David Wise competes during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Halfpipe Final at the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Skiing is among the oldest winter sports, with ancient origins dating back thousands of years. But it took a few millennia for skiers to start figuring out how to perform some tricks. The first experimenters were alpine skiers in the 1930s who would put on acrobatic displays to wow fans. Still, competition wouldn’t come until decades later.

The International Ski Federation finally recognized freestyle skiing in 1979, and the sport made its Olympic debut until 1992 in Albertville, France. Moguls was the only freestyle event on the program, while aerials and ski ballet — think figure skating on skis — were demonstration sports. Aerials joined the Olympic program in 1994, and skicross was added in 2010. Halfpipe and slopestyle followed four years later in 2014. Now Beijing marks the debut of the newest freestyle skiing event: big air.

While freestyle skiing events are typically based on trick execution and skill, moguls skiers are also scored based on speed, while there are no judges in skicross: it’s simply a race to the finish.

Across the Olympic history of freestyle skiing, it’s neck-and-neck at the top of the medal table with Team USA and Canada even at 25 medals apiece. However, Canada has the edge in gold medals, 12 to nine. Only two freestyle skiers in Olympic history have won two gold medals, Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau in moguls and Team USA’s David Wise in halfpipe. 

In addition to the Olympic debut of men’s and women’s big air, there is a third new medal event with mixed team aerials. This event involves teams of three — at least one man and one woman — competing for the best combined score on the aerials course.

Aerials and big air will take place at Shougang Park — the world’s first permanent venue for big air — while all the others will take place in the Zhangjiakou cluster of venues.

Updated on January 28, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer

Only one person has ever won three freestyle skiing Olympic medals, Norway’s Kari Traa, who won one medal of each color in women’s moguls. Nobody has won three gold medals, however, and Team USA’s David Wise is aiming to be the first. After a slow start to the 2021–22 world cup season, Wise is rounding into shape with a podium finish at the January’s U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California. Some of his biggest competition could come from U.S. teammate Alex Ferreira, the 2018 silver medalist. 

Team USA won two moguls medals in the Olympic debut of freestyle skiing back in 1992, including the first women’s gold medal from Donna Weinbrecht. But it’s been since 2010 that an American won moguls gold on the women’s side, and since 1998 on the men’s side. The men’s competition has been dominated by Canada at the past three Games, first with Alexandre Bilodeau and currently with Mikael Kingsbury. France’s Perrine Laffont is the reigning women’s moguls Olympic gold medalist and the reigning world champion.

Nick Goepper (Lawrenceburg, Indiana): Goepper has been one of the top U.S. slopestyle skiers for the better part of a decade, winning two Olympic gold medals and a record four X Games gold medals during that time. The 26-year-old scored a second-place finish at Mammoth Mountain in January as he chased a third Olympic berth.

Brita Sigourney (Carmel, California): Sigourney is a halfpipe history maker; she’s the first woman to land a 1080 in competition. She won a bronze medal in her second Games four years ago, and now is after her first gold. The 32-year-old is also a world bronze medalist and has four Winter X Games medals.

Colby Stevenson (Park City, Utah): Stevenson, 24, is still looking for his first Olympic appearance. That would complete an incredible comeback story that started in 2016 when Stevenson was seriously injured in a car accident and placed in a medically induced coma for three days. But Stevenson was back on his skis just five months later. He closed out the 2020-21 world cup season with back-to-back slopestyle wins, his first since 2017.

Winter Vinecki (Gaylord, Michigan): Named for her parents’ favorite season, presumably now also hers, Vinecki has competed in aerials for 10 years along with being a distance runner. She made her first world cup podium in January 2021 with a win in Moscow and has made three more since. The 22-year-old nearly made the 2018 Olympic team before fracturing her face in a training run, and now she’s looking to make a comeback.

Meet the full U.S. freestyle ski team in this teamusa.org article.

Feb. 5 – Men’s moguls finals
Feb. 6 – Women’s moguls finals
Feb. 8 – Women’s big air finals
Feb. 9 – Men’s big air finals
Feb. 10 – Mixed team aerials finals
Feb. 14 – Women’s slopestyle and aerials finals
Feb. 15 – Men’s slopestyle finals
Feb. 16 – Men’s aerials finals
Feb. 17 – Women’s skicross finals
Feb. 18 – Women’s halfpipe finals, men’s skicross finals
Feb. 19 – Men’s halfpipe finals