Senior Editor

The Inertia

I have a problem with the 2018 Winter Olympics. A serious one. I want a sport that combines skiing, ballet, glittered blouses, and beautiful, luscious heads of hair. Doesn’t everyone? As it turns out, there is one… and it used to be in the Olympics: Ski Ballet, or to those who are in the know, Acroskiing. Oh, you’re not in the know? Let me put you there. But first, I’m going to grace your screen with this:

“HOW!?” you ask. “HOW IS THIS NOT A THING ANYMORE!?” Well, I ask that with you. Despite the obvious necessity for it, ski ballet wasn’t ever actually a full-time Olympic sport. In the ’70s, the golden age of Fawcett hair—a requirement of all acroskiers—people actually did this, and they did it very seriously. In the ’88 and ’92 Olympics, it was a demonstration sport along with moguls and aerial skiing. Then, by some ill-fated stroke of horrendous judgement, moguls were added in 1992 the Olympic roster, aerials in 1994, and acroskiing was dropped entirely. Now, I ask you this in all seriousness: would you rather watch a person on the moguls shattering their jaw with their knees while their legs bounce up and down like a frantic teenaged masturbator, or would you rather watch a man with Swayze hair and golden, glittering sleeves perform an act so graceful it would make Mikhail Baryshnikov weep in adoration?


Despite the very obvious answer to that question, the International Ski Federation killed acroskiing contests in the year 2000. Is it coincidence that snowboarding made its Olympic debut in 1998? It can’t be. Although ski ballet officials ardently rallied for their sport to be included at the 1998 Games in Nagano and the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, the powers-that-be refused.

Before 2000, however, viewers were lucky enough to spend a few winters watching people like Jan Bucher, a woman who is, for all intents and purposes, the Kelly Slater of ski ballet. Bucher, who is the proud owner of seven world titles, was the undisputed ski ballet champion of the world. From 1979 to 1984, she danced her way down the gently rolling hill to every single World Cup, twisting her ankles at impossible angles and wowing spectators by flinging her poles in wide circles. Legions of fans waited outside her hotel rooms, men and women lined the streets just for a whiff of her hair, and she went down in history as the most celebrated athlete of all-time. None of that is true, but damn it, it should be. Just watch the passion! Feel the excitement! Now, thanks to snowboarding (damn you, Shaun White!) and the International Ski Federation, we’re all doomed to live in a world where acroskiing isn’t in the Olympics.

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