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.

Presented by

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

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Entertainment

Just In