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There are records of people performing somersaults on skis at the beginning of the 20th century in Norway, Italy and Austria, and in the early 1920s, US skiers started to flip and spin. Freestyle skiing really began to take off in America during the 1960s when social change and freedom of expression together with the advances in ski equipment led to development of new and exciting skiing techniques. Freestyle skiing was affectionately known as ‘hotdogging’. The name seemed to perfectly capture the breathtaking mix of acrobatic tricks, jumps and sheer adrenalin rush of the sport.
Freestyle was recognised as a discipline by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in 1979. The governing body brought in new regulations in an effort to curb some of the more dangerous elements of the infant sport and the first FIS World Cup series was staged the following year.
Freestyle skiing was contested as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Calgary Games. There were events for both men and women in all three events – moguls, aerials and ballet. Four years later, the mogul event gained medal status at the Albertville Games, as did the aerial event in Lillehammer in 1994. Ski cross made its Olympic debut at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Slopestyle and halfpipe were added to the freestyle skiing programme at the 2014 Sochi Games.