Russian Freestyle Federation

Freestyle, one of the most beautiful winter sports, has been developing in this country for a little longer than a quarter of the century, though the first ski summersault in the USSR was done in the far away 1927. Many years have passed from that almost circus performance to the full-scale sport.

Andrey Bokarev
President of the Russian Freestyle Federation

The lovers of modern freestyle spoke in a loud voice almost half a century after that in the 1970-s. Moscow, Leningrad, Riga, Chusovoy, Chirik, Nikolaev were the first freestyle center in the Soviet Union. Nobody and nowhere trained sportsmen in this sport. Gymnasts, divers and trampoline athletes joined ski ballet and aerial skiing. Mountain skiers joined mogul. The pillars became those schools where these sports have been developed for many years. As it is known the Soviet Union wasn't among the pioneers of freestyle development, but it was the Soviet Union, which was the first to guess that free style sooner or later would become the Olympic sport and started to prepare for this. As it was accustomed, they founded a research group, worked out a program for a complex and coordinated development.

The approachability of freestyle sport facilities made it possible to organize the work of sport sections, clubs in many regions. The 1980-s of the last century became the period of the emergence and intensive development of once exotic for Russia sport, which at once and in a loud voice started to speak Russian.

In 1987 in Chimgan near Tashkent there emerged the first champions of the USSR. It was Vasilisa Semenchuk in aerial skiing, Anna Vershinina and Stanislav Sokolenko in mogul.

At the World Championship in 1991 in Lake Placid they won two gold medals: Vasilisa Semenchuk in aerial skiing and Sergey Shchupletsov in combination became the strongest athletes. Combination is a competition for all-round sportsmen where they competed in all three disciplines: mogul, aerial and ballet. But this was only the first star page of Russian freestyle.

1992 became the birth year of the Russian Freestyle Federation. It is interesting to know that the first President of the Federation was a well-known Soviet football goalkeeper and later TV commentator Valery Maslachenko. The country owes exactly him that a new sport was developing at the beginning of the 1990-s of the last century with giant strides. The Federation was set up in order to develop, advocate and popularize freestyle in this country, increase the role of physical training and sports in all-round and harmonious development of the personality. Looking ahead we should say that today freestyle is being developed in 17 regions of Russia.

And then in the 1990-s Russian sportsmen continued to surely storm the highest tournament peaks. In 1993 at the World Championship in Austrian Altenmarkt we achieved another success: Sergey Shchupletsov won the world title in combination, and Natalia Orekhova became a silver medalist of the Championship. For Sergey it was a second gold medal in combination in his sport career! Thanks to its successes Russian school of freestyle strengthened its positions among the leaders. Skiers from Canada and Switzerland, Italy and Japan came to study our know-how.

1995. Freestyle was divided into two components: mogul and aerial skiing, which had the Olympic status and ballet was left on the Olympic road-side. It's a pity as Russians were undoubted fashion leaders in ski ballet. The group of the talented coach Sergey Shaibin has been dominating on the international arena for long six years. Elena Batalova won the World Championship in 1995, Oksana Kushchenko – in 1997, Natalia Razumovskaya – in 1999. There were no more World Championship in this sport. It means that all champion titles in the 1990-s were won only by Russian sportswomen. At the last in the 20th century World Championship Oksana Kushchenko added to these medals a silver medal. Stable top results at once became a norm and Russians were recognized as favorites of the most prestigious international tournaments. We actually stormed the vanguard of the world freestyle.

At the first for Russian sportsmen 16th Winter Olympiad of 1992 in Albertville, France Elizaveta Kozhevnikova won a silver medal and from the Olympic champion an American Donna Winebreht she was separated only by 0.19 points. Elizaveta Kozhevnikova by right is considered the first Russian Olympic victor.

Her leading position Elizaveta proved in the Norwegian Lillehammer too (1994) having won a bronze medal in mogul. It is true, that many specialists were inclined to state that her brilliant performance with the highest speed among all mogul skiers on the trail (29.0 sec.) really deserved a gold medal. But according to the rules in mogul it is forbidden to file a protest under no circumstances. Lisa was very satisfied with her performance and the discussion on the topic of refereeing she still believes senseless.

At that very Olympiad more than 20,000 spectators passionately followed the dramatic contest of three grandees: the world champion Jean-Luc Brassard from Canada, the world and previous Olympic champion (1992) Edgar Grospiron from France and the world champion Sergey Shchupletsov from Russia. In this opposition Sergey continued Russian silver Olympic beginning.

