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Basics of Freeski Slopestyle Competition
Freeski Slopestyle is a judged sport. Athletes complete individual runs attempting to impress with a variety of tricks, spins and flips in qualification.
Skiers completes two runs, but three in the final. The best run counts in each phase. The course must have a minimum of six distinct sections, three of which must be jumps. And while design varies from course to course there will always be three rails and three jumps.
The rails are at the start of the course, with the jump sections closing out the competitors’ runs. The rail sections are typically where athletes are able to exhibit most creativity. A well rounded slopestyle run shows variety on rails with trick variations like lip slides and pretzels and switch ups.
The jump comes in different shapes and sizes. The most common is referred to as a kicker--a jump with a straight wedge shaped takeoff, followed by a tabletop gap of between 15 and 25 meters long before a flattened tabletop drops away to a steep landing.
Slopestyle course design continues to evolve, leading to continued creativity and variation in the jumps constructed. There are three ski slopestyle events for both men and women of the Olympic Winter Games, and the criteria used to judge are execution, difficulty, amplitude, variety and progression.
Spins are measured in degrees 180, 360, 540 up to 1800 half spin rotations like 270, 450, and 630 often come into play in tricks. Progression over the last couple of seasons has seen 1620 and 1800 degree spins become almost commonplace in men's slopestyle competitions.
Performing a grab is extremely important to the execution of a trick. A missed or weak grab will score negatively. Well-executed grabs are held throughout the majority of the trick.
An athlete must perform a wide range of tricks on a wildly diverse range of features. They use vision and creativity to plot the best possible run. Adjusting their speed and edging to utilize the course and make that vision a reality.