Freestyle Skiing | Australian Olympic Committee
 

Australia and Olympic Freestyle Skiing

Freestyle Skiing developed as a combination of Downhill 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.

Australia has a strong history in freestyle skiing, having won medals at every Games since Salt Lake City 2002.

Alisa Camplin-Warner won Australia’s first freestyle skiing medal in 2002 with gold in Women’s Aerials. She followed this performance with bronze at Torino 2006. Five-time Olympian Lydia Lassila won gold at Vancouver 2010 and bronze at Sochi 2014. David Morris claimed the first men’s Olympic aerials medal for Australia at Sochi 2014 with silver.

Australia has two moguls medallists in Dale Begg-Smith (gold - Torino 2006, silver - Vancouver 2010) and Matt Graham (silver - PyeongChang 2018). We have also had a strong representation in women’s Moguls, Ski Cross and Ski Slopestyle.

There are seven freestyle skiing events included at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics; Aerials, Aerials Mixed Team, Moguls, Ski Cross, Freeski Halfpipe, Freeski Slopestyle and Freeski Big Air. It will be the first time we see Freeski Big Air and Aerials Mixed Teams events on the program.

Olympic History

The first Freestyle Skiing discipline to be added to the Winter Olympic schedule was Mogul Skiing at the Albertville Games in 1992, although both Mogul and Aerial Skiing made their Olympic debut back at Calgary 1988 as demonstration sports. Aerial Skiing had to wait until Lillehammer 1994 to be added to the program.

Women’s Aerials have been the particular strength for Australia. At Salt Lake in 2002 Alisa Camplin-Warner scored a total of 193.47 points 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.

Four years later in Torino, Alisa was on the comeback from serious injury and produced another sensational performance to take bronze. Jacqui, who had broken the world record in the preliminaries, finished eighth and this time it was tragedy for Lydia who shattered her knee in the preliminary rounds while in podium form.

Lydia made a truly fairy tale comeback at Vancouver 2010. Four years of hard work after the knee injury that ended her Torino campaign, she landed two outstanding jumps in heavy fog at the final on Cypress Mountain, to win with an Olympic record total score of 214.74. Jacqui finished in fifth place at her fourth Olympic Games.

Four years later and Lydia was on the podium again having won bronze but it was silver medallist David Morris who secured Australia’s best result at Sochi 2014. With a knack for pulling out his best when it matters most, David landed his jump in the four-man final before both Chinese competitors couldn’t stick theirs to ensure David claimed the first men’s Aerials medal for Australia at an Olympic Games.

Although an Aussie wasn’t on the aerials podium at PyeongChang 2018, dual Olympian Laura Peel recorded Australia’s best result with 5th place, while Lydia created history as the first Australian female to compete in five Winter Olympic Games, placing 14th.

In Mogul Skiing, Australia has been strongly represented by the men. The four-time Olympian, Adrian Costa, placed 14th at both the Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994 Games. Nick Cleaver’s 11th place at Albertville was the best Aussie result until Dale Begg-Smith crushed the opposition at Torino to become Australia’s third Winter Olympic gold medallist. Dale, who suffered a serious knee injury in 2009, returned to his birth town of Vancouver to attempt to defend his title at the 2010 Games. He finished with a final score of 26.58 to snag the silver medal, just behind local hero Alexandre Bilodeau on a score of 26.75.

Australia took its first full eight-skier mogul contingent to PyeongChang 2018. Matt Graham added to Australia’s Moguls success in Korea, winning silver behind the world’s most successful mogul skier, Canadian Mikael Kingsbury. Australia secured its best Olympic result in the women’s competition with debutant Jakara Anthony finishing 4th and triple Olympian Britt Cox in 5th.

Ski Cross made its Olympic debut at Vancouver with a strong showing by Australian skiers. Scott Kneller placed seventh in the men’s event, and Jenny Owens and Katya Crema both progressed to the quarter-finals in the women’s. Sami Kennedy-Sim improved on her Sochi 2014 result by 20 places at PyeongChang 2018, finishing in 8th place.

