Skiing off a large jump and flying through the air — it's a thrilling sensation, but one that can come with heavy consequences when things don't go according to plan.
If you want to see this captured in one event, look no further than freeski big air, a competition which will make its Olympic debut in February. The format is simple: Each skier ascends to the top of a large ramp, then drops in, goes off a large jump, and executes one of the biggest and best tricks. Each trick will be done within just a few brief seconds of hangtime.
The thrill of hitting big jumps is a feeling that U.S. freeskier Nick Goepper knows well. The two-time Olympic slopestyle medalist has done it thousands of times, and usually he can just put himself "on autopilot" and land his tricks. He also knows the other side of the sport, where one mistake — a rushed takeoff, a missed landing — can result in injury.
Josh Dueck, a former freestyle skier, and Jay Rawe, a former BASE jumper, both had life-changing accidents and now compete as sit skiers, but their love of big air has not dissipated. Eight years after his accident, Dueck became the first person to land a backflip on snow in a sit ski. Rawe has also been bringing freestyle elements to adaptive skiing, last year becoming the first athlete to land a cork 720 in a sit ski.
Goepper, Dueck and Rawe all joined NBC Olympics' podcast, "The Podium," to discuss their passion for big jumps and big air — no matter the cost. Listen to the full episode below.
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Season 3 of The Podium is hosted by Lauren Shehadi. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will be released weekly on Tuesdays ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, followed by daily episodes throughout the duration of the Games.