A longtime favorite of the X Games, slopestyle joined the Olympic ranks at Sochi this year. Freewheeling American snowboarders Jamie Anderson and Sage Kotsenburg won gold over the weekend, and strong competitors on the skiing side taking to the course this week (watch the women’s qualification and final today; the men’s compete on February 13).
In slopestyle, skiers traverse a terrain park with features, such as rails and jumps. A team of judges score competitors based on the difficulty of the line they choose, the difficulty and execution of the tricks they perform—more variation in tricks gets a higher score than performing the same one repeatedly—and the amplitude they get off jumps.
North American skiers, whether hopefuls or hobbyists, can take advantage of two noted schools for honing aerial skills and tricks:
Located in Mount Hood, Oregon, Windells Camp offers its summertime Adult Freestyle Ski intensive to every type of enthusiast: from those who’ve never hit a box to athletes a season away from being X Games qualifiers. Marsha Hovey, the camp’s director, believes skiers can learn more in a week with her coaches than in an entire season on their own.
Campers—even newbies with only a basic understanding of carving and speed control—work on 180s and 360s, small jumps, slides on flat boxes and rails, riding and landing switches, and ollies.
“Slopestyle is extremely difficult to fully master because the sport is constantly progressing. Its pros are always pushing the envelope of what we think is possible,” Hovey observes. “It’s also one of the most rewarding sports out there.”
Adult-only camps go from June through August and run $1,699 to $1,799.
Momentum Ski Camps
Based in Whistler, British Columbia, Momentum Ski Camps teach slopestyle to recreational and competitive devotees alike. Founders Julia and John Smart are both former Olympians, with Julia competing in 1992 for Great Britain in ballet skiing, and husband John competing for Canada in moguls at the same games.
Julia says attendees should bring solid skiing skills to camp. In the purpose-built park, each skier is matched to the terrain—ranging from beginner jumps, rails, and boxes, to huge jumps—that best suits their level.
“We make great use of our two giant airbags, our water ramps, and our trampolines to safely help skiers develop their air skills before trying tricks on snow,” Julia explains. “We have a T-bar running right through our terrain, allowing skiers to lap the park quickly and get lots of mileage each day. Every evening, our daily video reviews, featuring one-on-one analysis, further help campers progress more quickly.”
The adult-only camp costs $1,540.