Free skiing: The sport that go can go anywhere

Tom Waddell Columnist

By Tom Waddell, Tom Waddell is a Roar Expert New author!


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    A Freeskiing mute grab - by Richyw - Creative Commons

    Free skiing. A sport were basically anything goes. It’s one the most creative sports in the world where anything can happen, and people are open to take the sport in any direction they feel works.

    Free skiing has evolved heavily over the past 20 years. It all began with a bunch of teenagers who were tired of coaches restricting them from what they wanted to do off the jump at the bottom of the mogul course.

    Those guys broke free from these conventions. built their own jumps and started doing tricks tagged with their own unique style. This quickly caught on with a whole generation of skiers and snowboarders who were eager to show that there is another, new side of the sport that needs to be explored and performed for the world.

    Today, the sport has evolved into a complete circus. Whether it’s an amazing show and groundbreaking enterprise, or the worst thing ever depends on who you talk to.

    Whether you like it or not, there are so many different paths available for free skiers to follow. You can be a competition athlete that wants to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a jump or halfpipe to win a gold medal, and a hundred thousand dollar contract. Or you can be someone that likes to film and show their own style through pictures to people. There are those that do both, or something else entirely.

    This year the sport has really started to take shape. With the introduction of slopestyle and Halfpipe skiing to the Olympics, there’s change in the air.

    Most people within the skiing community agree that this has been one of the best things that has happened to the sport.

    It is a chance for people to show their skills on a world stage, and to prove to people that Shaun White isn’t the only human that throws himself at ridiculous heights through the air.

    However, there are still a lot of people divided on this move, and question whether this is the right direction for the sport. This position is understandable, as this sport was built around fun first. But with mainstream media attention and more non-endemic sponsors moving towards the sport, there’s a question of how long until the sport starts selling out.

    When will be the time when it’s all about the competitions and there is no more room for people to express their creativity through this sport. Almost everyone has a different answer to this question.

    For someone like me who is trying to make their way to the top of the sport, I have seen many different paths open up over the past three years of what’s possible to be achieved.

    Being from Australia already makes things difficult, as most of the competitions and sponsors are based in America and Europe. However there is a rising number of talented athletes coming through in the southern hemisphere between Australia and New Zealand.

    While it mightn’t be widely known at home, these countries already have athletes who are some of the best in the world. It’s being widely recognised by the northern skiing community.

    For someone like me to head to the US to find some decent competition results can take a lot of time and money, however the chance of being able to make this sport your job, and to do it as long as possible makes it all worth it.

    But it just isn’t me. This is happening all over the world. Each year people from the ages of 15 through to 30 show up to competitions all having the same dream and goal. They want to make it as one of the best in the sport, whether that’s as an athlete who loves to combine slopestyle jumps tricks with skiing a big mountain line, to a slopestyle skier who wants to win a competitiojn and have the chance to be competing with the best in the world, this sport has a ridiculous amount of different paths going for it.

    The best thing is it’s all up to the athlete to decide what they can do with it.

    Thomas Waddell is a professional freeskier currently residing in the USA. He will be giving us his unique insights into this unique and growing sport in his coming columns

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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • November 28th 2014 @ 11:06am
      Beaujolais said | November 28th 2014 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      Nice one Tom!

      While the Olympics has brought skiing and snowboarding into the collective limelight somewhat, I think this is only a temporary blip in the general decline of the circus that is the Olympics. The Olympics itself has grown stale, a mega marketing event of such huge proportions that sensible winter countries like Norway, Sweden, and Germany are choosing not to bid for it anymore. Kudos to them. Now it seems only despotic and undemocratic countries are bidding. Thredbo 2022 anyone?

      And for freestyle events, Sochi was a travesty.

      Anyway, it’s not really about the sport anymore when the broadcasts on telly choose to endlessly repeat emotive background pieces about a limited number of favoured and photogenic competitors rather than screening actual snowsports competition.

      Another part of the problem is that the Olympics is changing the nature of these new events, like slopestyle. The bigger the courses get, the more generic they get. Now it’s all jib-jib-jib, boot-boot-boot, smile, hoot, and wave… It’s all too choreographed. The gymnastics comparisons that some people make are apt. Somewhere, the fact that snowsports are done outdoors on variable mountainous terrain got forgotten.

      Tony Hawk had the right idea by saying that the olympics needs skateboarding more than skateboarding needs the olympics.

      And yet skiing is still a fantastic sport, so please Tom, write more about it and your experiences of it! Good luck with it on the slopes 🙂

    • November 28th 2014 @ 7:50pm
      Hog said | November 28th 2014 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

      Good read mate, spent a few years at the snow. And it’s one sport that TV does not do it justice

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • November 28th 2014 @ 7:50pm
      Hog said | November 28th 2014 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

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