Ski cross: an analysis of the newcomer

In Kuwait, the IOC Executive Board decided that ski cross would be officially included on the programme of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games – so long as the Organising Committee for these Games also agrees. So ski cross: where does it come from, what does it consist of, and why this choice?

A brief description of a young but growing steadily discipline.

X Games

, the birthplace of ski cross

Also known as

skier X


skier cross

, ski cross has its roots over the pond. It was born in the USA, where in 1995 the

X Games

were created, a world reference for extreme sports competitions. Just like the Olympic Games, there are two editions: summer and winter. In 1997 the first

Winter X Games

were organised, in

Big Bear Lake

in California. Among the official disciplines was one hitherto not contended: ski cross. In 2003, i.e. six years after its birth, ski cross was recognised by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and was integrated in its freestyle category. In 2010, it will become an official event on the programme of the Vancouver Games. Ski cross remains on the

Winter X Games

programme and is one of the most eagerly awaited and spectacular events.

Elbow to elbow

The principle of ski cross is quite simple. Inspired by moto cross, it consists of a race along a route that comprises various natural or artificial elements: moguls, bends, jumps and ramps. Once the qualifications are over, the 16 female and 32 male skiers (depending on the event) who have obtained the best times in the individual events can take part in the competition. The real race can now begin. Four by four, the skiers compete against each other and race down the slopes as quickly as possible - only the first two will qualify for the next stage. The races, also called knockout rounds, continue like this until there are only four skiers left in contention. At the end of this final race, the winners are awarded their medals on the podium.

Ski cross stars

Since the debut of ski cross, the podium has often been occupied by the same skiers. Among the women, Canada’s Aleisha Cline is a living legend, with four gold medals (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003) and one bronze (2005) at the

Winter X Games

, and two bronze medals (2003, 2004) won in the World Cup ranking. She does not have to worry about the future of women’s ski cross, however, as Austria’s Karin Huttary has taken up the baton: two golds (2004, 2006) and two silvers (2003, 2005) at the

Winter X Games

, winner of the 2003 World Cup and World Champion in 2005. For the men, the USA’s Reggie Crist quickly made a name for himself at the

Winter X Games

racking up two gold medals (2002, 2005), two silver medals (2003, 2006) and one bronze (2004). Talented Swede Lars Léwen won fame at both the

Winter X Games

: two golds (2003, 2006) and one silver (2004), and the World Cup, where he finished third in 2004.

Olympism and ski cross

Ski cross is therefore still a young sport, but one that is rapidly evolving. Its inclusion on the programme of the next Winter Games in Vancouver is proof of this. For the IOC EB, this new event will modernise the Winter Games. It will also arouse great interest among young people and will be able to stand out thanks to its spectacular and competitive dimensions.