Mountain Sports

What is Slopestyle?

Slopestyle course

Slopestyle is a kind of freeskiing that is very popular in the regions of the United States and Canada. It is essentially a fun combination of snowboarding and skiing. This sport involves jumps, tricks, and other attention-grabbing stunts. And even though it holds great importance now, it took a long journey to achieve this status.

In this article, let’s learn everything about this sport that inspires thousands of people to compete each year in the Olympics.

Invention of Slopestyle

In 1920, freestyle skiing was introduced for the very first time. Young aspirants would spend most of their time in parks trying to achieve expertise in this unique sport. It was quite challenging and required the utmost skills and undivided attention. It involved jumps and different tricks that left the observers in a state of shock.

Even though freeskiing is hard enough, many passionate skiers didn’t stop there. After they successfully gained skills of freeskiing, they invested their time figuring out other tricks to make their performance even better. When they couldn’t get to the designated practice area, they would sneak in parks and try new things by incorporating untraditional moves to the already-tricky sport of freestyle skiing.

One of these athletic youngsters was Skogen Sprang, who later became the transformer of this sport. He would go into the snowboarding parks with his gang and practice new stunts using everyday objects like rails, ramps, pipes, and whatnot.

One problem that puzzled these athletes was the design of traditional skis. It curled up in the front, thus ensuring a proper landing. But on the other hand, there was no support on the back, and skiers had no liberty for backward landing. Sprang wanted a ski with curls on both sides so that he could perform all his acts with maximum ease. And fortunately, he wasn’t the only one having that dream.

The coach of a Canadian team, Mogul, also wanted a unique ski for his skiers. One of the park intruders, Douglas, helped him design a new and better version of traditional skis. They built up a model and contacted several companies asking if they could help them. Luckily, one of the manufactures agreed to produce this masterpiece. Soon, a new model of skis was introduced in the market named twin-tip skis.

This solved all the problems of passionate skiers like Sprang and Douglas. Finally, they were able to perform their favorite moves with perfect balance. This was the beginning of the sport which we now call slopestyle.

How it Got Famous?

With the introduction of new and improved skis, more people started to realize the importance and popularity of this sport. A lot of them made a routine of visiting the parks where they observed the teenagers trying to perform complex tricks with their skills. Soon, slopestyle was given a separate entity.

Even though it had no recognition on any professional platform, the youth still had a great time playing around in the parks. They arranged small competitions and leagues of their own to promote this sport on a smaller scale. After many street leagues, it was time for slopestyle skiing to shine in a bigger platform.

The First Championship

The very first open slopestyle championship of the United States was arranged in 1998. This event was organized in Colorado with the new twin-tip skis as the equipment of choice. Many youngsters who developed their skills of freeskiing by trespassing in the parks of snowboarders became the official team members. And the teenage boy, Sprang, who spent most of his time practicing this skill, became the coach for the professional US team.

This is how an all-time famous street sport received long-awaited gratitude and appreciation. Now, every year freeskiers compete in the winter season of the Olympics to get awarded.

The Gender Inclusiveness

At first, the sport of slopestyle skiing was only limited to male skiers. No female in the field would compete against the rest. This portrayed a picture of slopestyle as a male-dominant sport.

But thankfully, a Canadian skier, Sarah Burke, shattered this image when she tried her level best to initiate a freeskiing program for females. She nagged the organization for a long period, and finally, her efforts paid off when a separate female league was formed in 2009. This event proved to be a turning point in the field of slopestyle.

Scoring Criteria in the Winter Olympics

Each year, many athletes participate in the Winter Olympics to achieve the level of expertise in their favorite sport. They perform several acts and showcase their talent in front of a judging team. Later, they get scored based on their skill level. There are different aspects that determine whether a skier is good enough or not. The criteria on which these athletes get judged are given below:

1. Difficulty

As discussed, slopestyle is all about adventure. The more difficult trick an athlete performs, the better chances he has of winning.

It is like a competition of entertainment. If you present something old or dull, no one would be impressed. But if you perform your heart out and try new tricks that can push the observers on the edge of their seat, now that’s the kind of difficulty that makes you a slopestyle champion.

2. Execution

Difficulty combined with perfect execution results in the perfect move. The judges observe every gesture and impression of the participant very closely. If there is a lack of execution, even the best tricks get flimsy and uncomfortable. Therefore, it is necessary to not only design a good move but also execute it professionally.

3. Variety

This is another important aspect of slopestyle. No one wants to see the same trick over and over. For an attention-grabbing performance, variety is significant. When the athlete transits from one move to another, it delivers a message of dedication and well planning. This is why the judging committee has made this a separate criterion for scoring.

4. Progression

For any field of life, progression is important. Just like how freeskiing was transformed into a better version of slopestyle, similarly, the newcomers in the field must take this skillset to a new level.

Therefore, every act is judged based on how a participant is trying to push forward the sport. So, when a participant performs an entirely new trick, they get some special points for that.

5. Amplitude

Every performer is also judged on the amount of height or the air he reaches during his stunts. It is determinant of how skilled that person is. It is an important aspect of slopestyle and thus included in the main scoring criteria. The higher one jumps, the more point he gets.

6. The Flow of the Performance

Athletes are judged by the flow of their moves. An athlete must continue his tricks with a transition but no stops. One can say that slopestyle is like a dance; if you pause after every beat, you lose the essence of performance.

No matter how skilled a person is, if he cannot present his moves in a presentable manner, he cannot assume himself to be a champion.

7. Overall

Lastly, the overall look of the performance determines the winner. In this particular aspect, everything is judged based on the cohesiveness and structure of the whole act.

Conclusion

Slopestyle is a new branch of freeskiing that involves tricky jumps and complex moves. It is performed using a special ski that is curled up at both ends. Youngsters first introduced this sport as a street game, but later it got quite popular everywhere.

Each year, in the Olympics, many athletes compete to win the title of best slopestyle skier. The winner is decided based on different aspects of his performance and criteria that we have already mentioned above.

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