Ski ballet combined puffy neonsnowsuits and awkward ski poles with the grace of ballet. What’s not to love? A nice montage awaits you, above. X
What in the world was that? That, my friend, was ski ballet, a delicate and confusing admixture of figure skating, freestyle skiing, and jazz hands. Freestyle skiing became popular in the 1970s as a trick-centric alternative to traditional Alpine skiing. Whereas Alpine ski racers are scored on their times, freestyle skiers get points for style and flair. For years, ski ballet—also known as “acroski”—was a full-fledged competitive freestyle skiing discipline, alongside aerials and moguls. In competitions, ballet skiers had 90 seconds to perform their acrobatic routines set to music. They were judged on the quality of their flips, jumps, rolls, and, apparently, puffy sleeves.
Do people still do this? Not really—at least, not intentionally. Ski ballet was a demonstration sport at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, but the IOC apparently failed to see the athletic merit in the discipline, and declined to make ski ballet an official Olympic sport. After that crushing defeat, worldwide interest in ski ballet tailed off, concurrent with the rise of new freestyle skiing disciplines like ski cross and slopestyle.