Performing a dressage test in an enclosed arena. Performing aerial twists and flips off a ski ramp. The sports of dressage and aerial skiing couldn’t be more different… or do they actually have more in common than we think?
While watching some of the Winter Olympics with family last weekend, I recall saying out loud “this sport is crazy… it’s falling, with style!” while the aerial skiers were doing their wild and crazy thing. Truly, to the uneducated eye, it looks as though they’re totally bending the laws of physics and courting possible death while doing so.
Then again, there are many aspects of our favorite sports that bewilder viewers who aren’t sure what it is they’re looking at, and chief among them has to be dressage. Yes, any rider can appreciate the beauty of a well-trained horse and quiet rider working in harmony to perform challenging maneuvers accurately with expression… but that kind of nuance is usually lost on a lay crowd. (Refer to my earlier “falling with style!” comment.)
At first glance, these two sports couldn’t possibly be more different: one of them follows a prescribed test in a flat, regular space aboard a horse. The other appears to be a wild, no-holds barred adrenaline rush involving flying through the air in the winter.
Unsurprisingly, my totally uneducated take on aerial skiing paints only a tiny part of the picture. But you don’t need to take it from me — in this two-part video series from the FEI, NAJYRC dressage gold medalist Ayden Uhlir does a little sports-swapping with Winter Olympians Mac Bohonnon and Nick Goepper, and all three of them find that we’re not so different after all.
Have you ever gotten the opportunity to swap sports with a fellow athlete? Tell us more about the experience in the comments section!
In an effort to bridge more sport-to-sport understanding in college, the equestrian team and track and field team swapped practices: we started a few of the school’s top runners on the lunge line, and then slogged our way through a track practice perfecting the skills of the baton pass. Everyone went home with increased respect for what the other athlete did in a day!