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Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Freestyle skiing

Han Xiaopeng

Alpine and nordic skiing disciplines are all about who can get from start to finish as quickly as possible.

But for freestyle skiers, it's what they do in between that counts.

Aerials specialists are the acrobats of the slopes, performing a series of somersaults and spins as they are catapulted up to 15 metres into the air.

The event is not for the faint-hearted, and a bad landing is to be avoided at all costs.


The skier heads down a steep approach to the jump, is thrown high into the air and carries out an elaborate manoeuvre before landing on the run-off area.

Each jump has its own difficulty rating and the skier must tell the judges in advance what is planned.

There is a choice of take-off ramps, which must be approached at exactly the right speed to make sure the trick can be completed and landed safely.

Aerials skiers train on trampolines and practise their moves by jumping off plastic ramps into specially made swimming pools

The run-off slope is covered with wood chips to make it easier for the skier to spot the landing.

The skier is given marks in three categories:

Air, which is based on the height and distance of the jump and covers 20% of the total;

Form, which rates how gracefully the jump is performed and covers 50% of the total;

Landing, which assesses how smoothly the jump is landed and covers 30% of the total.

Five judges give marks for air and form. Each judge can give a maximum score of seven, with the highest and lowest marks thrown out and the other three added together.

Two other judges assess the quality of the landing, each awarding up to 3.0 points. Their two scores are averaged and then multiplied by three, for a maximum of 9.0 points.

The total score - a maximum of 30.0 - is multiplied by the difficulty rating of the jump to give a final score.

Each skier has two jumps, with the scores from both added together to produce a final total.

The top 12 from the qualifying round go through to the final.

Apart from the skis, boots and bindings, the only other thing an aerials skier really needs is protection, so helmets are compulsory.


If you want to become an aerials specialist, you obviously have to be an accomplished skier.

But if you think you are ready for the challenge, Snowsport GB has details of how to get involved in freestyle skiing.

And for more information on the ski world, visit the International Ski Federation's website.


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