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Freestyle skiing coach has watched sport gain respect

Bruce Bolesky Bruce Bolesky | Photo: WNYT.

February 15, 2018 05:18 PM

The moguls are machine made and jump sizes are regulated nowadays.

Bruce Bolesky remembers when it was a lot looser out here. He's seen freestyle skiing change a lot over the 20 years he's been coaching future Olympians at Stratton Mountain School. What he used to do back when he won the medals in his Loudonville basement, got a whole different reaction. 

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"They thought I was insane. Because it wasn't Olympic, you didn't see it on television very much, but it was very uncontrolled.

Nobody had really heard of freestyle back when Bolesky got his first pair of skis as a kid in Melrose. Then he saw a Pepsi commercial with Wayne Wong -- a pioneer of what was then called "hot dog skiing."

"He did a 360 and he was skiing down these moguls. To me it was unbelievable," Bolesky exclaimed.

That's all it took. Bolesky soon was one of the crazy guys on the slopes doing flips and spins at Willard Mountain. He joined the freestyle team and by senior year at Hoosic Valley, he was the best amateur in the country.

"I won the national championship when I was 17. I was a high school senior and it opened my world," he beamed.

Fast forward again to 1988 in Calgary. After a pro career, Bolesky -- in polka dots, made the US Ski Team the first year freestyle was an Olympic sport. There were three events, -- aerials, moguls, and ballet.

The Olympic Committee got rid of ballet eventually. It was a routine set to music, including jumps from the ground, and flips off poles.

Bolesky, older, 27 by then, thought he had the best chance in ballet. He finished sixth -- and says that was a good result.

"If I say, 'I was on the U.S. Ski Team, did you ever go to the Olympics?' It's actually nice to say that, because not a whole lot of people do," he pointed out.

The title "Olympian" brought Bolesky other opportunities. He had trampolines and a conveyer belt he brought on the road showing off freestyle without snow. It even landed him on the "Mickey Mouse Club."

Nowadays, Bolesky coaches the freestyle skiers of the future, like his 16-year-old son Blake, year-round.

Freestyle skiing is a well-known worldwide sport now, but Bolesky still remembers the old days.

"The 'hot dog' days, it was pretty loose," he recalled. "In some ways, that can be more fun."

You can take the "hot dog" out of freestyle, but you can't take the "hot dog" out of the skier.

Credits

WNYT Staff

Copyright 2018 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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