Freestyle Skiing at PyeongChang 2018

Venues: Phoenix Snow Park

Competition Dates: February 18-21, 24-25 (Days 9-12, 15-16)

Events: 10 (5 men, 5 women)

Freestyle skiing is divided into five disciplines, four of which include a judged component as skiers are evaluated on their technical skills.

Jenn Heil (Vancouver 2010)

In moguls, skiers travel down a course of snow bumps, performing two aerial tricks as they go. The quality of the turns through those bumps is most important, scored by five judges and accounting for 60% of the final score. Two more judges mark the quality of the two aerial tricks and their technical difficulty for 20% of the score. The time it takes for a skier to get down the course makes up the final 20%. Competition begins with a qualification round, from which skiers advance to a three-stage final that cuts the field from 20 to 12 and finally the six skiers who compete for the medals.

Freestyle Skiing - Aerials

In aerials, skiers perform some of the most difficult acrobatic maneuvers in any sport, with up to five twists and three flips while in the air for just three seconds. Five judges evaluate each jump. The air (which includes the takeoff, height and distance) is worth 20%. The form of the skier in the air is worth 50% while the landing of the jump makes up the last 30% of the score, which is then multiplied by the jump’s degree of difficulty. Competition begins with a two-jump qualification round, from which skiers advance to a three-stage final that cuts the field from 12 to nine and finally the six skiers who compete for the medals.

In halfpipe and slopestyle, a panel of five judges, each scoring out of 100, evaluates each run on its overall impression, taking into account the amplitude and style as well as the diversity, difficulty and execution of the tricks. The judges’ scores are then averaged. Competition begins with a best-of-two-run qualification round, from which the top 10 men and top six women advance to the best-of-three-run final. Halfpipe takes place in a sloped channel of snow while slopestyle skiers go down and over a series of rail and jump features.

Marielle Thompson (middle right) and Kelsey Serwa (middle left) fly through the air before finishing 1-2 in ski cross.

Ski cross is the lone freestyle event without a judged component. It is all about speed as skiers race four at a time down a course comprised of various features such as banks, jumps, rollers and turns. Competition begins with a timed qualification run to seed the competitors into single elimination heats. The top two in each heat advance to the next round, until just four competitors remain to race in the Big Final for the medals.

Canadian History (pre-PyeongChang 2018)

Canada has a long history of excelling in freestyle skiing, with 18 Olympic medals won since the sport’s official debut at Albertville 1992. Nine of those came at Sochi 2014, the most by any country.

Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe celebrate after winning gold and silver medals

In moguls, Alex Bilodeau won his second straight gold medal, edging out teammate Mikaël Kingsbury. There was also a gold-silver finish in the women’s event where Justine Dufour-Lapointe shared the podium with older sister Chloé. That was matched in women’s ski cross where Marielle Thompson won gold ahead of teammate Kelsey Serwa. Another double podium came in women’s slopestyle, with Dara Howell winning gold while Kim Lamarre claimed bronze. Rounding out the medals in Sochi was Mike Riddle with his halfpipe silver.

Sochi Olympics Freestyle Skiing

Canada’s first Olympic freestyle skiing medals were won at Lillehammer 1994 where Jean-Luc Brassard won moguls gold while Philippe LaRoche and Lloyd Langlois captured aerials silver and bronze. Another shared podium followed at Salt Lake City 2002 where Veronica Brenner and Deidra Dionne also won aerials silver and bronze.

Brassard, Jean-Luc

At Turin 2006, the star was Jennifer Heil with her moguls gold. Four years later she won silver at Vancouver 2010, where Ashleigh McIvor won the first ever Olympic gold in ski cross.