Freestyle Skiing, Art or Sport?

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A sport is a physical activity that is often engaged in competitively and governed by a set of rules or customs. It’s hard to define freestyle skiing in this way; there are few rules, and competition skiing is only considered a sect. Unlike other sports, its movies are based solely on park skiing, with no recognizable plot other than watching trick after trick. I can think of other movies about sports, but other than skateboarding, biking, or snowboarding, there isn’t another sport like it. Because of its capacity for integrating with the film industry, could this sect of freestyle be a class in the performing arts?

I asked two people without much knowledge of the sport, to watch and edit a freestyle skiing video of some of the most creative skiers in the world. Afterward, I asked them if “this style of freestyle skiing more a sport like football, or an art like dancing?” to get a general idea of what the public might think. “Both,” said Aset a senior at HHS, “because they show their athletic ability, but their style of skiing as well.” Delaney, another HHS student, said “It’s more like a sport, because you’re not sitting there painting.”
I like to compare “creative” freestyle skiing to dancing, because it is usually represented by an edit. Edits like the one I showed to Aset and Delaney, generally have music and a basic theme, such as a style of music and clothing representing a culture. The edit I showed to the students represented the hip-hop and rap culture, like the rest of the freestyle world at the moment.
Dancing is defined as “move[ing] rhythmically, usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.” Can an edit not be described in this way? There’s a song, and a bunch of guys dressed up like thugs “using prescribed gestures” off of jumps and on rails. The music may be put in after the tricks are performed; but, if the editor is skilled, it can seem like the athletes are moving to the beat.
In both dancing and skiing you compete athletically and artistically, which makes each of these a sport. To learn to dance, you can join an athletic team, but to practice skiing, you cannot go to Juilliard. Their similarities run close. It’s like politics, there are two sides, but their colors bleed.


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