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Ahead of her time: Conny Kissling

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On 6 February 1986, the first World Ski Freestyle Championships were coming to an end in Tignes, France. At the top of the podium was someone who had been shaping the sport for several years – and would continue to do so, in spectacular fashion. Conny Kissling from Switzerland won gold in the combination, consisting of moguls (moguls), aerials (jumping) and acro (ballet – which is no longer held today), ahead of Canada's Anna Fraser.

From 1983 to 1992, Kissling won the overall World Cup ten times in a row, celebrating 106 World Cup victories, mainly in the combined and ballet. She would also have been an Olympic champion if acro had been part of the official programme in Albertville in 1992. Four years earlier, the Swiss skier had come third in ballet and moguls in Calgary. At that time, the entire discipline was only admitted as a demonstration competition. The wheels of the Olympic movement grinded slower than they do today; FIS had already recognized freestyle skiing as a discipline of its own in 1979, developing its own set of rules regarding jumping techniques to improve safety for the athletes.

Though a pity that Conny Kissling didn't manage to achieve official Olympic honours, her legacy remains untouched: the five-time World Championship medalist – who took elegance, acrobatics and dancing on the snow to the next level – is still the most successful freestyle skier ever, leading  the way for the generations of ski freestylers who have followed her.