Host City: Sochi, Russia
Date Started: February 6, 2014
Date Finished: February 8, 2014
Participants: 264 (139 men and 125 women) from 30 countries
Youngest Participant: Perrine Laffont (15 years, 102 days)
Oldest Participant: Tomáš Kraus (39 years, 355 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 30 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Canada (9 medals)
Freestyle skiing events were held at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in the Mountain Cluster of venues in Krasnaya Polyana, about 60 kilometres northeast of Sochi/Adler, where the indoor events were contested at the Coastal Cluster. The entire Mountain Cluster of venues was built specifically for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. The freestyle skiing program was expanded by four events with halfpipe and slopestyle events for both men and women added to the standard program of moguls, aerials, and skiier-cross. Freestyle skiing in Sochi was dominated by North America, with Canada and the United States winning 7 of the 10 gold medals, and over half of all medals awarded – 16 of 30.
Freestyle skiing was marked by some tragedy leading up to the events. Prior to the Games, Brazilian freestyler Lais Souza was training in Utah when she was tragically injured in a fall, rendering her quadriplegic after a cervical spine injury. Souza had previously competed at the Olympics in gymnastics in 2004-08 and was looking to become the first Olympics gymnast to also compete at the Winter Olympics. During the Games, Russian freestyler Mariya Komassarova was also injured training, breaking and dislocating her back. She underwent several surgeries but it was later announced that she was a paraplegic, although it is early in her recovery.
One year before Sochi, Canadian freestyle skiier Sarah Burke, who would have been a medal contender in Sochi, fell and hit her head while training. She sustained a severe head injury and died a few days later. Several of the Sochi freestylers attempted to compete with a black armband in her memory but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would not allow this, quoting Olympic Charter rules against advertising, though their statement seemed only petulant and silly. In Burke’s honor, the skiiers came up with something better, before the IOC knew about it. Her ashes were scattered over the halfpipe where she would have competed, leaving her memory there in perpetuity.
After all that the events seemed but an afterthought but they went off well. The snowboarders initially had complaints about the difficulty and safety of the slopestyle course, and the layout of the halfpipe. But some changes were made and no major injuries occurred during the competitions. The freestylers competed after the snowboarders, for the most part, and they had few complaints.