Alpine skiing is the other name for downhill skiing. In this sport, the skiers try to complete a downhill skiing course marked by gates in the shortest time possible.
The gates are about 26 feet apart through which the racer must go through. Skiers first complete a timed practice run after which they go for the actual race against time. The contestant who finishes the competition in the shortest time without missing any gates wins.
Kinds Of Downhill Skiing
Four categories exist in competitive alpine skiing; namely, downhill, slalom, giant slalom, and super-giant slalom.
Races of the downhill skiing category and those of super-giant slalom have few turns in the race course. As a result of the few turns, the racers may reach speeds topping 100km/h. On the other hand, slalom races have many short tight turns. Whereas, giant-slaloms have more widely spaced turns.
History Of Downhill Skiing
Kiandra, Australia was the birthplace of alpine skiing in 1861 where it began as a club sport. In a few years, it also started getting popular in the Swiss Alps and North America. Slalom was the category that garnered the most attention during this time.
In 1930, the FIS recognized skiing as an official sport. Consequently, it held the first downhill world championships the next year. After a few years, in Germany 1936, downhill skiing debuted as a combined event in the Olympics. However, it was in 1948 at St. Moritz, Switzerland that this sport got the status of a medal event.
As of today, most alpine skiing races take place at ski resorts. These resorts have ski lifts for transporting the contestants up to the mountain. The management teams maintain ideal conditions by controlling avalanches and grooming the snow for obvious safety reasons. However, it is the choice of some skiers to pursue the sport in less controlled conditions. We call this practice, extreme skiing.
Traveling downhill on snow at speeds exceeding 80km/h can be very dangerous. Hence the FIS brought about some measures to ensure the security of the contestants. For instance, it is mandatory for all participants to wear crash helmets.
Along with that, a jury oversees the race. He/she has the power to remove skiers who look weak or unprepared. Furthermore, organizers sometimes add more gates to slow the skiers’ descent. All this is appropriate as downhill skiing can lower the spirits of even the most experienced racers.
Parts of Europe, Australia, North America, East Asia, and New Zealand are some areas where alpine skiing is prevalent. These areas have the ideal weather conditions for skiing and tourist infrastructure. Hence, they act as “ski hubs,” especially in the winter months. One notable mention is of the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Canada. This resort is the go-to place if you enjoy skiing. It is also famous as it hosted the skiing event of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.