Organized freestyle skiing in Canada took shape when a group headed by John Johnston founded the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA) in 1974. Shortly thereafter the Canadian Ski Association adopted Freestyle as one of its member disciplines.
In 1979, the International Ski Federation (FIS) officially accepted Freestyle as a member of the international ski community, and the first FIS sanctioned World Cup Freestyle events took place. In February 1986 the first ever FIS Freestyle World Championships were held in Tignes, France. They were held for the second time in 1989 and have been held every two years since. In 2001 Canada hosted the World Championships at Blackcomb Mountain.
Freestyle made its Olympic debut as a demonstration sport in Calgary in 1988. Moguls was accepted as an official medal sport in 1992, and Aerials followed in 1994. The newest freestyle Olympic disciplines are ski halfpipe and ski slopestyle, both of which will make their debut on the world’s biggest sporting stage in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
In 1995, Canada established its own national governing body, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. There are now more than 50 Freestyle Ski Clubs across the country which provide training programs to aspiring athletes of all ages under CanFree, the CFSA’s long-term athlete development program.
Internationally, approximately 30 countries have developed active competitive freestyle programs. At the top of the scale, elite national teams participate each year on the FIS World Cup tour, which features events in Canada, the USA, Europe, China, Japan and Australia.
Freestyle continues to evolve
With the burgeoning interest in the newschool disciplines of halfpipe and slopestyle, freestyle skiing continues to be vibrant and relevant to skiers of all ages. The majority of ski resorts in Canada have public terrain parks where skiers can practice their freestyle skills.
Canadian Freestyle Milestones
2012 – Mikael Kingsbury ties the all time record with six consecutive World Cup wins and takes the Crystal Globe in men’s moguls. Olivier Rochon wins the overall in men’s aerials.
2011 – At the World Championships in Deer Valley, UT, Canada took home medals in every freestyle discipline and finished the event with a record 14 medals and six World Championship titles.
2011 – Canada won the FIS Nations Cup, emblematic of the top team on the FIS World Cup circuit, for the eighth time in nine years in 2010-2011.
2010 – At Vancouver Winter Olympic Games Alex Bilodeau became the first Canadian ever to win Olympic gold on home soil. One day earlier Jenn Heil came oh so close, capturing silver.
2009 – At the 2009 FIS World Championships Canadians put on an incredible show winning seven medals including a gold in dual moguls by Alex Bilodeau.
2008 – Aerialist Steve Omischl had an incredible season winning six of nine aerial competitions and earning the FIS World Cup crown in both aerials and overall.
2007 – Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau and Kristi Richards were crowned single mogul world champions and Jenn Heil took the title in duals.
2006 – Jenn Heil won gold in women’s moguls at the Torino Winter Olympics.
2002 – At Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Veronica Brenner won silver and Deidra Dionne won bronze in women’s aerials. Canada also had six other top-ten finishes, including a fourth by Jeff Bean in men’s aerials and a fourth by Jenn Heil in women’s moguls (missing a medal by 1/100 of a point).
2001 – Canada won five World Championship medals including gold by Veronika Bauer in Aerials.
2000 – Nicolas Fontaine won an unprecedented fourth consecutive World Cup title making him the unquestioned leader of the Canadian Aerial Team before retiring at the end of the 2002 season.
1998 – While being shut out of the medals at the Nagano Olympics in Japan, Canada had some impressive results including fourth, seventh and eighth in men’s moguls (Brassard, Johnson and Rochon) and fifth in women’s moguls (Ann Marie Pelchat).
1994 – Jean-Luc Brassard won the first Olympic gold medal by a Canadian male skier, at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics in moguls; at the same Olympics, Philippe LaRoche and Lloyd Langlois bronze won silver and bronze, respectively, in men’s aerials.
1992 – Nicolas Fontaine won silver, and Philippe LaRoche won gold at the Olympics at Albertville, France when aerials was a demonstration sport
1989 – Canada took six World Championship medals in 1989 with six Oberjoch, Germany.
1988 – Freestyle’s Olympic debut as a demonstration sport in Calgary. Legendary aerialist Jean-Marc Rozon took gold and the equally legendary Lloyd Langlois won a bronze.