In the early days of freestyle skiing the sport was named for the "free" and creative element introduced by athletes who resisted traditional alpine and nordic skiing. Competitions included an all-in-one-run event where skiers were judged on a run that included ballet, moguls and a spontaneous aerial maneuver. Today the evolution of freestyle skiing is made up of six different disciplines; aerials, halfpipe, moguls, dual moguls, skicross and slopestyle. Each discipline is judged and scored to their own points list. Freestyle skiing was added to the Olympic program in 1992 for moguls, aerials in 1994, and skicross in 2010. Skiing halfpipe and slopestyle will debut in 2014 Olympic Games.
Aerial skiers soar themselves 50 feet or more into the air off a jump made of snow and land on a steep slope where snow is chopped for a softened landing. In the air athletes perform multiple combinations of intricate flips and twists. The jump that has the highest degree of difficulty performed is the "hurricane" thrown by Jeret "Speedy" Peterson- three flips and five twists, the second flip has three twists! Many athletes that compete in aerials were former gymnasts. Aerials were added to the Olympics in 1994.
Halfpipe skiers launch themselves out of the halfpipe performing a series of jumps, tricks and spins. Athletes are judged for their degree of difficulty, amplitude and execution of each trick performed. Currently halfpipe events are at the USSA, NorAm, and World Cup levels. Halfpipe skiing will make its debut in the 2014 Olympics.
Moguls skiers charge through a field of snowy bumps with one to two obligatory jumps that separate the course into sections. Skiers are judged for their technique, how well they perform their jumps, and speed. Moguls was added to the Olympics in 1992. In the Olympics athletes compete in single moguls while USSA, NorAm, and World Cup tours all have dual moguls events. Dual moguls are where competitors face off head-to-head, side-by-side, and the best skier advances.
Skicross is one of the newest Olympic and freestyle disciplines. The event course is a mix between traditional alpine racing and motocross. Each course has a variety of terrain features including rollers, banks, table tops, step downs, and pro jumps. Athletes compete in heats of four to six. The first person through the finish is declared the winner. The events are extremely exciting to watch due to the challenging courses, side-by-side competition, and the tight passing opportunities.
Slopestyle tests a skiers ability to handle a variety of terrain by executing freestyle maneuvers down a course. Each course is filled with features including rails, hips, table tops, and a variety of jumps allowing riders to combine big air and technical tricks into one run. Competitors are judged on amplitude, execution, difficulty of line, landings, and use of the course. Slopestyle will makes it's Olympic debut in 2014.