||This article may contain original research. (April 2012)|
Freeskiing, or Newschool skiing is a specific type of skiing. It is a subset of Freestyle skiing, although many participants view it as a separate sport and do not refer to it as freestyle. The sport does not require participants to compete, but there are competitive events available at every level of the sport. There are currently two Olympic freeskiing events, Superpipe and Slopestyle. These events make up two of the four Olympic freestyle skiing events.
The sport has seen continual growth since its inception in the late 1990s. An entire industry has been created with this rapid popularization. As a result of this growth, there is currently a growing number of professional freeskiers. Most are highly competitive skiers, usually specializing in a certain freeskiing discipline. There are however professional skiers who do not compete, and rather produce and star in videos.
Freeskiing or Newschool skiing involves tricks, jumps, and terrain park features, such as rails, boxes, jibs, or other obstacles. This form of skiing resulted from a combination of the growth in popularity of snowboarding as well as the progression of Freestyle skiing. "Newschoolers", or those who specifically ski in this style (as opposed to traditional freestylers, big mountain skiers, racers, etc.) are often found in terrain parks, which are designed specifically for tricks.
In the 1990s freestyle skiers, discouraged by restrictive laws placed on the sport by the International Ski Federation (FIS), began trying their tricks in what were at the time snowboard-only terrain parks. Early newschool skiers were very aware of the developing style and attitude of snowboarding, and adopted these for their own sport. The Newschool Skier is related more to the snowboarder in his/her style than to the traditional skier's style.
The FIS freestyle skiing events were governed by restrictive rules that were unpopular in the growing ski community, and slowed down the progression of the sport. Such rules included a ban on inverted tricks in mogul runs, a limit on the number of flips in aerial competitions, and a lack of ski park or pipe competitions. The "Newschool" movement was a breakaway faction of the freeskiers who were unhappy with the FIS.
The breakaway faction was led by the New Canadian Air Force, which included the "Godfather of freeskiing", Mike Douglas, and others such as JF Cusson, Vincent Dorion, JP Auclair and Shane Szocs. Also contributing significantly in these early days were Julien Regnier and "the Three Phils", namely, Phil Larose, Phil Belanger and Phil Dion, all of whom were teammates at Dynastar. After helping Salomon develop their first twin-tip ski, the "1080", the New Canadian Air Force began jumping and filming in traditionally snowboarder dominated terrain parks.
In recent years, many ski resorts have introduced terrain parks where skiers and snowboarders can attempt tricks. These parks include many features like rails, boxes, jumps, hips, quarterpipes, and halfpipes. It is now quite common for 'Newschool' skiers to use urban features in towns and cities to perform tricks also done in the snowpark. A popular choice of equipment for this terrain is the twin-tip ski. Twin-tip skis come in all shapes and sizes, and were originally made specifically for newschool skiing. The varieties of twin-tip skis are now more versatile, being marketed towards skiers of all styles and abilities. Twin-tip skis are turned up at both ends to allow for both regular (forwards) and switch (backwards) skiing.
In 2007, the formation of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP), created a unified global tour of competitions and ranking system for freekiing athletes. Created as a unified voice for the athletes, the AFP organized freeskiing competitions in slopestyle, ski half pipe and big air disciplines under consistent guidelines of AFP sanctioned judging and format standards. This calendar of AFP sanctioned competitions and the AFP rankings serve as a roadmap for emerging talent in the sport, event organizers, coaches, nations, and the general public in regard to the sport of Freeskiing. Since 2008 the AFP has named World Champions in each discipline for men and women. The Overall World Championship is awarded each year to the best combined ranking in all disciplines (excluding big air for women). In 2012 the AFP changed the name of the Overall World Championship trophy to the Sarah Burke Trophy in honor of the fallen women's skiing pioneer Sarah Burke who died tragically in a 2012 skiing accident in Utah.
On April 6, 2011, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the addition of the men's and women's ski halfpipe and slopestyle events to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Olympic status for ski halfpipe is expected to have a direct impact on the training, funding, and resources available to athletes. In January 2011, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association launched U.S. Freeskiing in partnership with The North Face, which would presumably supply Olympic uniforms.
