Mountain Times: Freestyle skiing is here to stay
March 29, 2010
Sometime in the mid 1970s, a friend, fellow skier and colleague of mine at andamp;#8220;Pacific Telephoneandamp;#8221; in South Lake Tahoe received a box one day containing a pair of short skis. When he opened the box and showed me the skis he said these were his new andamp;#8220;balletandamp;#8221; skis. This was my first introduction to what would later become the popular fad and sport of andamp;#8220;freestyle skiing.andamp;#8221;I would guess that the term andamp;#8220;freestyleandamp;#8221; came from the free spirits who pioneered this new athletic expression on the snow. In those days ballet skiing was set to music and pretty much consisted of spins, crossovers and backward skiing. The jumps were built by the participants (and often times knocked down by the ski patrol) and the initial tricks included andamp;#8220;spread eagles,andamp;#8221; andamp;#8220;daffiesandamp;#8221; and an occasional andamp;#8220;flip.andamp;#8221;Freestyle skiing seemed to evolve through personal goals, challenges between the competitors, and the desire to go faster, jump higher and to basically be better than the other participants. The advent of the andamp;#8220;X Games,andamp;#8221; introduction of freestyle skiing to the Olympic Games, the organization of teams at ski areas and the building of training centers in various locations around the country really heightened the participation in the various freestyle sports.Today the coaching and training is superb and the specialized equipment used to andamp;#8220;createandamp;#8221; the various courses, jumps and venues has created safer and more consistent courses upon which to compete.This past weekend Squaw Valley hosted the andamp;#8220;2010 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championshipsandamp;#8221; featuring moguls, aerials and skier pipe competitions. Most of our U.S. Freestyle Ski Team members and many of our countryandamp;#8217;s best andamp;#8220;up and comingandamp;#8221; freestyle athletes attended.On Friday morning following the mogul preliminary runs, Alan and I spotted Shannon Bahrke and some of the members of her family of supporters known as Team Bahrke.We first introduced ourselves to Shannonandamp;#8217;s mom and thanked her for her andamp;#8220;letter to the editorandamp;#8221; acknowledgment of a column statement we made about Shannon after her bronze medal performance in Vancouver.We then spoke a few minutes with Matt Happe, Shannonandamp;#8217;s fianc, then to Shannon herself. Unfortunately, Shannon could not compete in the last competition of her freestyle career due to a leg injury sustained in a training run a couple of weeks ago. However, she was extremely excited about her home ski area, Squaw Valley, hosting this competition for her friends and athletic competitors, and her younger brother Scotty who is also a member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team as an aerialist.Thank you Shannon for giving us a few minutes of your time and for allowing us a picture with you and your well-deserved medals (silver from the Salt Lake City Olympics eight years ago, and the bronze she won in Vancouver this year). You have been a great competitor and an ambassador of freestyle skiing around the world. Also good luck to you and Matt in your new life together in the Salt Lake City area, and may your business, andamp;#8220;Silver Bean Coffee,andamp;#8221; be a very successful one.Also good luck to Scotty for continued success in the aerials, and to the entire Bahrke family. The Bahrke family has given much love and support to their children, to the competitors and sport of freestyle skiing and to the Lake Tahoe community. Thank you!Norm and Alan Nicholls of the Nicholls Real Estate Group are affiliated with Dickson Realty at 11500 Donner Pass Rd. in Truckee.