Remembering the lost art of ski ballet, a Winter Olympics tradition

Ski Ballet - Credit: Olympics.com

Ski Ballet – Credit: Olympics.com

Every four years, the world’s greatest athletes across the winter sport disciplines gather at the Olympic Games to provide a spectacle of sport and sportsmanship that inspires the 7.7 billion humans that inhabit Earth’s 195 nations. And every four years, we must take the time to honor our history — specifically the lost art of ski ballet. 

Ski ballet has not been seen in an Olympic setting since it was dropped from the schedule for the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway. It never formally broke through as a true Olympic discipline (with medals awarded), but it was featured as a demonstration sport at both the 1988 Calgary Games in Canada and 1992 Albertville Games in France.

The sport — also known at times as Acroski — was featured on professional freestyle skiing tours in the 1970s and 1980s and was always a unique fan-favorite. Competitors performed two-minute routines set to music and filled with spins, flips and flair. 

As you can see from the winning runs from Switzerland’s Conny Kissling and France’s Fabrice Becker from Albertville 1992, the sport was wildly popular with the fans…

View social media post: https://twitter.com/Olympics/status/1481702714082054155

View social media post: https://twitter.com/Olympics/status/1482744561378156545

There have been no demonstration sports included in Olympic programs since 1992 in Albertville. In the past, demonstration sports have ranged from military patrol (cross-country skiing/ski mountaineering/rifle shooting), to sled dog racing, to Australian rules football, to bowling, to … dueling*.

A few more ski ballet clips for you to enjoy…

View social media post: https://twitter.com/NBCOlympics/status/963885382193569792

View social media post: https://twitter.com/NBCOlympics/status/961814439673516033

View social media post: https://twitter.com/lindseyvonn/status/1110208011254054912

Time will tell if the abandoned but glorious sport ever makes a triumphant return to the main stage. 

*There is some debate as to whether or not the 1908 dueling exhibition held in London was to commemorate the Olympics or the Franco-British Exhibition. Either way, competitors wore protective equipment and fired wax bullets at each other. Dueling has never been on display at the Olympics since. But dueling was demonstrated at the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens, Greece, where competitors fired pistols at plaster dummies from 20m and 30m. France’s Leon Moreaux took gold in the 20m while Greece’s Konstantinos Skarlatos won gold in the 30m.

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