Why Was Ski Ballet Removed From The Olympics

Perhaps it was the recorded-to-tape nostalgia, the rhythmic synths reminiscent of yacht rock, or the impossibly ruffled wisps of mullets (both male and female), but this week the internet went crazy for a no longer-existent Winter Olympics event: ski ballet.

Why Was Ski Ballet Removed From The Olympics

Indeed, this makes logical sense. Ski ballet may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but if you see footage from actual events from years ago, you can’t help but be impressed by the athletes’ skill and the creativity of the choreography.

The entire spectacle of ski ballet makes one wonder, “What the heck am I watching?”

Why Was Ski Ballet Removed From The Olympics

Ski ballet, to put it briefly, combines the disciplines of figure skating and skiing. Skiers would include aspects of dance into their routines, as well as jumps reminiscent of figure skating and vault-style tricks performed with longer ski poles (they would also wear shorter skis for easier mobility).

From the late 1970s through the 1990s, when the sport’s popularity began to wane, until its formal extinction in the year 2000, the sport had widespread attention and participation. Although ski ballet was never an official event, it was showcased as a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games in 1988 and 1992. The fact that it was never recognised by the government is puzzling, given its history.

One Could Say That The Skiing Community Was Split in Two in The Early 1970s.

This new wave of skiers wanted to break away from the norms of the sport and find fresh approaches. Freestyle skiing, also known as hotdog skiing, acrobatic skiing, and stunt skiing, was the result of their efforts. And the three parts that made it up were moguls, aerials, and ski ballet.

From the pogo feats of moguls to the vaulting acrobatics of the aerial phase, and finally finishing with more dance and flatland tricks on the little incline of the end of the race, these pioneers would descend down the mountain in even more artistic ways.

It’s puzzling that, when freestyle skiing was split into three sports, only two of them made it to the Olympics, but the third, ski ballet, didn’t.

All Three Freestyle Skiing Competitions in 1988 Were Exhibitions.

The moguls competition was upgraded to a medal event in 1992, but the aerials and ballet competitions were eliminated. Ballet was no longer included as a competitive discipline after 1996, when moguls and aerials were introduced.

Unfortunately for ski ballet, its days were numbered as snowboarding took off (the first Winter X Games were held in 1997). Ski ballet was officially discontinued by the International Ski Federation in the year 2000.

The sport tried to reinvent itself as acroski (pronounced like acrobat, not acrostic), but was never accepted into the Olympics under that name.


Unfortunately, ski ballet lost its popularity in the middle of the 1990s as more laws and regulations were imposed on the sport, limiting its freedom. A three-time world champion in ski ballet, Justin Holland, has argued that the sport has become increasingly conventional and prescriptive.

Together with other skiers, Holland tried to get ski ballet reinstated at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, but they were unsuccessful. Ski ballet had its final competitive season in 2000, but thanks to the Internet and sites like YouTube, the art form will not be lost forever.