Alpine skiing first became part of the Winter Olympics in 1936, at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The only alpine events at the next Games were slalom and downhill, but at 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo, medals were awarded in three alpine disciplines: Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Downhill. It was not until the Calgary Olympic Winter Games in 1988 that the Super-G was added to the program.
Alpine Skiing in Russia
In the early 1900s, so called “hillmen”—who preferred racing downhill—began to stand out among Russian skiers. Although they soon got carried away by downhill skiing involving turns (which would later be known as Slalom). Alpine skiing’s popularity grew rapidly in the ensuing years. By the 1970s, about 28,000 athletes were being trained in sports centers for adults and children.
Alpine Skiing as it is
The Olympic Alpine competition consists of five events each for women and men. These include Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super Giant, and Super Combined. The rules are the same for men and women, but the courses differ. Ten sets of medals altogether are awarded.
The downhill (DH) features the longest course and the highest speeds in Alpine skiing (120 km/h). Each skier makes a single run down a course one after another and the fastest time determines the winner.
The slalom (SL) is an alpine skiing discipline that involves skiing between poles (or “gates”) spaced much closer together than in Giant Slalom, Super-G or Downhill, resulting in quicker and shorter turns. Slalom is a two-run event; the skier with the fastest combined adjusted time for the two runs wins.
Giant slalom (GS) involves skiing between sets of gates spaced at a greater distance from each other than in slalom but not as great as in Super-G. The number of gates in this event ranges from 56 to 70 for men and 46 to 58 for women. The final result is based on the total time taken over the two different runs.
The Super giant 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 Super Combined event includes one Downhill or Super-G run and one Slalom run on a single day.
- Reinforced plastic boots are specific to the competition discipline. Bindings are the link between the boots and the skis. Gloves are made of leather or synthetic material
- Ski goggles protect the eyes against weather, glare and the effects of speed on the eyes.
- A tight-fitting helmet is designed to protect a skier’s head from injuries.
- In the downhill and Super-G, poles are curved to fit around the body to reduce air resistance.
- Skis are made of various materials (wood, composite fibers) specially adapted to the wear and tear they undergo during a race. Skis in downhill are 30% longer than those used in slalom in order to provide added stability at high speeds.
- Skin-tight racing suits are made of materials that minimize air resistance.
Alpine Skiing in Sochi
During the Olympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi, Alpine skiing events will be held at the «Rosa Khutor» Alpine Center on the Aibga Ridge. The Olympic alpine skiing courses will total 20 km in length. The resort is designed to accommodate 10,000 spectators.
The first phase of the facility will open in November 2010 for test competitions.