When reflecting on skiing’s long and prolific history, perhaps no period captures the sport’s purity, raw expression, and senseless good time attitude better than the “Hot-Dogging Era” of the 70’s and 80’s.
Hot-Dogging, which is both synonymous and vastly different from what we now consider “freestyle skiing,” consisted of three disciplines– aerials, moguls, and the often forgotten practice of “ski ballet.”
And while ski ballet no longer graces 21st century ski slopes, the stars of this throwback sport broke down barriers and ultimately made the ski industry what it is today. Without them– The X-Games, snowboarding, and Olympic freestyle events would likely cease to exist. So in order to honor these forgotten pioneers, we take a look where these fancy footed heroes are today and what they’ve accomplished in-between.
Ski Ballet Stars Of The 70’s And 80’s
While Wayne Wong is known for way more than just his ski ballet, the Canadian from Nashoba Valley continues to serve as one of the godfathers of skiing. His freestyle attitude helped inspire the likes of the New Canadian Airforce and Freeride powder skiers alike across the globe.
Suzy Chaffee AKA “Suzy Chapstick“ was every skier’s heart-throb during the 70’s and 80’s. Following the end of her career as a ski racer, she pursued ski ballet almost exclusively and perhaps no female did it with more style, grace, and Hollywood panache than Ms. Chapstick.
These days, Chaffee spends a large chunk of her time advocating for equality in women’s snow sports. She was the first women to serve on the US Olympic Committee.
Now living in Reno, Bob Howard was once a ski ballet champ whose freestyle attitude flew in the face of rigid Austrian ski technique. Instead, Howard implemented flips and a hot-dogging style that would plant the seeds of what would become freestyle and aerial skiing today.
If Bob Howard was the American-male who embodied ski ballet , Genia Fuller was his female foil. Fuller, who currently occupies a top spot in the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame was one of the first freestylers to drop their poles. Did you hear that jib kids? Thank the lady.
The champion of the 1988 ski ballet at the Calgary Olympics, Hermann Reitberger was the bad boy of ski ballet. His look was all Guns N’ Roses and his skiing matched his rock and roll style. Although we’re not sure what Hermann is up to these days, we imagine he’s mastering a revolutionary new form of ski ballet on the slopes of Garmisch, Germany.
Also Read: The Rise and Fall of Ski Ballet