At the competitions of mogul skiers at the World Championship of 1995 Sergey managed to add to all his medals one more – a bronze one. In the spring of that year, a real victor tragically died. The life of the wonderful guy and a brilliant career of the outstanding sportsman, who won two world top titles, the Olympic silver medal and 17 victories at the World up broke off.

Russian freestylers strengthened their leading positions in the new century as well. At the World Championship of 2003 Dmitry Arkhipov became our first world champion of the 21st century in aerial skiing, Maria Cherkasova – a silver medalist in pair mogul. At the 20th Games in Torino (2006) aerial skier Vladimir Lebedev got on the bronze step of the Olympic podium. Ruslan Sharifullin won a bronze medal at the World Championship of 2007 in pair mogul.

The total result of the performance of ten Russian freestylers medalists is as follows: 16 medals of which 8 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals at the World Championships, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals – at the Olympic Games.

It seemed that the gold Olympic peak was very close. But there occurred a certain downturn. Already two World Championships ended for Russian sportsmen without medals. It is true that the season of 2010/2011 again instilled some hope in us. The new national team successfully performed at many prestigious international competitions. The team, the majority of the members of which still have the right to compete in junior competitions, had four podiums at the World Cup stages (mogul skiers Ekaterina Stolyarova, Alexander Smyshlyaev and Anastasia Gunchenko, Egor Korotkov in ski-cross), four medals of the Winter Universiade, of which one was gold (Alexander Kerner, mogul), European Cups among men in ski-cross (Alexander Bondar) and among women in mogul (Kamilya Simakina). In the world ratings Russian are among first ten strongest mogul skiers.

The next season also brought high awards. At the World Cup stages only Russian won 9 podiums. Aerial skier Pavel Krotov and mogul skier Sergey Volkov managed to win first places. Ski-crosser Egor Korotkov was two times second and Maria Komissarova, a debutant of the competitions of such level won a silver medal of the World Cup stage. Elena Muratova won the European Cup in mogul. At the World Championship for juniors Russians won three medals.

Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Chairperson of the Russian Government, President of the Olympic Committee of Russia, while congratulating sportsmen, coaches and specialists with the 25th anniversary of the development of freestyle in this country, noted today Russia is still on the leading positions in this sport and the fans have the right to expect that our freestylers will perform brilliantly in international competitions and, of course, win at the Olympiad in Sochi.

Of course, the Olympic Games in Sochi are no doubt the priority goal of our work but simultaneously today the Federation is solving other problems as well. We are thinking of creating modern conditions for the training of young sportsmen, who will successfully perform after the Olympiad in Sochi too. They are building new trails and hills, open freestyle branches at sports schools for children and teenagers. And this is done even in those regions where until not very long ago they saw freestyle competitions only on TV (e.g. Ivanovo and Samara Oblasts). Modern freestyle centers have been built not only in Sochi but near St. Petersburg (the settlement of Toksovo) and Chaikovsky (the Perm Krai). They modernized and brought to the international level the complexes in Bashkiria, Chusovoy (the Perm Krai), Krasnoyarsk, Murmansk, Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk Oblasts.

It is necessary to say that Russia was a pioneer in holding the World Cup freestyle stages in the artificial facility. Moscow hosted already four World Cup aerial stages on the gigantic ramp, built in the center of the city, which allowed to attract thousands of fans. The International Ski Federation recommended this experience to other national federations.

In the partnership with other organizations the RFF held in 2012 and 2013 five test pre-Olympic competitions. Two of them were international ones. This was the European Cup stage (2012) and the World Cup stage (2013). What is more, in 2012 the International Ski Federation taking into account a high level of the participants raised the status of the competitions to super continental. In 2013 this was the largest of all the stages held during the whole history of freestyle development in the world. The stage was held in four disciplines: aerial skiing, mogul, ski-cross and half-pipe. Unfortunately, the weather conditions didn't allow to hold competitions in slope-style. Sportsmen, specialists and heads of the national and international organizations highly praised Russian hosts of the competitions. There is no doubt that the pre-Olympic and Olympic experience will allow us in future to hold even more largest world competitions on the territory of Russia.

With every passing year the advocacy work on the attraction of young people to this beautiful sport is gaining impetus. All together this brings results. The main thing is that more and more young people engage in freestyle on a regular basis.

Russian Freestyle Federation Russian Freestyle Federation