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FREESTYLE

Freestyle is something of the wild child of skiing. Of course, it’s the same terrain, in other words snow! But freestyle improvises, adds a bit of spice to skiing. Fast? Not necessarily. A course set in stone? Definitely not! Freedom of expression? Absolutely!
Whether we’re talking about expert, competitive or leisure freestyle, the keywords for everyone are pleasure, freedom, creativity, invention and, above all, style!
A choice of terrains and disciplines
Mogul skiing
Mogul skiing is the father of freestyle. It first became an Olympic medal event at the Albertville Games in 1992, when Edgard Gropiron took home gold. At the time, it was called acrobatic skiing, and it became really popular in France. Since then, the sport has changed a lot but mogul skiing is still the main freestyle discipline. Competitive mogul skiing is performed on a steep run, around 250-metres in length, covered with metre-high moguls. The course includes two jumps (or kickers) that launch the skier into altitude. If you want to try it yourself without joining a ski club, you can go to Menuires, Tignes or La Clusaz, which all have their own mogul runs. Otherwise, you’ll always find somewhere to practice on the good old red or black pistes that are covered in natural moguls!
Big Air
The Big Air is a snow jump designed to propel the riders high in the air! The inrun leads to an enormous (and terrifying!) mound of snow which gives the riders enough momentum to ‘kick’ high in the air. Then comes a flat surface, generally called the Table Top, followed by a slope which descends enough to ensure riders get a smooth landing. From the height of the jumps, to the rotations, positions and styles, this is a really spectacular sport where anything goes. And the level is improving every year. Many resorts have one or several Big Air structures in their snowparks adapted to a range of publics. There’s no question of attempting the kicker unless you’ve learnt the basic tricks first though. Some resorts have installed an airbag at the bottom of the Big Air jump, so you can throw a trick without worrying about crashing down on your nose!
Halfpipe
The halfpipe is a half cylinder course of snow with steeply sloping sides. Skiers and snowboarders cross from wall to wall, executing a series of manoeuvres and tricks using the walls to gain momentum and height.
The discipline has become an extremely popular competitive sport as the series of acrobatic leaps make for fascinating viewing. Half pipe snowboarding made its Winter Olympics debut in Nagano in 1998, and in 2014, half pipe skiing will also be included on the Sotchi Games programme.
It’s huge fun for those ready to try it. Many resorts now have a permanent halfpipe where you can train and make good progress.
Slopestyle
This is the new breaking edge sport where the riders perform a series of tricks while getting the highest possible amplitude of the different types of jumps. Riders make the most of the boxes (features in the shape of more or less long and wide boxes), the rails (features you can slide along or ‘grind’) and kickers (snow jumps) in order to perform as many complicated tricks as possible.
Slopestyle proved extremely popular in the extreme sports Olympics, the Winter X Games, and it has now been added to the full blown Winter Olympics with its debut set for Sotchi in Russia in 2014. Awesome stuff!
You need to make a difference between acrobatic skiing and freestyle. While the dividing line is sometimes fairly flexible, acrobatic skiing has stricter guidelines and could be considered as the ‘old school’ freestyle to some extent. Freestyle is sometimes also called freeskiing. While it's generally performed in purpose-built snowparks, many riders also enjoy the sport outside the snowparks, in the backcountry. Rather than performing a ‘Canadian Bacon’* on a Big Air, the aim is to use a natural, 100% organic Big Air for your tricks!
*A trick in which the rider’s rear hand reaches behind the rear leg to grab the toe edge between the bindings with the rear leg extended (or boned)
Tricks, grabs, spins, flips, air...
Tricks may include grabs where the rider grabs hold of one or two skis during the jump. A rotation is a horizontal spin while flips are vertical somersaults, a corkscrew is when the axis of the spin allows the rider to be oriented sideways or upside down in the air, and a switch refers to any trick that a rider performs while travelling backwards. Sometimes the rider may perform a combo with a transition between two tricks that are often innovative, always impressive, and the result of daring, hard work and inventiveness.
As it’s difficult to list everything, Winter-Sports.com has picked out just a few of the best.
For the hungry: the Soup, Roast Beef and Melon
A “Soup” is when a rider pops an Ollie but instead lands on the nose of the board.
A “Roast Beef” is when the rider grabs the toe edge through their legs with their back hand.
A “Melon” is when the rider grabs their heel side with their front hand with their front leg fully extended.

For the egg heads: One-Two, 1080° or 50/50
A “One-Two” is when the rider grabs the heel edge behind the back foot with their front hand. This trick's opposite is an A-B.
A “1080°” is when the rider spins 1080 degrees or three full rotations.
A “50-50” is a rider slides along a rail or slide with their board pointed straight.

