Oh hi! So yeah, I posted the save FREEskiing thread because I thought it sounded funny and might lighten the mood around here, but maybe satire and/or hating isn’t really my gig, sorry ‘bout that. For those who laughed at it, thanks, and for those who thought it was serious…. Sheesh, if shit-talking Candide doesn’t convince you that something’s obviously not real, I don’t even know what to say…
Anyways, I thought that maybe I would be better off to try and write something real, about my own experiences during “the history of freeskiing.”.
There’s a pervasive thought process within the Newschool community that freeskiing was “created as a rebellion against the FIS mogul and aerial regime”. I don’t deny that it’s a great story. It’s badass, and cool as shit. However, in my opinion, as someone who was there, in the middle of it, when it all went down, that’s not what actually fueled the birth of freesking.
That well-repeated storyline - we know it’s a big diss on moguls, and aerials, and FIS, etc. However, I feel like it kind of disrespects freeskiing too.
What the hell does that mean? Ok, think of it this way: Imagine a day in the future, and somebody asks you what brought you and your wife together. Now, imagine answering that question with “Well I married her, because I really hated this other girl I that I was dating before her.”
What’s that saying about your wife? What’s that saying TO your wife? Now consider this answer - “I married her because she makes me so happy, because she is kind, and beautiful, and treats me like gold, and I’m madly in love with her.” Isn’t that the REAL truth of what ‘created” the relationship? Isn’t that also showing her a lot more respect and admiration than the first answer?
I was there (yeah I’m old as dirt) when this newschool shit was born, and trust me, the first time skiers pulled up to a halfpipe and looked down it, nobody said, “hey guys, maybe we should drop into this thing, because mogul skiing really sucks these days!” The first time a skier decided to hit a cornice switch, I guarantee their motivation to try it had nothing to do with hating some stupid FIS rule.
Freeskiing wasn’t created out of hatred of FIS, or disillusion with moguls, or frustration with aerials restrictions, just as none of us (hopefully) will ever marry someone just because we hate somebody else. In fact the creation of what we do now was the opposite of hate. It was created by a love of trying something new, by excitement, and interest, and creativity, and “holy shit that felt so cool!”. (Which is what’s still fuelling freeskiing, from the kid hitting his first urban rail, to the halfpipe skiers that I’m lucky enough to be coaching today.)
People tried skiing backwards because they were challenged and intrigued by the idea, they tried misty flips because they saw snowboarders flipping and spinning in new ways, and wanted to figure out how we could do that. They started hitting park jumps because they saw them and thought, “No way! That looks soooo fun!”.
Of course in the history books, “I was being held down and oppressed by the man, so I fought back!” sounds so much cooler than “Well, I didn’t make it as far as I wanted to in moguls, and at the same time I was discovering something new, that I liked even more than moguls, so I went that route instead.”
Food for thought: In many ways, the “FIS Sucks” movement was more of a clever marketing plan, than a revolution. It’s a proven social formula; designating a common enemy is a great way to quickly unite people. And here’s the other thing: it was primarily coming from people (most of them my close friends) who had at some point tried, but failed, to make it to World Cup teams and the Olympics. To be brutally honest, I always thought that gave the whole thing a bit of a “sour grapes” vibe. (note: Jonny Mosely is an exception to that, he legitimately had the credentials to voice personal dissatisfaction with FIS World Cup and Olympic moguls.)
Sure, FIS was a bureaucratic dinosaur imposing dumb rules that us mogul skiers didn’t agree with, and I was fighting against those rules along with lots of others. But you know what? I skied FIS World Cups, World Championships, and Olympic moguls from 1995 until 2002, and you have NO IDEA how much damn fun I had doing it. I was traveling around the globe with a huge group of amazing friends from all these different countries, partying like crazy at times, working hard at others, and shredding bumps not because of “what it might do for me” but because I honestly loved shredding bumps, and I loved competing.
Some of those years I had some pretty good funding, support, and sponsors, and other years I worked in a pulp mill to pay for my comp seasons. Sometimes I dressed up like a freaking clown doing bizarre photo shoots for my sponsors, and sometimes I held fundraisers to try and give myself more chances to train. I formed super tight friendships with so many of the other competitors, and to this day I have great buddies all over the planet from those times. It was, quite frankly, some of the greatest times of my entire life (and I have a LOT of great times).
Unlike what appears to be an unfortunately large segment of the freeskiing community, I still completely admire and respect skiers like Mikael Kingsbury (moguls) as much as I admire and respect people like Candide and all the current and past legends in freeskiing. By all appearances, Mikael is also having a ton of fun doing what he’s doing, he sure seems happy and stoked whenever I see him. Who’s anyone to say that what Traveling Circus does is more about having fun that what he does? It’s impossible to accurately state what fuels somebody else’s enjoyment.
No, I didn’t agree with the FIS rules that didn’t let us flip when we wanted to, and I don’t agree with the way mogul judging these days encourages guys to do iron cross backflips when they’re capable of so much more. As a “National Association coach”, I had to fight to remove the concept of “qualifying tricks” from my program, and I hate that it’s still being imposed within some circles of the sport. But hey, I choose to keep doing this anyways, because despite the downsides, I still love what I’m doing, the friends I’m making, and the experiences I’m having. I don’t like some of the current FIS or National association rules, but it’s not like XGames or Dew Tour or anyone out there is running events that are beyond critique either. Competition, in any format, still manages to be something that’s highly enjoyable for certain people.
I’m sure you could talk to an NHL player and he could give you a list of things he hates about the league, or an ASP world tour surfer who could tell you all the bullshit rules their association is implementing. But in the end, they still have a 100% free choice to choose to do it, or do something else. When Slater is getting barreled at Pipeline, with only one other person in the water, he probably finds the enjoyment he gets out of doing that overrides his dissatisfaction with some dumb rule in the ASP handbook. On the other hand, Jamie Obrien burned the rule book and went freesurfing instead, and I think that’s awesome too, but I do think it’s weak when he talks shit on the contest surfers.
Despite it’s many flaws, I loved skiing World Cup moguls and I‘ll always be stoked that I did it. I still loved moguls when I got into park and pipe, I just found myself eventually loving park and pipe and MORE. I love freesking only because of what it is, not because of what it isn’t.
So yeah, saying that “our sport was created because of lame stuff happening in moguls and aerials”, seems a bit like telling your wife that you only married her because of something lame your ex did. Personally, I think freeskiing deserves a better storyline than that.
That’s my (biased) version of freeski history. As for why I support the Olympics, and thoughts on what it will or won’t do to freeskiing, I might try and write that down sometime later.
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