Freestyle Skiing

Australia and Olympic Freestyle Skiing 

Australia has a strong history in freestyle skiing winning medals at Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010.

Women’s aerials have been the particular strength throughout this time. It began when Kirstie Marshall placed sixth in women’s aerials at Lillehammer 1994.

At Salt Lake City in 2002, Alisa Camplin from Melbourne scored a total of 193.47pts in the final to become the Olympic aerials champion and also Australia’s first skiing gold medallist. The Salt Lake Games also saw tragedy when, in the week before the competition, Jacqui Cooper shattered her knee in training. It also saw the arrival of a young Lydia Lassila (then Ierodiaconou) who placed eighth in the final.

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Olympic History

Freestyle skiing has been a medal sport on the Olympic program since Albertville 1992, although it made its Olympic debut back in Calgary in 1988 as a demonstration sport. In Albertville moguls became a full medal sport, while aerials had to wait until Lillehammer 1994 for that status. In Vancouver in 2010, ski cross was added as an event for both men and women. In Sochi 2014, ski slopestyle and ski halfpipe joined the program.

Sport Format

Freestyle skiing developed as a combination of alpine skiing and acrobatics in America in the 1960s. The International Ski Federation (FIS) recognised freestyle as a discipline in 1979 and brought in new regulations regarding certification of athletes and jump techniques in an effort to curb some of the dangerous elements of the competitions.

Aerials

Aerial skiing involves skiers performing various acrobatic and gymnastic moves in the air after elevating from a snow-packed kicker (ramp). There are different kickers for different jumps and skiers choose which ramp best suits their specific needs. Each jump receives a score out of 30 gained from a split points system which awards 20% for air, 50% for form and 30% for landing. The total is then multiplied by the jump’s degree of difficulty rating to produce the final score.

The aerials competition consists of qualification (2 jumps) and final (3 jumps) phases. There are 25 men and 25 women competitors. The top 6 competitors from Qualification Jump 1 advance directly to the final. The remaining 19 competitors perform a second jump. The top 6 from Qualification Jump 2 also advance to the final.

The 12 competitors in the final will run in reverse order of their qualification rank. The final is divided into three jumps, points are not carried forward. The top 8 competitors from Final 1 advance to Final 2. The top four competitors from Final 2 advance to Final 3 where the medals are decided. The ranking in the final is based on the scores from each jump.

Moguls

The moguls competition consists of a run down a 200m plus slope evenly covered with round bumps known as moguls. There are also two jumps to complete on the course. Competitors are judged by a panel of seven judges, with five assessing turns (worth up to 15 points) and two scoring the jumps, or ‘air’ (worth up to 7.5 points). The remaining element of the score (also worth up to 7.5 points) is determined by the speed of the run.

There are two qualification rounds. In Qualification 1, the top 10 skiers will be seeded directly into the final. In Qualification 2, the remaining competitors will compete with the next top 10 skiers being seeded into the final to round out the 20 finalists.

There are three phases of finals, with all competitors starting in reverse order in each phase. The first final phase (F1) will have 20 competitors. The top 12 will progress to the second final phase (F2). From F2, the top 6 will progress to the third final phase (F3). From this last final, the top 3 competitors will win the medals.

Ski Cross

There are two phases in ski cross for each event: the qualification round and the final round. There are 32 men and 32 women competitors who negotiate a course approximately 1000m long with turns and obstacles.

In the qualification round all competitors ski one timed run, alone on the course. The time determines the qualification ranking and competitors start in the same order for both runs.

The final round is based on 32 competitors and consists of: 1/8 final, a quarter-final, a semi-final, a small final, and a big final. There are four skiers per heat and the first two skiers to finish advance to the next round. The competitors are placed in first round heats (1/8 final or quarter-final) based on their qualification round rank. Ranking at the finish of a heat is determined by the order of the competitors as they cross the finish line. In the case that more than one competitor does not cross the finish line, the competitor who made it the farthest down the course receives the better ranking. The first three athletes across the line in the big final are the medallists. If two or more competitors have an unbreakable tie (photo-finish) in the medal round, they are both awarded the same medal.

Ski Halfpipe

One competitor at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, flips, twists and other manoeuvres on a halfpipe. The athletes are judged on their take-offs, the height they reach above the top of the pipe, and difficulty of their manoeuvres.

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.

In the qualification phase there are 30 men and 24 women. Competitors start in a random order, each completing 2 runs with the score from their best run deciding the ranking. 12 skiers advance to the final where they each ski two runs. In each run, competitors are run in reverse order of their ranking.

Ski Slopestyle

Slopestyle courses feature rails, jibs, hips and a variety of jumps allowing skiers to combine big air and technical tricks into one run. Competitors are scored in an overall impression judging format on amplitude, execution, difficulty of line, landing and use of the course.

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.

In the qualification phase there are 30 men and 24 women. Competitors start in a random order, each completing 2 runs with the score from their best run deciding the ranking. 12 skiers advance to the final where they each ski two runs. In each run, competitors are run in reverse order of their ranking.