Olympic Big Air: Forget Halfpipe, Start By Replacing Freestyle Aerials

As all freestyle events have come to a close and with the Olympics packed up and out of town, it is inevitable to hear the possibility of future ski pipe.  An article written by Derek Taylor brings a unique view to the future ski disciplines involved within the Olympics.

“While it seems almost a foregone conclusion that it will happen by 2018, if not 2014, I personally feel that would be a mistake.”

Newcomers to the topic may wonder how harm could come from the involvement of ‘newschool’ skiing, it is feared that like Aerials and Moguls ski pipe could become to judgmental essentially ruining the sport.

“Aerials and mogul—both once freewheeling, hot-dogging expressions of creativity—have become stagnant and un-evolving. Moguls only adapted 10 years ago because Jonny Moseley, the X Games, and the new freestyle movement essentially forced them to.”

The sports, that were once ‘carefree’ to say and solely based on having a good time have turned “stagnant.”

Moguls has been infiltrated and taken over by jocks; let’s face it: When, since Moseley, has moguls skiing had a champion who is a true ambassador of skiing? Jeremy Bloom is a football player and an underwear model, and Toby Dawson retired from skiing after winning bronze in 2006 in hopes of taking up golf.  Freestyle aerials, quite simply, has become a sad bastardization of gymnastics put to snow. Freestyle skiing was first recognized by FIS in 1979, and only given full-medal status in 1988. Considering the mass migration of athletes from traditional freestyle to the pipe in the late 90s, it’s apparent that it didn’t take long for FIS to ruin what Bob Burns, Wayne Wong, Eddie Lincoln, et al worked so hard to create. With that in mind, we should be very wary before we concede the pipe.”

To solve this ongoing issue Derek Taylor suggests that  “Rather than give up control of yet another discipline, lobby the IOC to give us back one that they have already ruined. In short, replace freestyle aerials with big air.”

However quite un reasonable, unfair and unaccommodating it is a interesting concept taking aerials ‘back to its roots’.

Like many of the Olympic sports they are extremely specialized.  For example bobsledding,  ski jumping and aerials.  The participation levels in a big air style contest infinitely larger.  How often does one even see a perfectly maintained 90 degree aerialist jump let alone be allowed to train on it.

“In order to participate in traditional freestyle aerials, you need to join a team, attend a special school, or sign up for a camp at places such as the Utah Olympic Park. Yet the majority of ski areas have terrain parks where anyone can learn big air. As a discipline, it is much more accessible to the common skier.  The sport has gotten so specialized; it only caters to people pursing that specialty. The scoring and rules are so regimented, there is little room to expand the degree of difficulty or innovate. The blame falls squarely on the FIS.”

To many Aerials can appear completely different to big air, don’t get me wrong it is quite however the difficulty and amount of rotations are quite similar.

“They are performing three flips and up to five rotations per trick. However, they are taking off forwards and landing forwards on all tricks. And the basics are still the same: setting and resetting rotations.  Bobby Brown’s gold-medal winning tricks at the Winter X Games featured two inversions and four rotations. T.J. Schiller’s perfect score features two inversions and four and a half rotations.

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The progression in X – games this year’s contrasts that of Aerials.   A great example of how stale Aerials has become can be demonstrated by seemingly insignificant progression

The winning trick in this year’s Olympics might feature one more rotation than Bergoust had 12 years ago. There’s no guarantee that FIS won’t screw up big air the way they messed up aerials. But by replacing aerials with big air, they are at least hitting the reset button. And in 10 years, if they’ve managed to not screw the pooch this time, then we should trust them with half pipe.”

For the full article check out Powder Magazine

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