Freeskiers and racers have had a history of not getting along. From infamous public feuds between Tanner Hall and Daron Rahlves, to the local "stick-chasers" bagging on the "swivel-hippers," the two factions of skiing haven't always seen each other goggle to goggle. Yet both sports are constantly evolving and as they get more modern, they both seem to be dropping their respective shields.
Freeskiers are switching to racing (Jon Olsson) and racers are moving over to freeskiing (tons of them). Episode 8 of Salomon Freeski TV, which droped on Tuesday, parallels these two blocs of skiing with freeskiers Chris Rubens and Mike Henitiuk going off to Tyrol, Austria, to witness the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbühel while spinning off powdery pillows and riding steep spine lines in the background of the race.
While Rubens and Henitiuk highlight the history and culture of Austrian skiing and the country's racing fervor, the fact is the birthplace of modern freeskiing -- North America -- and the cultural epicenter of ski racing -- Austria -- are not as homogenous in their skiing history as one would think. For instance, the first organized ski race events are said to have taken place in California in 1861 by gold-rushers on 15-foot long skis while the man that helped launched modern ski instruction by teaching the turn that allowed for a rapid rise in the popularity of recreational (see: free) skiing was Austrian Johannes Schneider. In brief, skiing is skiing and it sure has a long and cool history.