by Josh Musser
What’s life without passion? Passion gives us the drive, a reason to love, and the energy and the strength to fight for. It seems that so many people find passion in others but to me, my passion is a hobby (Shh don’t tell my girlfriend). Freeskiing. It’s a sport of creativity and freedom, hence the free in freeskiing. The sport allows the mind to wonder off and only dream of what to do next whether it’s just one more carving turn or an all too common double cork 1260. Tricks are obviously the most vital aspect of the sport and they are what allow athletes to expand their minds. For me, freeskiing has only been in my life since my sophomore year in high school, for the record, I am finishing up my freshmen year in college. But since that Christmas day when I received my first pair of skis, my heart has yearned for the sport almost every waking moment. It has become my passion and one of the biggest loves of my life. I know it is not right to love something other than a human being, but I do. And I’m okay with that. The countless times I have fallen and scraped and bruised my body were all worth it, and every concussion and broken bone has healed only allowing me to go back out and try the same trick again. It is a way for me to show my creativity and drive. I have never found any other way to spend my time that has taken this much passion and would do anything to be able to do it for the rest of my life.
Being from Nebraska however, it makes skiing a little difficult. The creativity aspect definitely comes into play due to the lack of hills and the poor terrain park within my local hill. I’ve had to utilize cornfields, random handrails around town, and tons of 2X4’s and PVC pipes. One of the simplest ways for me to get involved with the sport besides actually participating in it is watching others whether that be online, competitions that have been televised, or witnessing those at my local hill. Recording every live event on TV has become a ritual for me. I re-watch competitions over and over again throughout the summer until next season roles along allowing me to record and save those. With this year being 2014, the Winter Olympics was the biggest competition I had recorded and now watched over 100 times. Freeskiing was introduced to the games this year and the world witnessed the creativity of those much better than I. Prior to the games however, much discussion was held about the dangers of the sport itself and possible restrictions that could have held back the athletes and their performances. In my opinion, the International Freeskiing Committee should not have placed regulations or rules among the 2014-freeskiing games in the Olympics as well as the same for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
It is true that the biggest concern with the sport is injury, and the biggest concern with injury is death. But death due to a passion isn’t always frowned upon. Sarah Burke, Shane McConkey, and CR Johnson are some of the greats in freeskiing who have passed recently due to sport related injuries. An article from a magazine source titled Maclean’s written about Burke’s death stated this, “These are the days when sports confound. In a cruel split second, the steady rise of a gentle, pioneering athlete destined for Olympic stardom lurched, violently, to tragedy,” (par. 1 MacDonald). Burke passed prior to the Olympic games attempting a trick she had already done many times before. But if you ask those around her, she is still smiling because she lived her life to the fullest and died living her passion. This goes for McConkey and Johnson as well, both passing due to their passions. I’m not saying that anyone is going to die at the Olympic stage, but those involved know the risks. “Detractors are concerned, Burke says, that Olympic inclusion will suffocate the sport’s carefree spirit with rules and restrictions similar to those that turned many freeskiers away from moguls after that sport was added to the Olympics in 1992,” (Michaelis 08c). A quote prior to her passing, she would love to see the sport going as far as skiers now could push it. “Being a dangerous sport, I think girls need more of that motivation to really get out there and charge,” (Michaelis 08c) says Jen Haduk, one of Burke’s closest friends and competitors. Again, the competitors know the risks and the injuries involved but also don’t want to see anything that would hold them back.
“Some skiers on the edge of making the Olympics are hedging their bets, sending me long explanations as to why they don’t even want the Olympics” (par. 2 Abbott). This comes straight from Freeskier Magazine, one of the industries largest source for the latest news and controversies within the sport. Nate Abbott, an avid skier and writer constantly writes on the sport and with the latest craze being these regulations, he absolutely had to. “My answer is to focus on the one thing aside from the act of skiing that actually matters. The skiers who define skiing” (par. 3 Abbott). Abbott is too, worried about the games and what they are to bring but he comes at it with a whole new perspective. Giving everyone a new perspective and a way of worrying less on the sport itself but more on those who make up the face of it. Needless to say, those involved on the biggest stage would not like to again see these regulations put in place but they are also the ones who have the biggest say in the sport in case they are put it. Abbott makes it clear that whatever the decision it’s up to them. In my opinion, I think the athletes showed what they can do and did not fear the injuries that can be involved. No one wants to watch a sport once and have their mind blown, then a week later see the same sport only to be revealed that the athletes now cannot entertain or wow the crowd. It takes away the freedom and creativity; leaving the athletes with the same old sport that has been in the Olympics for years now, ski racing. That is not my forte.
The sport must stay free. According to one of the oldest in the sport, Jonny Moseley, the sport is losing its’ freedom. Not entirely a direct quote but an assumption. Not only with the Olympic games but among other competitions too. The article What Ever Happened to the ‘Free’ in Freestyle? talks about this problem. Moseley is an extremely stylish skier and has been since he was first introduced to the sport. He has won many events in his day and is one of the biggest innovators of the sport. Inventing trick after trick, Moseley definitely has the credit needed to know what freeskiing is and the freedom felt within. “The attitudes the original freestylers had are the same as the freeskiing attitudes now,” says seminal ski filmmaker Greg Stump. “Party. Have a good time. Go for it. Reinvent skiing” (par. 5 Reifer). Stump is one of the many lucky filmmakers that have gotten the opportunity to ski and film Moseley and much like him, he understands what it means to be a freeskier. Within filming and making movies, the team of Moseley and Stump could do whatever they wanted to. There were no regulations to the tricks that could be put in place, nothing holding them back from showing the world what they had learned and what could be possible on skis. They are not the only skier out there that think this either, with that being said, all freeskiers in the industry do not want to see these regulations put on any competition, especially the Olympics. They believe the freedom should stay and skiers should be able to push the sport no matter the cost. Moseley would definitely disagree with the regulations of tricks that may be placed upon the introduction of the sports within the games.
The creativity is what breaks the sport from the rest of the skiing pack and also bonds the athletes together. I did not want to see the sport held back in 2014 and would hate to see the same argument pose for 2018. Freeskiing should stay free and hold to its roots. Athletes should keep pushing and allow the world to witness the beauty of each trick. The International Freeskiing Committee should not place regulations or rules among the 2018 games now that the 2014 games are finished.
Abbott, Nate. “February Spin Letter: For Better or Worse, the Olympics Are Here.” Freeskier Magazine 15 Dec. 2013: 30. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.
Macdonald, Nancy, and Charlie Gillis. “The End of Innocence for Action Sports.” Maclean’s 6 June 2012: 24-25. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.
Michaelis, Vicki. “Edgy Ski Events Getting Trial Run.” USA Today 26 Jan. 2011, Sports sec.: 08c. Print.
Reifer, Susan. “Whatever Happened to the ‘Free’ In Freestyle.” Skiing Feb. 2002: 72. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.