Any skiing outside the prepared or marked trails is referred to as backcountry or off-piste skiing. This form of skiing is probably the most mortally dangerous (depending on where and how you do it) because of the high speeds, large drops (sometimes with hidden rocks in the landing), and avalanches. This type of skiing has been banned in certain areas of the world because of chances of injury and/or death. Backcountry skiers consist of both newschool skiers who perform tricks off various terrain features, and oldschoolers as well.
Park is skiing on man-made features provided by the ski area such as jumps, rails, boxes, and halfpipes. According to Freeskier's 2010 Travel Guide the top resorts in North America for park are Breckenridge, Mammoth, Aspen/Snowmass, Park City, Poley Mountain, Centennial Park, Whistler Blackcomb, Alivia, and Mount Snow
Urban skiing consists of sliding or grinding your skis on rails, ledges, etc. outside of ski resorts/areas. Urban has much more of a risk factor than regular park skiing due to harder terrain. You can spot urban features in such ski movies as Level 1's "Eye Trip" and Poor Boyz Production's "Revolver".
"Core" Ski Manufacturers
There are many relatively small companies that have supported and greatly added to the progression of Newschool Skiing. These companies make skis specific for Newschool Skiing. Line is believed to be the first newschool skiing company, and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2005. In 2006, Line was bought by K2 Sports, although they are still widely considered a "core" brand because there were no large changes in the design process or goals of the company. Other popular freeski-specific manufacturers include Armada http://armadaskis.com/, ON3P http://www.on3pskis. com/, Epic Planks http://www.epicplanks.com/ and Coreupt.
Involvement of global ski manufacturers
Within the last decade, traditional ski brands such as Atomic, Salomon, Rossignol, Völkl, Fischer and Head have embraced the newschool revolution and are producing twin tips of their own. Now, most of the popular and larger ski companies produce many twin-tipped newschool skis. The K2 Poacher was the first mass-produced twin tip ski to hit the market however the Salomon 1080 is considered to be the first commercially successful mass-produced twin tip ski. Dynastar's Concept and Rossignol's Pow Air were early offerings in response to Salomon success.
Media production companies
Video production studios Teton Gravity Research, Matchstick Productions Level 1 productions and Poor Boyz Productions have been popular since the sport evolved in the 1990s. There is also a growing number of smaller independent media groups which have found great success by using social media outlets.
The freeskiing community has a strong online presence. The two major outlets for the community are Newschoolers.com and the Teton Gravity Research online forums. Newschoolers is generally more appealing while Teton Gravity gears towards an older audience of skiers.
Core Ski Manufacturers
Major ski brands with freeskiing specific lines
Clothing Manufacturers with freeskiing specific clothing
Freeskiing requires at least three pieces of gear. Skis, Ski Boots and Ski Bindings. In addition to this, many skiers choose to use poles, goggles, ski clothing and safety gear such as helmets and avalanche gear. Almost everything used by freeskiers is designed specifically for use in freeskiing rather than ordinarry ski gear.
Types of skis
There are three kinds of newschool skis: Powder, All-Mountain and Park.
Powder skis, also called big-mountain or backcountry skis, have a wide waist width, making them ideal for places with heavy powder. That extra surface area helps skiers to float above premium powder. However, they can be difficult to use on slopes with less snow or groomed trails, especially for beginning to moderate skiers. More experienced skiers—and those with some extra cash—sometimes buy powder skis as an alternate pair, to be used when conditions warrant it. True backcountry skis have a waist width of 90 to 110 millimeters, while powder skis are easily the widest type of ski, measuring from 110 to 140 millimeters
All Mountain Skis
Most Alpine skis fall into this category. Because the majority of skiers don't have the luxury of lugging around several sets of skis to match that day's conditions, All-Mountain skis are designed to perform in all types of snow conditions and at most speeds. Narrower All-Mountain skis are better for groomed runs, while wider styles handle better in powder and cruddy conditions. Other names for this style of ski include Mid-Fat skis, All-Purpose skis, and the One-ski Quiver.
Park skis are often designed with a more symmetrical shape to make switch (backwards) skiing much easier and reinforced edges to withstand rails. Eric Pollard designed the first two symmetrical skis, the Anthem and the Invader, although he was not given much credit because the Invader was of poor build quality. Pollard now has his own pro model skis from Line skis called the EP Pro (Mr. Pollard's Opus - 2012), The Elizabeth and The Sir Francis Bacon. Some new powder and all-mountain skis are created with 'reverse camber' (aka 'rocker') meaning that the tips and tails are bent up slightly to make powder landings easier.
