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Woods crowned New Zealand Freeski Open champion

Woods crowned New Zealand Freeski Open champion

James Woods admitted everything went exactly as he had hoped it would after being crowned New Zealand Freeski Open champion.

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History

Freestyle skiing is a product of America in the 1960s, when social change and freedom of expression led to new and exciting skiing techniques. Originally a mix of alpine skiing and acrobatics, freestyle skiing developed over the decades into the present-day Olympic sport.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) recognised freestyle as a sport in 1979 and brought new regulations regarding certification of athletes and jump techniques in an effort to curb the dangerous elements of the competitions. The first World Cup series was staged in 1980 and the first World Championships occurred in 1986 in Tignes, France, featuring moguls, aerials and ballet.

The emergence of the ‘new school’ events in freestyle in the late 1990s saw a new style of freestyle skiing begin to grow in popularity. Many skiers began performing tricks in the terrain parks, which were at the time reserved for snowboarders. The sport was originally referred to as new school skiing, and represents the events of Slopstyle and Halfpipe. The sport is also more appealing to younger generations and is similar in nature to snowboarding.

 

Olympic History

Freestyle skiing has only been a medal sport on the Olympic program since Albertville 1992, although it made its Olympic debut back in Calgary in 1988 as a demonstration sport. In Albertville moguls became a full medal sport, while aerials had to wait until Lillehammer 1994 for that status. Ski Cross was added to the Programme following Turin 2006.

Technical

Moguls

Skiers absorb the impact of the bumps by bending at the knees and hips. In a good run, shoulders remain parallel to the finish line, turns should be quick and short, and skis should not leave the snow surface, except at predetermined jumps.

To perform aerial manoeuvres, skiers hit two large jumps, placed one-third and two-thirds of the way down the run. Inverted moves are not permitted. Off each jump, skiers typically combine moves such as a spread-eagle, twister, helicopter, daffy, iron cross or backscratcher.

Aerials

In aerial competitions, athletes perform various combinations of flips and twists off snowpacked jumps as high as 4 metres (13 feet), with takeoff angles as steep as 70 degrees. Skiers choose a point on the in-run to begin, calculating the location carefully to attain the necessary speed to execute a planned manoeuvre. Concave aerial's ramps come in various heights - the smallest is used primarily for training.

The radius of the concave section of the big and medium jumps varies. The competitor chooses the one most suitable for the planned manoeuvre. Both men and women compete with multiple twisting somersaults.

Skiers will drop from a height equal to that of a three- or four-story building. The landing area has a 37-degree gradient and is covered in soft, churned snow to absorb the impact of the landings.

Ski Cross

Although new to the Olympic sport program, ski cross has existed as a sport since the early days of alpine skiing competition. The “mass start” appeal of ski cross, also seen in snowboard cross, sets the stage for fast and exciting competition.

The ski cross course, designed to test skiers’ skills, incorporates turns in a variety of types and sizes, flat sections and traverses, as well as rolls, banks and ridges similar to those found on a normal ski slope. Structures on the course resemble those found in snowboard cross events. Physical endurance and strength play a key role in ski cross as athletes ski four to five runs lasting 60 seconds or longer.

Halfpipe

The half pipe event is held on a half-cylindrical tube shaped into the snow. It is approximately 120-130 m long with a gradient of 16-17%. Using speed gained on the slope, snowboarders come up over the rim of the pipe to perform jumps, rotations and other mid-air manoeuvres or tricks. The object is to perform difficult manoeuvres with perfect form. Each athlete chooses a track of music to accompany the entire performance.

 

Slopestyle

 

Slopestyle involves competitors riding a course individually which involves jumps, rails and other technical features. Competitors aim to perform the most technical tricks whilst getting the highest amplitude from the jumps.

equipment

Skis for both freestyle events are markedly shorter than alpine skis to aid rotation. Aerial skis are also lighter, with the boots being fitted to assist with takeoff and landing. The standard ski length is 160cm with a narrow width and slight side cut.

For mogul skiing, the average ski length is 185cm for men and 175cm for women. Mogul skiers wear bright knee pads to show off absorption and leg position to best effect. This aids judges in observing how smoothly the athlete is taking the turns. The fashion statement was made famous at Lillehammer 1994 when Canada’s Jean-Luc Brassard wore bright green kneepads to help his cause.

For half pipe and slopestyle skiers use ‘twin-tip’ skis which enable them to land both forwards and backwards. Again they tend to be shorter than alpine skis to aid rotation.

Ski cross racers’ skis will be more like an alpine ski. The skis will be long and stiff to help competitors go as fast as they can.

rules

Moguls

The competitors can choose which of the 3 to 4 different lines they will ski down on the mogul course. The goal is to ski down the course as fast as possible, while performing two jumps without technical errors or temporary loss of balance.

The five ‘Turn' Judges award points on the quality of the skiers' turns and make deductions for technical mistakes, while the two "air" judges determine what jump was performed, how high they are off the jump, and the quality of the jump.

Each run is timed and compared to a pace time set for the course, with the fast skiers being awarded more points. The skier with the highest score in the final round wins.

Different mogul jumps include the 360 to 1080 degree spins, loops (side flips), off axis jumps, back and front flips and flips with twists. The jumps can have different grabs or holds of the legs or skis.

Slopestyle

During the slopestyle competition, competitors are looking to get the highest possible score.  To score points, riders must maneuver the course without falling and while performing the most difficult variety of tricks. Judges award points based on execution of the tricks, difficulty and amplitude.

Ski Cross

Not restricted by formal structures and formats, ski cross is part of the FIS freestyle discipline. The majority of competitors have an alpine skiing background.

A timed qualification run is used to seed skiers into different heats, of four skiers each. At the sound of the starting device, the athlete begins racing down the course. The start, as well as the first sections before the first turn, are critical parts of the course, as passing can easily occur here. While other passing areas are designated on the course, interference with other skiers can lead to an athlete’s disqualification.

Each race is limited to four starters. The top half of the finishing field then moves on to the next round in a series of quarter, semi and final rounds.

During each heat, the first two competitors to cross the finish line advance to the next heat, while the last two competitors are ranked based on qualification times. The “big final” round determines which athletes place first to fourth, while the “small final” determines those who rank from fifth to eighth place.

Halfpipe

There are five judges, each of whom examines the competitor on specific judging criteria: standard air, rotation, total judging of height and amplitude of manoeuvres, technical merit, incidental falls, overall impression. The 12 women and the 12 men who achieve the highest scores in the two qualifying runs progress to the final.

The final consists of two runs. The gold medal is awarded not to the person who has the best total score of the two runs, but the one who has the best individual run score.

Our Results

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Albertville 1992
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Salt Lake City 2002
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Turin 2006
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Vancouver 2010
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Sochi 2014
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