Last season, in search of something new, I was scrolling through Newschoolers, a ski website dedicated to fresh new videos from amateurs to pros. My eyes suddenly locked on an abnormal thumbnail of some weirdo in a black Adidas tracksuit doing some obscure press on a rail. Immediately I clicked on this video, intrigued to discover the intent of this never before seen skier. The video started with a groovy beat and four dudes moving around like ballet dancers on the snow. The first clip came up, and a guy wearing a tight canary yellow windbreaker that looked like something my grandma would own approached a rail. He pressed the noses of his skis on the snow and did a small spin over the tube and stood straight up with his arms in the air. Although it was smooth, buttery, and greasy as nutella on a french crepe, I thought to myself, “how could anyone like this?” I scrolled down to see 24k views, and all the comments saying “FIRE”.
I often think about this creative expression on skis, and I wonder, is the “New Wave” a new era of freeskiing, or just some trend that we will move past in a few seasons? Some may argue that this new style has been present for many years, and there isn't much “new” about it at all. One of the owners of Vishnu skis, a current “new wave” style ski that is on the comeup says, “People like Garrett Russell, Adam Delorme, and Eric Pollard have been skiing with the spirit of self expression for years before this trend.” This can be taken two different ways. Either, one: It has existed for a long time and is, therefore, a long-standing style; or, two: “New Wave” doesn't exist at all.
Freestyle skiing has seen many unique generations that have come and gone. In a recent marketing video, Red Bull energy drink chronicled the 10 different styles of freeskiing from its birth in the 70’s to 2016: Hot dog, Ski ballet, Arial, Big Mountain, Snow Blading, Backcountry, Gangster, Park, Urban, and Point of View. The New Wave is an emerging style that some consider a distinct movement that started appearing after Point of View skiing.
New Wave is a style of freeskiing that took off in the 2016/17 ski season and is similar to ski ballet. According to OlympicChannel.com, ski ballet was a major style in freeskiing in the 1970’s and 1980’s and was even an Olympic Sport in 1988 and 1992. It was technique-driven dancing on the snow in costume to music that incorporated drama, emotion, and speed, to produce flat ground maneuvers. “It just looked like a bunch of crazy stuff on skis,” says three-time world champion Bob Howard. Stunts consisted of Stay Crosses, which were spins off the ground, Twisting Flips, which were spins in the air balancing on the poles, and Aerial Long Arounds, which were spins balancing on the nose or tail of the ski. New Wave also includes similar ground maneuvers, however, there are additions such as the use of rails and jumps, which offer a lot of butters, swaps, and shuffles. These maneuvers are quick and snappy, but also involve some slow presses similar to ski ballet. Therefore, the “New Wave” could be considered an enhancement of ski ballet, similar to how a smartphone is an improvement on the flip phone.
The spark of “New Wave” happens to be a hot topic in today's skiing community that has caused much controversy on whether it is here to stay, or just a trend that will disappear. History suggests that the “New Wave” is not actually very new at all, and has been around for years. However, its recent popularity and controversy suggest it is indeed something relevant, but could fade, as did ski ballet. For now, it is a trend with an unknown destination.