Slopestyle Skiing to make Winter Olympic debut

PARK CITY, Utah - This is not your traditional Olympic sport. Slopestyle skiing, once considered a fringe extreme sport, will make its Winter Olympic debut next month in Sochi.

Slopestyle skiing combines the creativity used in a terrain park and electrifying artistic jumps. The goal is to link as many of the best tricks together as possible, and perhaps nobody is more incredible to watch than University of Utah’s own Tom Wallisch.

“Slopestyle being a featured event in the Winter Olympics is something I never would have thought possible,” Wallisch said. “As a kid growing up, all of us in freeskiing gave up Olympic dreams when we were young. We stopped racing and competing in moguls because it wasn’t a thing. Freeskiing was different. It was something you did for fun. It wasn’t something that was in the Olympics.”

But after it became the most popular sport at the Winter X-Games, slopestyle skiing and snowboarding were approved for Olympic competition in January of 2013.

“It’s something we never pushed for and never worked towards,” Wallisch said. “The Olympic committee game and said that this is a really cool sport. To be wanted like that, to have our sport be a sport that they want to see in the Olympics, that they think is cool and can attract a youth demographic, it was amazing.”

As a 2-time X-Games gold medalist, the 2013 World champion and ESPN action sports athlete of the year, Wallisch is hoping to add a gold medal to his collection in Sochi. But he says that’s not what his sport is all about.

“I’m hoping to do well,” he said. “But I’m just looking forward to having fun out there, showcasing, showing off our sport and how damn fun it is.”

It looks it. Slopestyle skiing is a constantly evolving sport, only limited by the imaginations of the skiers. Now that it’s hit the mainstream in the Olympics, where does it go from here?

“Over the next couple years, I don’t know where it’s going to go,” Wallisch said. “It’s always changing and always progressing. I can only imagine that by the Winter Olympics in 2018, people are probably going to be going upside down like six times. It keeps changing, but it’s still cool to this day.”

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