It’s all down hill in alpine skiing, and oh — what a fun ride.
Fun to watch, too.
While humans have been sliding down snow covered mountains for thousands of years, skiing as a recreational and competitive sport did not catch on until the 19th century.
The first slalom competition was held in 1922 in Mürren, Switzerland, and both men’s and women’s alpine skiing debuted at the Olympics in 1936, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Today, there are many types of alpine ski competitions, but they can be categorized into two major disciplines: Racing, which includes Downhill, Super-G (aka super giant), Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Combined, and Freestyle which involves moguls, aerials, halfpipe and skicross.
Here’s a quick run down of alpine ski racing events (freestyle we’ll leave for another day and a separate post):
Downhill is all about ultra-speed. Skiers start at the top of a long, wide race course, and ski down as fast as possible to the finish line, reaching speeds of up to 93mph (150 klicks). I like this race – point ’em down hill and go – fast with just a few easy turns. It’s a great experience for a recreational skier like me. But, can’t image going anywhere close to 90mph on skies. Elite athletes make it look easy, but it’s dangerous and takes courage as well as skill.
The Super-G is similar to the Downhill as the race course is wide and fast, but it requires a skier to make sharper and more frequent turns than in Downhill, making for lots of speed and thrills.
In Slalom, technique is the major focus. Skiers must maneuver around a bunch of poles and make very sharp, quick turns while going as fast as possible. I tried to go down a slalom course once. Think I got through maybe 3 gates, and that ended my career. I watch Slalom in awe.
The Giant Slalom is best described as somewhere between the Super-G and Slalom because the race course requires turns around gates spaced closer together than a Super-G race, but not quite like the turns in Slalom.
Traditionally, an alpine Combined competition consists of one run of Downhill and two runs of Slalom, raced on separate days, and the skier with the fastest total ‘combined’ time is the winner. A modified version of combined competition is called the Super Combined with one speed race (either a Downhill or Super-G) and one Slalom.
Sun Valley, Idaho was the host to the 2018 US Alpine Championships March 21 – 26, and it was huge and fast with US Ski Team members, Olympians, collegiate and international skiers competing on Bald Mountain for men’s and women’s titles in the Alpine Combined, Super G, Slalom and Giant Slalom.
Kicking off the competition on March 21, Olympian Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT) won the alpine combined national title, and the young, talented A.J. Hurt (Carnelian Bay, CA) got the women’s alpine combined victory, her first national title.
You can watch video recordings of the men’s Giant Slalom competition. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or select from the video posts on the media player below ↓
Telemark skiing is a hardcore test of stamina, power, speed and grace in the mountains. Watch 2018 FIS World Cup Telemark competition LIVE, and if you miss a race, video recordings are available for viewing.
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