The Competition Format For Alpine Ski At The Olympics
Let’s take a look at the competition format of Alpine Skiing, and why we predict it to be one of the most exciting events of the Beijing 2022 Olympics. The competition is split up into 11 separate events, with a total of 33 medals up for grabs.
The racing formats are Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, and Slalom. The main difference between the four is the course, with downhill offering a faster course, with spaced gates, and slalom offering a more technical course, with extremely tight gates.
There are also two additional events – The Alpine Combined and Mixed Team – which combine a few (or all) of the formats to test an athlete’s all-round ability.
Downhill: Downhill courses have been designed for maximum speed and knee-jarring corners. The F.I.S say that a typical downhill course is a test of “technique, courage, speed, risk and physical condition”. This statement is right on the money, as skiers are known to reach over 100mph on gradients over 85 degrees (and that’s before we even mention the heart-in-mouth jumps.
Super-G: As the name suggests, Super Giant Slalom is essentially a stretched out Giant Slalom with a vertical drop of 400-650 metres for both men and women. The gates are spaced between 6 – 8 metres apart, which gives a more technical challenge (compared to the Downhill), while still serving up some breakneck speeds.
A big part of Super-G is that athletes aren’t allowed a practice run before their timed run, meaning they only get to see the course in the morning, and do their best to run the course in their heads before the big event.
“A typical downhill course is a test of ‘technique, courage, speed, risk and physical condition’”
Giant Slalom: While Downhill and Super-G are speed events, Giant Slalom and Slalom are the technical events. Giant Slalom is made up of two different courses, usually on the same ski run, with around 56-70 gates being used in total. Although the Giant Slalom is considered a technical event, it’s still extremely fast and demanding for the athletes which results in a great spectator eye candy.
Slalom: The real technique tester. Slalom features an average of one gate per second that skiers have to hit (usually in a red/blue order) the whole way down the 180-220 metre course. This tight course means that skiers need to be precise and powerful in their turns as they carve from gate to gate.
You then have the Alpine Combined event, where skiers from all different disciplines battle it out to win a single medal. Similar to how sport climbing combined bouldering, speed climbing and sport climbing in the summer Olympics, the Alpine Combined shows who the best all-round skier is, for both males and females.
The final event is the Mixed Team event, where two males and two females from each nation compete against each other in a parallel slalom event. The first nation to win three races advances to the next heats, to compete against the winner of the other heats – the classic knockout competition, if you like.