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How to watch freestyle skiing aerials at the Winter Olympics: A guide to understanding and appreciating the sport

What time is freestyle skiing aerials on at the Olympics? Plus all the rules, streaming information, listings, and more.

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2018 VISA Freestyle International - Qualifying Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Winter Olympics promise all manner of skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and things of that nature, but there are so many subsets of all these things that a casual fan might not be aware of. For instance, one of the more interesting events at the Olympics is the freestyle skiing aerials competition.

Competitors are judged on their jumps off ramps — earning or losing points for their takeoff, jump form, and landing. They will also incorporate twists and turns to increase the degree of difficulty, which is also assessed by the judges before assigning a final score.

It’s intensely difficult — the awareness required to determine where every part of your body is could be considered one of the toughest skills to learn in the entire Olympics. When you’re up to 20 meters above your eventual landing spot, telling up from down and where your skis actually are is extremely tough.

The event has both men’s and women’s events.

What time and how can I watch?

The women’s aerials qualifications are set for Thursday, Feb. 15 at 6 a.m., with the finals taking place at the same time the next day. Men’s aerials qualifications begin on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 6 a.m. ET. The finals begin at the same time a day later, with NBC offering live streams of the events.

You can also live stream NBC, NBCSN, and the Olympic Channel coverage via FuboTV on your computer or mobile devices.

Why should I quit my job and become a lifelong devotee of freestyle skiing aerials?

Because flying high through the air with no certainty that one is going to land pleasantly is fun. There’s an element of danger, but there’s also just an element of sick flips and spins. What better way is there to measure true athletic talent than the dopest of backflips? There isn’t one.

What are the rules of freestyle skiing aerials? What’s the weirdest rule?

Skiers launch off large jumps and do either spins or flips, or a combination of the two. The competitors are judged based on their take-off, their execution of the moves in the air, and the cleanness of their landing.

The total score is calculated by adding together the air, form and landing scores, then multiplying by the jump’s degree of difficulty. The maximum possible score for a jump is 150, with the maximum number of points for air, form, and landing being 30.0 and the maximum degree of difficulty being 5.0.

As far as weird rules are concerned, there aren’t many. The precision with which competitors are expected to land is pretty intense. The word “grace” is used. Think of a diver trying to create the smallest splash or a gymnast sticking a landing with no bending of the knees.

What can I talk about to impress the freestyle skiing aerials enthusiast in my life?

Don’t use words, just do your own backflips and stuff (please do not try to do backflips). The United States is sending six aerial skiers to Pyeongchang, with Mac Bohonnon of the men and Ashley Caldwell of the women expected to perform well.

Whose jersey should I buy?

Caldwell, for sure. She’s the reigning world champion in women’s aerials, and is competing in her third Olympics. She’s the real deal.

What is the sport’s AMERICA RATING?

The United States has won the most medals of any nation when it comes to freestyle skiing, and for aerials specifically, the Americans have done well. The men have one gold and two silver medals in the event’s history. The women have one gold medal in the event.

What’s the best GIF I can watch from freestyle skiing aerials?