Thriller addicts!
A “Micheal Jackson” is when the rider performs a 50-50 but slides along the rail or slide on their toe edge.
A “Dracula” is when the rider grabs their tail with both hands. The back hand grabs the tail while the front hand reaches for the tail behind the rider's back.
Travellers will love packing their Suitcase, buckling their Seatbelt and then taking off for Space
A “Suitcase” is a variation of a Method but instead the rider bends both knees so that the front hand reach down and grab the toe side to hold the snowboard “like a suitcase”.
A “Seatbelt” is when the rider grabs the tail of the board with their front hand.
A “Space” is a variation of a Method but instead the rider grabs the toe side with their front hand and pulls the board up in front of the body. Opposite to this trick is a Mamma.
Advice and freestyle schools
Photos and videos of freestylers can be misleading. There’s no doubt that there’s plenty of fluidity, stylishness and facility, and behind it all, there’s plenty of talent, but also lots of hard work and practice. Every year, Winter-Sports.com tests the new season’s freestyle skis. Check out the video.

If you want to perform well, you need to be really fit, to strengthen your muscles and to take it easy at the beginning if you want to end the winter season…in style and in one piece! Make sure you’ve got all the equipment: the mandatory protective gear (helmet, mask, body armour and pads), thoroughly well-prepared skis, and freestyle boots will make the tricks easier to handle. In terms of fashion, anything goes so be as inventive as on the skis…
To learn well, ride safely and make progress, there’s only one answer: start with lessons. Most ski schools offer one-week courses to give you plenty of time to learn the bases of freestyle, advance and teach more seasoned freestylers some new tricks. Some schools even specialise in freestyle and the course may just take place in the snowpark. Other schools combine freestyle and freeride to give you every opportunity to enjoy the snow. Check out the courses on offer and see what you fancy. Once you’ve chosen your resort, check out the ski school websites for more information and just let yourself go!

The major 2011/2012 freestyle events in France:
- Méribel, 20 December 2011: Dual Moguls World Cup
- Alpe d'Huez, 11 January 2012: world championships Skicross finals
- Les Contamines, 15 January 2012: world championships Skicross finals World Cup
- Le Sauze, 28 January 2012: European World Cup
- Venue to be confirmed, 31 January and 1 February 2012: European World Cup
- Val Thorens, 10 February 2012: European World Cup
- Megève, 18 March 2012: Dual Moguls World Cup

You’ll find the list of major international events on the FFS website. Need somewhere to stay while you’re there? You’ll find everything you need on MediaHols.com!
Guerlain Chicherit interviewed by Winter-Sports.com
Freerider, freestyler, Coreupt ski designer, 4 times freeride skiing world champion, FIA Cross Country Rallies world champion ... Guerlain Chicherit spoke to Winter-Sports.com.
Winter-Sports.com: What does freeride mean for you?
GC: I’m tempted to say it’s my whole life. I’ve been skiing since I was a kid and I’m lucky enough to earn my living from it. For me, freeride can be summed up as all the trips I’ve been able to make and skiing in complete freedom, with no limits. There’s a start and an arrival but between the two it’s completely free!

WS: What’s your skiing background?
GC: It’s pretty traditional. I was born in Tignes where I went to the ski club until I was about 10 or 11 years old. At 12/13 years old, I started skiing moguls but it was my meeting with Edgard Gropiron that changed everything. First of all, I love his personality. When I saw him skiing, I said to myself “that’s my sport.” I did 4 years of moguls with a team and then in 1997, I was asked to freeride for Dynastar which wanted to create a freeride team. That was when I started and then it became more professional. Since then I just live for competition.
WS: What have been the main changes between the year 2000 and now?
GC: At the very beginning of freeride, it was more or less a case of 'the one with the biggest’. For the public, it was really ultra visual and super impressive... After Tignes, I moved towards a ‘calmer’ type of skiing, fast skiing with a series of longer jumps. Freeriders like us were a little less…alien! The discipline seems a bit more accessible to the general public. Now we combine freestyle with freeride, which suits me 100% as it’s really my thing at heart.
WS: And your ski brand, Coreupt?
GC: When I stopped skiing, I looked for something else I could do to stay in the snow! So I tried to make my own ski brand! That’s how I started Coreupt with the world’s top skiers. We were onto a real winner! We designed our skis with Daniel Bruyant who put together what we wanted. Today, the skis we sell are our own skis, our own models. In terms of design, it’s a good old tried and tested design, but we’ve innovated in terms of the shape and sides.
This year, Coreupt has 25 models and we’ve also introduced a Wear and luggage line with 230 product lines.
For more on extreme sports, read the article on skicross on Sports-Hiver.com.
Text: Eric Beallet / Nathalie Cuche
Photos : Beallet.com / OT Alpe d Huez L.Salino / OT Vaujany Y Cornu
Photos Guerlain Chichertit : www.TristanShu.com
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