Winter Olympics moguls final: the jump the world didn't see
Canada won its first-ever Olympic gold medal on home soil in the men's moguls Sunday. But among the absences was a skier – and a jump – trying to push moguls back to its freestyle roots.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The jump that American mogul skier Sho Kashima spent the entire summer perfecting did not make its debut in the men's mogul final Sunday.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic venues
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Admittedly, neither did Kashima, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in January. Yet even if he had been here, Kashima's jump would not have been. It is banned by the International Ski Federation, which has deemed it too dangerous.
So why did he spend a summer working on a jump that he couldn't even use in competition?
“I learned the new trick to keep it fun,” said Kashima months ago. “Winning is just a bonus.”
This is a mentality that goes to the roots of what moguls once was and what the Olympics purport them to be: freestyle skiing – skiers pushing the limits of what the mind can devise and what the body can accomplish, come what may.
Yet within freestyle skiing, that innovation – and the “wow” factor that goes with it – is increasingly happening outside the Olympics.
“The rules that regulate us are making us mainstream,” said Kashima.
American freestyle aerialist Ryan St. Onge says the sport is no longer what it was when he first got involved in 1992.
“A lot of the lifestyle from [the origin of the movement in] the ‘70s lingered,” he said. “It wasn’t about the competitions, it was about enjoying it.”
Freestyle skiing’s desire to join the Olympic movement made changes inevitable. Unlike the X Games, where judges’ decisions are not liable to launch international inquiries, the Olympics need to have a transparent and consistent standard by which tricks are tallied.
Ski federation officials are unlikely to explain a judges’ decision by arguing: “Dude, that was just the sickest run anyone threw down all day.”
Yet, in many ways, that is precisely what the uninitiated viewer wants.
“They were throwing out brand new tricks that no one had ever seen before,” he says.
By contrast, in Olympic aerials, Threndyle suggests that “they’re still doing the same tricks they did 10 years ago, though there might be a difference in the nuance that only the most skilled commentator can see.”
In moguls, “every jump package is identical in look and score,” adds Jonny Moseley, the moguls gold medalist in 1998. “There needs to be credit for doing something original and cool.”
“Where’s the ‘rad’ factor?” he says, only partially joking when he adds: “There needs to be a rad judge.”
'The Moseley effect'
Moseley, like Kashima, chose innovation over results – and paid for it. In 2002, he unveiled the “dinner roll,” a trick designed to stretch the International Ski Federation’s rules as far as possible.