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Skiing Disciplines


Giant Slalom

GS is an Alpine Skiing discipline. It involves skiing between poles ("gates") spaced at a greater distance to each other than in Slalom but not as great as Super-G or Downhill. The number of gates in this event ranges from 56 to 70 for men and from 46 to 58 for women.

Giant Slalom and Slalom make up the "technical events" in alpine ski racing. This category separates them from the "speed events" like Super-G and Downhill.

Differences between Giant Slalom and Slalom

Giant Slalom (GS) racers ski faster than Slalom racers because a GS course contains fewer gates separated by greater distances requiring significantly fewer turns, thus allowing racers to pick up much more momentum. GS gates themselves also differ from Slalom the gates. As a result, a Slalom racer is likely to use a cross-blocking method to push gates out of the way in order to keep his center of gravity closer to the fall line during his run. In contrast, the fall line of a Giant Slalom run has much wider turns and thus is always less encumbered by gates. As a result, a GS racer will make much less do so using his inner shoulder rather than his outer pole.

Giant Slalom Skis

Giant Slalom skis are longer and stiffer than Slalom skis, but not as long as Super-G and Downhill skis.

In an attempt to increase safety, the 2003-2004 season saw the FIS increase the minimum turning radius for Giant Slalom skis to 21m, and impose minimum ski lengths for the first time; 185cm for men, 180cm for women. Alpine skiing (or downhill skiing) is a recreational activity and sport involving sliding down snow covered hills with long, thin skis attached to each foot.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skiing evolved from cross-country skiing when ski lift infrastructure was developed at mountain resorts to tow skiers back to the top of slopes, thus making it possible to repeatedly enjoy skiing down steep, long slopes that would be otherwise too tiring to climb up. Thus, the sport is popular wherever the combination of snow, mountain slopes, and a sufficient tourist infrastructure can be built up, including much of Europe, North America, and Japan.

The main technical challenges faced by skiers are simply how to control the direction and speed of their descent. Typically, novice skiers use a technique called the "snowplough" to turn and stop by pointing one or both skis inward, but more advanced skiers use more difficult but more elegant and speedier methods. These more advanced methods are known as carving. To carve, a skier rolls their knees but keeps the upper body and hips faced down the hill, so that only the knees and feet are turned. This method is far faster and is used by downhill racers.

As skiers gain confidence, they tackle steeper, longer and more uneven slopes at higher speeds. In North America the easiest slopes are marked by green circles, and are typically fairly flat and known as bunny hills. The mid-level difficulty is that of a blue square, and are more challenging but not as much as a black diamond. A black diamond is steeper than a blue square and usually involves challenging terrain. A double black diamond is for experts only, and is very difficult to ski. However, there is no standard for these designations, and each ski resort determines them relative to their own terrain difficulty. So, for instance, a blue-square (midlevel) trail at one ski mountain may be markedly more difficult than a black-diamond (expert) trail at another mountain. In Europe the system is based on colour alone, with the level of difficulty increasing from blue to red to black.

Slalom Skiing

Slalom (from Norwegian slalåm: "sla," meaning steep hillside, and "låm," meaning track after skis.) is an Alpine Skiing discipline. It involves skiing between poles (gates) spaced much closer together than in Giant Slalom, Super-G or Downhill, thereby causing quicker and shorter turns. It is regarded as the most technically challenging of the Alpine Ski disciplines.

Super Giant Slalom (Super G)

The Super Giant Slalom is an Alpine Skiing discipline. It is usually referred to as Super G and is considered a "speed" discipline along with Downhill (the "technical" disciplines are Giant Slalom and Slalom).

Super G incorporates aspects of both Downhill and Giant Slalom racing. It involves skiing between widely spaced gates as in Giant Slalom, but with fewer turns over a longer course and with higher speeds approaching those achieved in Downhill. The minimum number of gates is 35 for men and 30 for women. Super G skiers will often assume the "tuck" position as in Downhill, but will continue turning constantly as in Giant Slalom, rarely encountering the periodic straight "gliding" sections of a Downhill course. Super G courses in international competition must be at least one minute in length and can be as long as one minute and 45 seconds. Speeds at the Alpine Skiing World Cup level generally average from 88-96 km (55-60 miles) per hour.

Super G is unique in that it is conducted over one run, like Downhill, but racers are not permitted to train the course at full speed before the race. As in Giant Slalom and Slalom, they are allowed only a one hour visual inspection of the course on the morning of the race. This distinction adds to the unpredictable nature of the event and requires ski racing abilities that are different from the other three disciplines.

Downhill Skiing

The downhill is an Alpine Skiing discipline. The rules for the downhill were originally developed by Sir Arnold Lunn for the 1921 British National Ski Championships.

"Downhill skiing" is also commonly a term synonymous with "Alpine Skiing" to denote the sport and recreational activity of Alpine Skiing in general.

More generally, the term may be used in any sport involving the speedy descent of a hillside. Examples include snowboarding, mountain biking, different skateboarding variants, such as and longboarding, freebording and mountain boarding and even municycling.

The "downhill" discipline involves the highest speeds and therefore the greatest risks of all the alpine events. Racers on a typical international-level course will exceed speeds of 130 kilometers per hour (80 mph) and some courses, such as the famous Hahnenkamm course in Kitzbühel, Austria, speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour (93 mph) in certain sections are expected. Racers must have great strength, stamina, technical expertise and courage if they wish to compete in the downhill.


A Slalom racer's method of diverting gates with his outer hand or arm (normally protected from the impact by a pole guard) in order to draw his body's center of gravity closer to the fall line and increase his speed.

In cross-blocking, the racer's feet get sufficiently close to the pole that, due to inward lean, the racer's entire upper body would actually pass through the pole if it were not moved out of the way. Thus they hit the pole with their outside hand to move it out of the way --- modern poles are designed to easily bend.


The International Ski Federation/Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) is the main international organisation of ski sports. Founded by 14 member nations in 1924 in Chamonix, France, today it has a membership of 101 national ski associations and is based in Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland.

The federation organises the following ski sport disciplines, for which it oversees World Cup competitions and World Championships:

Alpine Skiing (incl Alpine combined)

    Super-G (Super Giant Slalom)
    Giant Slalom (GS)

Nordic skiing

    Cross-country skiing (aka XC skiing)
    Ski jumping
    Nordic combined
    Telemark skiing


    Freestyle skiing
    Speed skiing
    Roller skiing

An exception from the ski sports organised by FIS is the rising-popularity discipline of Biathlon (XC skiing + rifle shooting), which has its own organisation, the International Biathlon Union (IBU).





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