Perhaps it was the recorded-to-tape nostalgia, the rhythmic synths that owed a lot to yacht rock, or the impossibly ruffled wisps of mullets (both male and female), but this week the internet went crazy for a no longer-existent Winter Olympics event: ski ballet.
To add, this makes perfect sense. Ski ballet may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but once you view footage from actual ski ballet events from years past, you can’t help but be impressed by the raw athleticism and creativity on display. Ski ballet has a very “What the hell am I watching?” vibe to it.
Disciplines of Figure Skating and Skiing.
Ski ballet, to put it briefly, combines the disciplines of figure skating and skiing. Skaters-like dance moves would be combined with figure skating-style jumps, and skiers would use ski poles like vaulting poles to perform elaborate aerials (they would also wear shorter skis for easier mobility).
Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing into the 1990s, the sport peaked in popularity before officially dying out in the year 2000.
However, there are no adequate words to describe it.
Despite the fact that ski ballet was never an official event, it was showcased as a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games in 1988 and 1992. When you consider where it comes from, though, the fact that it was never recognised as such is astonishing.
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The Success of Alpine Skiing
At the beginning of the 1970s, the skiing community was split in two. In the wake of the success of regular alpine skiing, a new generation of competitors sought out methods to break with precedent. They devised freestyle skiing, also known as hotdog skiing, acrobatic skiing, and stunt skiing. Moguls, aerials, and ski ballet were all part of it.
From the pogo feats of the moguls to the vaulting acrobatics of the aerial segment, and finally finishing with more dance and flatland tricks on the little incline of the end of the race, these pioneers would descend the mountain in even more artistic ways.
It’s puzzling that, when freestyle skiing was separated into three sports, only two of them made it to the Olympics, but the third, ski ballet, didn’t.
All three freestyle skiing competitions in 1988 were exhibitions. While aerials and ballet were still considered demonstration events in 1992, moguls were a medal event. In 1996, ballet was no longer a sanctioned event and moguls and aerials were added.
The rise of snowboarding (the first Winter X Games were held in 1997) all but ensured the demise of ski ballet.
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In the year 2000, ski ballet was officially discontinued by the International Ski Federation. Though it tried to rebrand as acroski (pronounced like acrobat, not acrostic), the sport was never accepted into the Olympics.
Twitter’s reaction to the rediscovery of this fading memory suggests, however, that there could be a future viral drive to bring the event back.