Meet the skiing pioneer who made hotdogging popular

Freestyle skiing had to start somewhere, and Wayne Wong had a lot to do with it.

Vancouver-born Wayne Wong was a favourite on the slopes in the 1970s

CBC's Weekend meets a Vancouverite who's turning the ski world upside down -- sometimes literally. 1:40

Freestyle skiing had to start somewhere, and Wayne Wong had a lot to do with it.

Wong (wearing #68) is mobbed by the crowd after completing a routine in Waterville Valley, New Hamsphire. (Weekend/CBC Archives)

"The sport is a new craze called 'hotdog skiing,' and a 23-year-old from Vancouver is its biggest star," said a reporter for the CBC-TV newsmagazine show Weekend in 1973.

Wong's acrobatic tricks on the slopes were getting a lot of attention from fans of all ages.

"I've been watching him on the slopes for the last couple of years. He's brought the sport along quite a bit," said one spectator at a New Hampshire hill where Wong was wowing the crowds. 

Doug Pfeiffer of Skiing magazine had nothing but praise for Wong.

'Outdoor Canadian type'

"He's a good healthy outdoor Canadian type, and the Americans love him," he said. "He's just charming and unpretentious, uncomplicated, a thoroughgoing competitor."

Hotdog skiing — also known as freestyle — was an outgrowth of the boom in in alpine skiing. The sport emphasized "technique and high-spirited imagination," according to the reporter.  

There were already two competing professional circuits for freestyle skiers.

"The guys who can really ski are the boys that go on the back side of the mountain and play when nobody's looking," added Pfeiffer.

Hotdog skier Wayne Wong finds he's getting a little too "uptight" on the pro circuit. 1:24

'Too many rules'

Wayne Wong was a guest on the Rene Simard Show in 1977 to talk about freestyle skiing.

The CBC camera followed Wong as he completed a routine, twisting down the hill on one ski and using his poles to twirl through the air as the crowd cheered him on.

But Wong said he was finding the freestyle circuit restrictive.

"Right now I'm getting a little bit uptight about it, 'cause it's putting a little bit too many rules down," he said. "Where freestyling, I think you just gotta go out and do your own thing without people telling you what to do, and where to do it."