Meet Matej Svancer, Freestyle Skiing's Rising Star

The young Austrian is an athlete to watch at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games

Mobile 3
Getty Images

Freestyle skiing has been in constant flux throughout the past few decades with skiers pushing the limits of what was previously thought possible. In Big Air, for example, rotations are being pushed into the stratosphere with 1620s, 1800s, and 1980s being thrown with regularity. Even the coveted 2160, known as a future spin due to the degree of rotation being greater than the current year, has reared its head in competition. There has been contention about the state of the sport, where some argue that the spin-to-win judging has resulted in a loss of style within freestyle skiing, while others argue that the sheer difficulty of these tricks warrants the scores that they receive.

The newest generation of skiers has been changing this though, combining the sheer insanity of the tricks that they throw with hints of flavor throughout, often defying the laws of physics in ways that would make Newton rethink his career choices. One such skier is Matej Svancer, who at just 17 years old has locked numerous world cup titles under his belt.

Born in Prague, Svancer and his family relocated to Austria after spending a significant amount of time in Kaprun for summer and winter activities. Matej enrolled in an academy centered around athletics, and initially found himself racing on alpine skis. He soon found that he enjoyed freestyle skiing more, and quickly transitioned. In 2020, at just 15, Svancer won gold in Big Air at the Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland, followed by first place in Slopestyle at the FIS Junior World Championships the following year.

GettyImages 1201226708
David Ramos/Getty Images

Since then, he has transitioned to the World Cup circuit, where his prowess has truly been shown. Matej has landed freakishly insane tricks, like the world's first nose butter triple cork 1980 in competition. For reference, that is 5-and-a-half rotations with three off axis flips with a nose butter, in which the skier begins the rotation by spinning 180 degrees on their tips before leaving the lip of the jump, dramatically reducing the momentum one carries into the spin.

Svancer has also singlehandedly changed the judging system for Big Air competitions. In the same competition as the aforementioned trick, he did a switch (fakie) triple cork 1620, but landed sideways sliding into the landing before hopping back to switch. Normally this would be considered a fault, however it was done with such intention that it added difficulty and style to the trick, earning him the highest score in the competition up to that point.

On top of all of this, Svancer has shared clips of himself on Instagram snowboarding and also lacing triple corks, which raises an interesting question for the future of winter sports. If he improved his snowboarding skills, Matej could be compete in both skiing and snowboarding freestyle competitions at the highest level, something which has never been done before by any athlete.

As the Winter Olympics begin in Beijing, rest assured Matej Svancer will be there putting down some of the most insane tricks ever seen, and we simply can't wait to see what he does next. Tune in to the Big Air qualifiers on February 7th and remember his name, because he is sure to be one of the biggest names in winter sports in the coming years. After all, he is only 17.

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down