9 Ski Ballet Videos That'll Have You Demanding It Becomes A Winter Olympic Sport
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.
For a first taste of ski ballet, here's a clip from a 1995 competition in Breckenridge, Colorado. Note the impressive gold sleeves on the costume of the first competitor.
Reitberger Reigned Supreme
Herman Reitberger of German was considered one of the best ski ballet competitors of the 1980s. In this clip, he is performing at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games, where he won first place in the men's ballet competition.
Rossi's Winning Routine
On the women's side, France's Christine Rossi also took first place with her exemplary routine in Calgary.
A routine by competitor Chris Simboli even featured Michael Jackson's signature move.
A Golden Performance
This clip from the 1993 World Cup features Norway's Rune Kristiansen performing a dizzying array of impressive flips and twists on his ski poles. Kristiansen ended up winning the championship with his routine.
A Strong Start
Switzerland's Conny Kissling opened her routine with an impressive aerial onto the slope.
In this clip, famed ski ballet competitor Suzy Chaffee performs a (likely unofficial) ski ballet routine with a partner, John Eaves, set to mellow music.
Women in Albertville
If you really want to take a deep dive into ski ballet, here's a compilation of the women's ski ballet performances from the demonstration at the 1992 Albertville Olympics.
The Men Take To The Slope
And, of course, here's a compilation of the men's Albertville performances as well.
Overall, ski ballet seems to be a lost sport and art, one perhaps that some would like to welcome back into competitive skiing. Thankfully, years of footage from past events have served to carry on its unique and entertaining legacy.