There is a heavy emphasis on fashion in the freeskiing industry. Stand alone brands such as Saga, Jiberish, or Lethal Descent are very popular among skiers. Many independent ski manufacturers such as Armada also release outerwear lines. There are also offerings from large, non freeskiing specific brands which have lines geared specifically to school skiing.
- Spin on
- When a skier spins around before landing on a rail, generally done in increments of 180 degrees starting at 270. (e.g. 270,450 630)
- Spin out
- When a skier spins at the end of a rail, generally done increments of 180 degrees starting at 270. (e.g. 270, 450, 630)
- Switch up
- while sliding a rail the skier jumps and turns 180 degrees so they end up sliding the rail in the opposite direction. Also called "swap" or "sex change". Can be done "frontside" or "backside/blindside"
- A front switch up blind 270 out. Higher increments of spin are called "Super-Fed", "Super-Duper-Fed", "Future-Fed" and "Super-Future Fed" for spins out of 450,630,810 and 990 respectively.
- A blind switch up front 270 out
- Gap over one kink on a kinked rail
- Both skis on the rail feature, parallel to the feature
- The most basic of jump tricks, a skier spins upright while airborne in increments of 180 degrees. Often abbreviated as just the first number for spins below 1000 degrees and the first two numbers for spins above 1000 degrees (e.g. two full spins, or 720 degrees of rotation is abbreviated to "7" while a 1080 is abbreviated to "10").
- A flip thrown sideways with a spin
- A flip thrown forwards with a spin
- Lincoln Loop
- A flip thrown directly over ones shoulder, like a cartwheel in the air
- Flat Spin
- A flip that is thrown over your shoulder, it is in between a backflip, and a lincoln loop.
- Backwards thrown off-axis spin, at no point should your feet be over your head
- Forwards thrown off-axis spin, at no point should your feet be over your head
- Used to say something such as a skiers style, or a particular trick, were visually appealing or "steezy". "Steeze" is a portmanteau of "style" and "ease". Example: "Man, that flip you did was steezy" or "You have killer steeze"
- A common complaint in the ski community when a competition is won by performing more difficult tricks, with less emphasis on style or perfection
- The act of participating in an event where one's skill far exceeds that of the intended group. A professional competing in an amateur competition would be said to be "Sandbagging" the competition.
- Solid Seven
- A derogatory term used to say something was not visually appealing
- "Can you tell me how to get to chad's gap?"
- A phrase used by newschool skiers to identify each other on or off the ski hill
- A derogatory term used for inexperienced skiers with little knowledge of ski etiquette or culture
- Cool Story Hansel
- A largely antiquated term used by newschoolers to inform another skier that they don't really care what they have to say.
- An effortless looking and balanced landing
- Two or more skiers hitting a single jump at or near the same time so that at least two people are airborne at the same time.
- Someone doing a trick on a smaller jump than is usual for the trick ("He hucked a 1080 on that tiny jump") OR someone attempting a trick with a large amount of uncertainty success ("She had never tried a rodeo before but she just hucked it")
- Future Spin
- A spin trick, where the skier spins so many degrees, that the number exceeds the year (To successfully land a future spin at this day in age, a skier would have to spin 2013 degrees or more (closest land-able rotation would be 2160 degrees).
- Similar to "stomping" a trick, this is when, after landing a trick, the skier nonchalantly absorbs the impact (legs loose but close together, arms relatively stiff, typically one hand in front and one in back though they are not restricted to these locations) while leaning back and proceeds to ski away in this reclined position. The emphasis is again to appear to have exerted little effort at all regardless of the difficulty of the trick; the body language must appear natural and untensioned, lazy even.
- Mark Abma
- JP Auclair
- Ingrid Backstrom
- Noah Bowman
- Bobby Brown
- Sarah Burke
- Simon Dumont
- Tanner Hall
- Russ Henshaw
- Eric Hjorleifson
- Kristi Leskinen
- Shane McConkey
- Seth Morrison
- Jonny Moseley
- Jon Olsson
- Glen Plake
- Sean Pettit
- Sammy Carlson
- Mike Riddle
- TJ Schiller
- Candide Thovex
- Kaya Turski
- Tom Wallisch
- Torin Yater-Wallace
- C. R. Johnson
- David Zingg
- "IOC approves ski Halfpipe for 2014 Olympics". April 6, 2011.