Olympic Sports >> Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing

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The Competition

Objective

The aim is to ski down a steep slope as fast as possible (times are recorded to hundredths of a second). Contestants must pass through gates placed at fixed intervals according to the discipline.

10 Events (5 for men, 5 for women)

Downhill (men and women), Super-G (m/w), Giant slalom (m/w), Slalom (m/w), Combined (m/w)

Venues

Whistler Creekside

Competition dates

Feb. 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 26 and 27

The Disciplines

Downhill

The downhill is regarded as the most prestigious and dangerous (with speeds up to 140km/h) of the four disciplines. It is contested over one run marked out with widely spaced gates compared to the super-G where the gates are tighter. The top 30 world ranked skiers descend one by one every 2mins (every 1min 30secs after the 30th competitor). The skier who stops the clock with the fastest time wins.

Super-G

This second speed event is also contested over one run but with tighter gates than for the downhill. The top 30 world ranked skiers embark one by one at gaps of 1min 30secs with the starting intervals slashed to one minute from bib number 31. The fastest competitor down the course takes the gold.

Giant slalom

This event is more technical and raced over two heats. Gates are tightly placed for the slalom with a wider gap for the giant. The top 30 competitors after the first run dispute the second in reverse order from the 30th fastest time to the skier with the best time. Competitors start every minute from the 30th to the 16th and every 1min 30sec from 15th to 1st. The racer with the fastest combined time wins.

Slalom

The other "technical" race is also over 2 runs with the gates tightly positioned. The top 30 from the first run take part in the second and leave the gates in reverse order (30th to 1st). For the first leg, skiers take off every 1min 15secs except for the top 15 ranked competitors (1min 30secs). Same format is used for the second run with the fastest combined time taking the gold medal.

Super-combined

A downhill race followed by a slalom run staged on the same day. New ruling. The 2010 slalom will be just one run while in 2006 it was two. The winner is the skier with the best combined time over the two races.

Important Dates

  • 6000 - 12000 BC : Estimated date of a drawing with a reindeer and man on skis.
  • 1835 : Norwegian Sondre Norheim lays the foundations for the first ski competitions.
  • 1922 : Sir Arnold Lunn organizes the first Slalom Cup.
  • 1924 : International Ski Federation created.
  • 1924 : The combined event of downhill and slalom is launched at Murren and Grindelwald, in Switzerland.
  • 1931 : First world championships held at Murren, Switzerland.
  • 1936 : Alpine skiing becomes an Olympic event, although medals are awarded only in the combined discipline.
  • 1948: The downhill and slalom become official Olympic sports at St. Moritz.
  • 1952 : The giant slalom makes its Olympic debut.
  • 1988 : The super-G appears at the Olympics for the first time

Stars

Jean-Claude Killy (FRA)

The most famous name in alpine skiing. He won three gold medals at Grenoble in 1968 and four world championships during a glorious period in the 1960's. Built an impressive career in business following retirement and is currently a member of the IOC.

Annemarie Moser-Proll (AUT)

The greatest female skier in history. Won six World Cup overall titles (five in a row between 1971-1975) and picked up a record 62 World Cup wins. Four world titles and one Olympic title to her credit but slipped up at the 1972 Games, settling for silver in the downhill and giant slalom. She took a break from skiing in 1976 but came back to win the downhill gold at the 1980 Games at Lake Placid.

Ingemar Stenmark (SWE)

Mr. World Cup. Holds the record for most World Cup wins with 86 and won the overall title three times to go with his 16 other Globes in individual disciplines (8 giant slalom, 8 slalom). Had to wait until the 1980 Games at Lake Placid to win the Olympic title (both slalom and giant). This achievement erased the disappointment of Innsbruck four years earlier when he only managed bronze in the giant slalom.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.