Behold the Wonder of Ski Ballet

The almost-Olympic sport once delighted fans with one-and-a-half twisting poll flips on a bunny slope

Like millions of people around the world, I spent my Sunday watching several Winter Olympic competitions in Sochi, including cross-country skiing and figure skating. But I never dared to dream that these two sports could possibly be mushed together. Figure skating—on skis? It sounds like an elaborate way to purposefully pull a groin muscle.

But it is (or was) a real sport with an improbably classy name: Ski Ballet. This transcendental snow dance, a campy celebration of twirling and thrusting, was a demonstration sport at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics. It's as if ballet dancers were forced to wear skis on a bunny slope and said: No matter, I shall still dance.

You won't find any downhill skiers executing a "one-and-a-half twisting poll flip" this year, unless something goes terribly wrong, but our collective memory of ski ballet lives on forever on YouTube. Here are two videos: the first from a non-Olympic competition (via 22 Words) and the second from the 1988 Calgary games.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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