It’s 2009 and Freeskiing has been legit for probably at least the last 10 years, ever since the first pair of yellow Salomon 1080s showed up on JF Cusson, Mike Douglas, JP Auclair, and the rest of the New Canadian Air Force’s feet. Since that time, twintips have moved from one SKU in the line up to about 70% of all skis having some type of upturned tail. Athletes have gone from ex-mogul jocks to full on rockstars sponsored by Red Bull and Target. Skis are now almost as wide as a snowboard, have strong graphic stories and have reverse camber. But the question still remains: is skiing really an action sport?
When people think of skiing, most people conjure images of the Hermanator or Picabo Street, hurling themselves downhill in a skinsuit so tight that would make Spiderman blush. Or they think of those inane Warren Miller skits where the people keep falling off the chairlift when they try to get off. Like the Virgina Slims ad, we’ve come a long way baby.
You know skiing has gained the ultimate respect when snowboard companies started sponsoring skiers. For the longest time, snowboarders rebelled against their older sibling, still sore from the jeers, taunting, spitting and banning that occurred on hills. It’s the stuff that would get Jesse Jackson in arms if he lived in Colorado. Now skiers and snowboarders co-exist in the park, on most trails and in the lift line. Companies like Holden, Von Zipper, Electric, Sessions, Eesa and at one point even Burton (through Anon and Red) sponsor or sponsored skiers. After a few very successful years, Burton dumped their skiers, proclaiming that if you aren’t moving sideways, you aren’t going to be associated with Burton. Perhaps they just got leery of seeing so many Anon goggles on the heads of people with sharp pointy poles.
To make a ruling on Freeskiing as an action sport, one needs to ask: what makes a sport an Action Sport as by definition, most sports involve some sort of action. The sports that hold the lofty “Action Sports” title seem to have a few things in common:
1. Coverage in X-games, Dew games or some other billed as extreme, made-for-TV event sponsored an energy drink. – Check
2. The potential to cause serious harm to oneself or die by being suffocated by large quantities of water or break major bones on a hard flat surface by going too fast. – Check
3. A series of movies that are great eye candy, but really have no script to speak of. – Check
4. A group of athletes that were previously marginalized, but really now are just as mainstream as football or baseball jocks. – Check
5. Equipment that requires a serious amount of cash. – Check
6. Labeled as a sport, but in reality, proper fashion is almost as if not more important than actually being good at the sport. - Check
7. Claim of being super hardcore because back in the day, it was three scruffy dudes in the middle of nowhere, doing the sport for no money just “the love”. – Maybe if you consider the 1930s back in the day
So based on my totally arbitrary ramblings, freeskiing should be considered an action sport. But there’s still this little pang in my gut that says there’s too much of “The Man” in skiing. I can’t quite shake it, and it follows me around from the hill to the house. Perhaps it’s because most skiers and skiing still have such structured, rigid rules attached to them. And you’re just as likely to see your dad skiing as you bro. All I can say with certainty is that time will tell. And I know that I’ll be mixing it up in the winter on my snowboard and skis.