FIS World Championships: The rules of the events |

FIS World Championships: The rules of the events

Jaelin Kauf competes in the Visa Freestyle International World Cup at Deer Valley Resort last season. She is a frontrunner in women’s moguls. (Park Record file photo)

The FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships are here. Just as Hollywood begins to wrap the Sundance Film Festival, make the most of the Wasatch’s biggest sports event since the 2002 Winter Olympics with our guide of how the finals event of each sport will work, what it takes to win and a small sampling of likely medalists.

Ski- and snowboardcross

Ski- and snowboardcross are, essentially, races over obstacle courses. Four racers will race down the course at any given time, contending with varied terrain where the jumps aren’t so much launch pads for stylish tricks as they are challenges to be overcome quickly. Whoever crosses the line first wins. In team snowboardcross, a male and female competitor from each nation will race, with the male group going first. As soon as the male snowboarder from one team finishes, their female counterpart’s gate is released via transponder, and she will then race to the bottom. The first team to get both a male and female competitor across the line wins. There is no team skicross.

Athletes to watch
Men’s skicross: Victor Oenling Norberg, Sweden; Brady Lemon, Canada; Bastien Midol, France.
Women’s skicross: Sandra Naeslund, Sweden; Kelsey Serwa, Canada; Marielle Thompson, Canada.
Team snowboardcross: Nick Baumgartner, USA.

Freeskiing and snowboarding

Say it with us: “Steez.” The combination of style and ease, applied to an ever-involving arsenal of flips, grabs and spins, is at the heart of all freeskiing and snowboarding events. Halfpipe, big air and slopestyle will be on display at the World Championships. The events are all judged, with scores based on technique, degree of difficulty, and originality.

In halfpipe, athletes will ride through the 22-foot-tall Eagle Superpipe that runs to the base area of the Park City side of Park City Mountain Resort adjacent to Old Town. Athletes will fly out of the pipe five or six times per run with jumps that can reach more than 11 feet from the lip of the halfpipe. Look for back-to-back double flips with multiple twists, garnished with stylish grabs. Athletes will get three runs down Eagle Superpipe, of which their best single run score is counted.

Athletes to watch
Women’s snowboard halfpipe: Chloe Kim, USA.
Men’s snowboard halfpipe: Scotty James, Australia; Yoto Tutsuka, Japan.
Women’s ski halfpipe: Cassie Sharpe, Canada; Kelly Sildaru, Estonia; Brita Sigourney, USA.
Men’s ski halfpipe: Alex Ferreira, USA; David Wise, USA; Aaron Blunck, USA.


In slopestyle, skiers and snowboarders will compete on a course that starts with a section of rails, then a series of three jumps. In the rails, watch for unorthodox ways of entering and exiting a grind, with multiple spins, and perhaps a flip. Judges will also listen for indications that the skier or boarder has tapped a rail or other obstacle, which can add points to a run. On the jumps, athletes will perform double and, if there is room on the Pick N’ Shovel course, triple flips with multiple spins. Distinguishing grabs will also help set athletes apart. A maxed-out jump would consist of something like a triple flip in corkscrew rotation with up to five spins. Athletes will get three runs each down Pick N’ Shovel, of which their best run will be counted.

Athletes to watch
Women’s skiing slopestyle: Tess Ledeaux, France; Sarah Hoefflin, Switzerland.
Men’s skiing slopestyle: Oystein Braaten, Norway; McRae Williams, USA (Park City); Alex Hall, USA (Park City).
Women’s snowboard slopestyle: Laurie Blouin, Canada; Jamie Anderson, USA.
Men’s snowboard slopestyle: Red Gerard, USA; Mark McMorris, Canada; Mons Røisland, Norway.

Big air

In big air, athletes will perform one trick from one very large jump on Doc’s Run, located at the Canyons Village side of Park City Mountain Resort in between Park City and I-80. This is where spectators can watch for triple flips with as many as five rotations. Athletes will get three attempts each, of which the top two scores will be counted. The truly world class will distinguish themselves by performing flawless, unique tricks spinning in both directions. Only one spin from each direction (clockwise and counterclockwise) will be counted toward each athlete’s final score, and each jump cannot be the same trick.

Athletes to watch
Women’s ski big air: Mathilde Gremaud, Switzerland; Johanne Killi, Norway.
Men’s ski big air: Alexander Beaulieu-Marchand, Canada; Birk Ruud, Norway.
Women’s snowboard big air: Laurie Blouin, Canada, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, New Zealand. Anna Gasser, Austria.
Men’s snowboard big air: Otsaku, Japan; Ståle Sandbech, Norway.

Parallel snowboard racing

Parallel snowboard racing events are all about carving. The races are head-to-head, pitting snowboarders against each other as they race around flags to reach the bottom of the course the fastest. Parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom racing will be held at Park City Mountain’s CB run, on the Park City side of Park City Mountain Resort to looker’s right of the Eagle Superpipe.

Athletes will be paired against each other through qualifying runs, then will go through a two-run elimination process. The top-ranked rider will race the bottom-ranked rider.

Athletes to watch
Men’s parallel snowboard racing: Andreas Prommegger, Austria; AJ Muss, USA.
Women’s parallel snowboard racing: Abby Champagne, USA (Park City); Ledecka Ester, Czech Republic.


There are three major components to moguls racing: turns, air and time.

Turns — how well the competitors keep their form while skiing the bumps — account for 60 percent of each athlete’s score. The other 40 percent comes from a combination of how fast someone finished the course, and the difficulty and quality of tricks performed off of two jumps.

Seven judges will score the event — five turn judges and two air judges. Timing is taken directly from an electronic timer.

The high and low scores from the turn judges will be thrown out, and the other three will be averaged together.

Dual moguls is a head-to-head version of the sport, in which two athletes perform side-by-side, and the loser is eliminated and the winner advances to the next round.

Moguls competitions will be held at Deer Valley Resort northeast of Old Town, accessed best from the Snow Park Lodge.

Athletes to watch
Women’s moguls: Perrine Laffont, France; Jaelin Kauf, USA.
Men’s moguls: Mikael Kingsbury, Canada; Ikuma Horishima; Japan; Brad Wilson, USA (Park City).


Aerials is a more stylized, gymnastic form of freestyle skiing. Athletes have a short, steep run that leads to a set of ramps – a double ramp and a triple ramp at the World Championship level, based on how many flips the ramp is designed to facilitate. Once in the air, the athletes do a combination of flips and twists while maintaining their form in hopes of earning the highest scores from a set of five judges. The high and low scores from the judges are thrown out, and the other three are added together, then multiplied by the degree of difficulty.

For the men’s competition, sets of quad- or quintuple-twisting triple backflips are the gold standard. The most aggressive trick used now is a double full, full, double full – or a pair of 720 backflips bracketing a twisting backflip in the middle of the jump. Another option is a move invented by Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, known as the full, triple full, full, better known as the hurricane. According to The Speedy Foundation, a nonprofit established after Peterson took his own life in 2011, the hurricane is a series of five twists over three backflips (three twists during the middle flip), which requires at least 50 feet of air to land. The majority of the women’s competitors will compete with double flips, one exception being Ashley Caldwell, who will perform triples. Aerials competitions will be held at Deer Valley Resort, accessed best from the Snow Park Lodge.

Athletes to watch
Women’s aerials: Hanna Huskova, Belarus; Ashley Caldwell, USA.
Men’s aerials: Jon Lillis, USA; Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine.

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