Ski Slopestyle made its Olympic debut at Sochi 2014. 23-year-old Russ Henshaw was Australia’s only slopestyle athlete when the discipline made its debut on the Russian slopes. Although he entered the Games under an injury cloud, Russ easily qualified for the finals where he finished in eighth place with a score of 80.40. Another injury put his second Games appearance in doubt just before PyeongChang 2018, however he received medical clearance in time to compete in the qualification round where he finished 19th.

Sport Format

Aerials

Aerial skiing involves skiers performing various acrobatic 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. There are five judges and each judge will provide raw scores; one set of raw scores for ‘air and form’ and another set of raw scores for ‘landing'.

The aerials competition consists of qualification (two jumps) and final (three jumps) phases.

The top six competitors from qualification jump one advance directly to the final. The remaining competitors perform a second jump and the athletes with the top six scores from either qualification jumps one or two advance to the final.

The 12 competitors in the final will all compete in final one and two.

The top six competitors after final two (the athletes with the six best jumps from either final one or two) advance to final three, the medal deciding round. Scores do not carry over to final three and the ranking in final three is based on the score from each athlete’s final three jump.

Aerials Mixed Team

This Aerial Skiing event is judged in same way as the individual event with five judges and each judge will provide raw scores; one set of raw scores for ‘air and form’ and another set of raw scores for ‘landing’.

However, the teams format is slightly different. Teams include three men and three women. The competition consists of two rounds (final one and final two). Each team member makes one jump in each in final one. The team score is equal to all the team members' scores. The top four teams from final one advance to final two. Scores from final one are not carried over to final two, the medal deciding round. The rankings in final two are based on the best team scores.

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 and two scoring the jumps, or air, competitor are also timed and receive a composite score weighted 50% on turns, 25% air and 25% speed.

There are two qualification rounds. In qualification one, the top 10 skiers will be seeded directly into the final. In qualification two, the remaining competitors will compete. Ten skiers advance from qualification two into the final. The better of an athlete’s qualification one or qualification two runs will be used to determine the last 10 competitors entered to the final.

There are three phases of finals. The first final phase will have 20 competitors. The top 12 will progress to the second final phase. From final two, the top six will progress to the third final phase. From this last final, the top three competitors will win the medals.

Ski Cross

Ski Cross athletes negotiate a course approximately 1000m long with turns and obstacles.

There are two phases in Ski Cross for each event: seeding and the final round. The seeding phase consists of timed runs, one athlete at a time, to populate a bracket of the top 32 men or 32 women.

The final phase starts with 32 competitors and consists of: 1/8 final, a quarter-final, a semi-final, a small final, and a big final. Each final has 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. The ranking at the finish of a heat is determined by the order of the competitors as they cross the finish line. The first three athletes across the line in the big final are the medallists.

Freeski 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.

In qualification competitors have two runs to qualify for the final and only the best score from their two runs will be used to qualify for the final giving each competitor a throwaway run.

Only the best 12 competitors make the final, these competitors are given three runs each to post their highest possible score and scoring is not cumulative offering competitors two throwaway runs.

Freeski Slopestyle

Freeski 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.

Competitors get two runs in qualifying. Each athlete’s score from their single best run is used to determine the top 12 that make the final.

In the final, finalists get three runs – with their best single score used to determine the medallists.

Freeski Big Air

Following the Olympic debut of Snowboard Big Air at PyeongChang 2018, Freeski Big Air is set for its Olympic debut at Beijing 2022. Unlike Freeski Halfpipe and Freeski Slopestyle, freeski big air athletes have one jump per run to earn as many points as possible. To achieve the highest score, skiers must stick the landing. Showing precise control and personal style will attract further points.

Six judges provide scores on each jump, with the highest and lowest judges' scores discarded (four scores count).

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final.

In qualification competitors have two runs to qualify for the final and only the best score from their two runs will be used to qualify for the final giving each competitor a throwaway run.

Only the best 12 competitors make the final, these competitors are given three runs each to post their highest possible score and scoring is not cumulative offering competitors two throwaway runs.

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