The art of freestyle - part 1
Freeze, films and freestyle - get inspired to take your skiing and riding to new heights
You don’t need to know your misty flips from your octograbs to realise that Freestyle skiing has become a massive part of the ski industry, and one of the most visible faces of modern skiing.
Whether you’re wanting to hone your freestyle skills for competition, or up until now have kept your plank(s) firmly in contact with the snow, there has never been a better time to get involved in freestyle skiing and boarding.
While indoor and dryslope facilities give UK skiers and boarders an introduction to the sport, it is often the captured-on-celluloid (or more likely HD video) exploits of top-level freestyle athletes that inspire and showcase the rapidly evolving freestyle scene.
The UK Freeski Film Festival took place on 27 October at Sheperds Bush Walkabout, London. Eight films over six hours covered ground from the environmentalism meets freeskiing vibe of Sherpas Cinemas’ All.I.Can to the urban-jibbery and stratospheric jumps of Poor Boyz Productions’ The Grand Bizarre. What all films did have in common however, was their attempt to not just document the sport, but to capture the spirit of freeskiing and present it in an increasingly cinematic language. When high-tech cameras, helicopters, Red Bulls’ bulging wallet and the talents of gravity-defying halfpipe ninja Simon Dumont collide, the result is mind-blowing scenes such as The Grand Bizarre’s ‘Red Bull Cubed’ segment.
With a 32m high kicker taking shape next to the iconic husk of the Battersea Powerstation last weekend, Londoners had the chance to see some of the worlds’ best in the flesh. The ‘Battle of Britain’ on Friday afternoon set the scene for two days of spectacular freestyle competition. Ski Club-sponsored skier James Machon took bronze, with Andy Matthews and James Woods claiming second and first respectively. James ‘Woodsy’ Woods in particular showed that UK riders rank amongst the very best, landing an impressive double cork 12.
The International Ski Big Air on Friday night brought a packed field of freestyle superstars to the big air kicker. To get an idea of just how quickly big air and slopestyle has changed, tricks that would have won this competition 4 years ago are now almost pre-requisites for making the final 16. As the finalists were whittled down to just four, eventually it was antipodean Jossi Wells who was victorious.
Saturday night saw snowboarding take centre stage, with Finland’s Janne Korpi winning the international snowboard Big Air, which has risen in prominence and prestige becoming part of the official FIS World Cup calendar.
A sell-out crowd of 15,000 for the Freeze Festival is clear evidence that plenty of punters are drawn to the visual spectacle of such freestyle events, confirmed by the addition of ski halfpipe and slopestyle to the 2014 Winter Olympic programme.
Events such as the Winter X-Games have been instrumental in exposing freestyle skiing and boarding to a broader audience, but the inclusion of further freestyle events at Sochi 2014 (the more alpine racing-oriented Skicross and Boardercross were introduced at Vancouver 2010) will no doubt spark further growth.
With the opportunity to represent their nation and claim Olympic Gold, freestyle athletes are starting to build towards Sochi 2014, and a number of Uk athletes are set to make an impact on the world stage.
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