contact infractions are at the discretion of the course judges and race jury.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi ski and snowboard cross course revealed
Ski cross made its debut at the 2010 Vancouver Games following the successful launch in 2006 of snowboard cross at the Torino Games. Although only in its infancy, ski cross has a bright future and has already shown a great amount of interest from both spectators and competitors, despite controversy regarding whether it fits best with freestyle or alpine skiing disciplines, considering many of the competitors are former alpine skiers.
With ski cross, the history is only as deep as the one Olympic event and yet to show any true trends of dominance. On the men’s side it was the Swiss Michael Schmid topping the podium, while Canadian Ashleigh McIvors, who's now retired, claimed the first gold on her home soil. Norway will likely be the country to watch out for in Sochi as they did manage a showing on both podiums in Vancouver. Then there is the solo American ski cross soldier of John Teller, who was the 2013 U.S. champion in ski cross and the first American to ever win a ski cross World Cup event.
The ski cross event consists of two parts: seeding runs and finals. The goal: be the first of four to successfully cross the finish line. Men’s and women’s events are governed the same with the same number of athletes in competition.
In the seeding runs, each competitor has one timed run to determine his position in the first round of finals. Since there are only 32 athletes in the men’s event, all athletes qualify for the finals.
In the finals, the 32 competitors are divided into heats, beginning with eight heats of four riders. The top two skiers from each of the eight heats advance to the quarterfinals. The third and fourth place skiers from each heat are ranked from 17 to 32 according to their qualification results. The top two skiers from each quarterfinal qualify to the semifinal heats. The top two skiers from each semifinal heat qualify to the final, which determines first through fourth place. The skiers ranked third and fourth in the semifinals qualify to the small final to determine fifth through eighth place.
Ski halfpipe will make its Olympic debut in 2014. In this event, athletes perform on a 22-foot tall U-shaped ditch carved out of the snow that will span 558 feet on freestyle skis, performing various tricks - somersaults, flips, grabs, and twists. The competition format includes qualifying and final rounds, with two runs per athlete in each round. Places are determined according to the total number of points in the final.
In Sochi, expect to see the action in the halfpipe to heat up once the Team USA’s squad storms the pipe. With athletes such as 18-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace, one of the most fluid halfpipe skiers in the world - he's entering the Olympics returning, as well as the composed and currently dominant David Wise, who has been the man to beat for the past two years if you want a win. On the women’s side watch for the ultimate comeback story come full circle in the form of Angeli VanLaanen on her return from Lyme disease on her quest for gold. In addition to VanLaanen, look for Americans Maddie Bowman and Brita Sigourney to come out swinging as the most dominant women known for riding halfpipe
Don’t forget to lookout out for the foreign threats in the halfpipe. France’s Kevin Rolland, two-time X Games gold medalist, and Canada’s Mike Riddle, 2013 overall Wold Cup halfpipe champion. Both Rolland and Riddle have been major hazards in competition with Rolland snagging two podiums (silver and bronze) during the recent U.S. qualifying events and Riddle grabbing a second at one as well, proving they are both ready for a top score at Sochi.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi halfpipe revealed
Men’s halfpipe will make its first Olympic appearance at the 2014 Sochi Games. It is one of two new freestyle skiing events on the Olympic program in 2014, with ski slopestyle joining as well. The IOC voted to include ski halfpipe to the Olympic program in April 2011 and ski slopestyle was added two months later. With the addition of these two events, freestyle skiing is tied for the third-most events of any sport on the Olympic program, with 10 (12 – cross-country, speed skating; 11 – biathlon).
The Olympic halfpipe format consists of a qualification and a final round. Men’s and women’s events are governed the same but consist of a different number of athletes during the qualification round of competition.
In the qualification round, 30 men or 24 women ski two runs and are ranked according to their best single run score. The top 12 skiers advance to the final. Scores from the qualification round do not carry over.
In the final round, the athletes take two runs and the best single score of the two runs counts towards the final results.
In slopestyle, skiers perform tricks as they move through a downhill course with features, such as rails, boxes, bumps and big jumps — a clean, controlled style paired with various tricks of technical difficulty is the key to success in this event. The features are designed in a way that athletes can select their own unique line through the course, which allows for both a variety of performances and strategy as the event unfolds and riders know what they must do to succeed.
The first-ever Olympic slopestyle course will be comprised of three jumps offering two sizes of kickers for variety and three rail feature sections that will allow for truly unique lines for each athlete. All of this will be spread throughout a course spanning 2,083 feet with a vertical drop of 495 feet. Judges will pay close attention everything from the technicality, variety and control of tricks as well as the use of the entire course and how well they land each trick without showing signs of mistakes.
Embedded owg_slideshow: New slopestyle course unveiled for Sochi Games
There are a great deal of key American athletes in slopestyle, any of which could snag the first-ever Olympic gold medal in their sport’s history including the 19-year-old Nick Goepper. Goepper will be easy to spot in Sochi, look for the only athlete not using ski poles and rocking a brace on one hand due to a broken hand sustained in New Zealand last summer that resulted in a screw in his hand. Goepper became the first American athlete to qualify for Team USA after coming in first and second at the first two U.S. selection events, respectively, proving to all that he is the man to beat. Although, there is the outside threat of Australian Russ Henshaw, who continuously proves as a competitor for the podium, and has found himself on a few as of late, along with Great Britain's James Woods, who's been predicted to win bronze. Following Goepper to the American team came Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy, both known for dominating with their consistency in slopestyle events.
Similarly recognized for her abilities, Devin Logan will be representing on the slopestyle course. Logan’s close friend, and eldest member of the slopestyle team, Keri Herman, 30, will likely be by her side on the podium. The question is, will it be the playful attitude of Logan or the experienced and spirited Herman on top? Don’t forget to keep a watch for the Canadians, Kaya Turski, who's returning from her third ACL surgery, and Dara Howell as they have been proving a challenge to the Americans in each event preceding the Sochi Games.
Slopestyle will make its first Olympic appearance at the 2014 Sochi Games. It is one of two new freestyle skiing events on the Olympic program in 2014, with ski halfpipe joining as well. After the IOC decided to include ski halfpipe in April 2011, it added ski slopestyle, in July 2011. With the addition of these two events, freestyle skiing is tied for the third-most events of any sport on the Olympic program, with 10 (12 – cross-country, speed skating; 11 – biathlon). The addition of ski slopestyle to the Olympic program in unison with its snowboarding counterpart is a large step for freestyle skiing as the last two additions only came as a result of their success in snowboarding.
There are no set points for individual tricks. Instead, it’s the judges’ overall impression of the run, which includes the sequences of tricks, the amount of risk in the routine, and how the rider uses the course. The judges also take falls, mistakes and stops into consideration. Scores are based on a 100-point system and the five judges’ scores are averaged to give the final score. Men’s and women’s events are governed the same, but consist of a different number of athletes during the qualification round of competition.
In the qualification round, 30 men and 24 women ski two runs and are ranked according to their best single run score. The top 12 skiers - men and women - advance to the final. Scores from the qualification round do not carry over.
In the final round, the athletes take two runs and the best single score of the two runs counts towards the final results.