Athletes from all around the world are currently gathered in PyeongChang, South Korea to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. As people watch the athletes compete, some are also reminded of past Olympic glories and bygone times — including when ski ballet was actually part of the Winter Olympics. Ski ballet, which features athletes flipping on their ski poles, jumping, and spinning, was actually a freestyle skiing discipline until the year 2000. And a handful of Winter Olympic ski ballet videos shows just how much the PyeongChang Games (and the sporting world) are missing by no longer featuring the sport.
Ski ballet was a skiing discipline from the 1960s through 2000, when the International Ski Federation ended all official competitions. According to Sporting News, ski ballet featured skiers going down a "gentle slope" while performing spinning and acrobatic tricks set to music. According to former ski ballet competitor Steve Hamley via Sporting News, "In essence, ski ballet is figure skating on skis. Can you do it on a flat surface like an ice rink? No, because you need some downward momentum to be skiing but it’s a very gentle slope. A short run is two minutes and a long run is four minutes.”
Ski ballet was featured as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada and the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, but never officially made an Olympic sport. This lack of classification as an Olympic sport reportedly contributed to the ISF's choice to end ski ballet competitions in the year 2000. However, while people no longer officially compete in ski ballet, thankfully there are many video clips that still reveal the former sport in all of its glory, some of which you can watch below.