I’ve learnt so much about the Winter Olympics in the past fortnight. A few days ago, a friend of mine showed me an Instagram video posted on the official Olympics account. It featured Sharon Petzold of the United States in the ski ballet event. Ski ballet is a type of ballet performed on skis, similar to ice skating but on snow rather than ice. It features spins, flips, and jumps, all choreographed to music. It started as a sport in professional freestyle skiing tours before becoming a FIS (Fédération internationale de ski or International Ski Federation in English) and Olympic discipline. Its status and initial popularity earnt it a place at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics as a demonstration sport. Unfortunately, it never got promoted to an official medal sport and declined in popularity as a result. In a bid to raise its profile, ski ballet was renamed Acroski in the 90s but the FIS and Olympics called it quits and there were no more Acroski competitions after 2000.
Some of the best known Acroskiers include:
- Lane Spina – winner of the men’s demonstration event in Calgary in 1988 and Albertville in 1992
- Rune Kristiansen – gold medallist at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships 1995, winner of 38 World Cup meetings, and 8-time Norwegian champion in the 80s and 90s
- Richard Schabl – FIS World Champion in 1986 and inventor of the one handed pole flip
- Christine Rossi – silver medallist at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships 1986
- Jan Bucher – 3-time ski ballet medallist at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships (gold in 1986 and 1989; silver in 1991)
And a fun fact via that Instagram video: Olympic silver medallist Devin Logan competed in ski ballet when she was 6!
More on ski ballet: Remembering the lost art of ski ballet, a Winter Olympics tradition, In Praise of Ski Ballet, the Sport That Combined Snow and Puffy Sleeves, and 9 Magical Ski Ballet Videos That’ll Make You Wish It Was An Olympic Sport