Alpine skiing, often called downhill skiing is one of the most popular snow-based sporting events. It consists of sliding down snow-covered slopes on skis with fixed-heel bindings. Athletes are basically racing downhill through series of alternating red and blue gates. The fastest racer through the course wins. Whether for recreation or for sport, it is typically practiced at ski resorts, which provide such services as ski lifts, artificial snow making, snow grooming, restaurants, and ski patrol.
Alpine skiing has been a part of the Winter Olympic Games since 1936. At the 1st Olympics, there were only two events for this sport. They were known as men’s and women’s combined. Since then, the number of events has grown to 11. According to official numbers, there are more than 70 million people who engage in this sport. Most do it for recreation; however, there is a serious number of professional skiers as well. To learn more about this sporting event and more, check their official website.
History of Alpine Skiing
The history of alpine skiing dates back to prehistoric times in the coldest parts of this world. People in places like Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Norway used wooden planks which eventually became skis. They used the planks to cross wetlands and marshes when they froze over the winter. In the 18th century, records state that skiing was used in military training. The Norwegian army held skill competitions involving skiing down slopes, around trees and obstacles while shooting.
However, modern Alpine skiing appeared in the 1850’s. Late in the 19th century, skiing went from being a means of transport to a recreational and sporting event. Sondre Norheim was the champion of the first downhill skiing competition, reportedly held in Oslo, Norway in 1868. About 30 years later, Alpine skiing spread all over Europe and the US. The first slalom ski competition was held in Murren, Switzerland in 1922. We can consider that to be the date when this type of skiing became a part of the wintersports.
Technique and Equipment
When coming downhill in Alpine skiing, the athletes need to use several techniques. To be able to accelerate, slow down, and turn, the following four techniques must be learned by all athletes.
Stemming – The oldest and still common form of alpine ski turn is the stem, turning the front of the skis sideways from the body so they form an angle against the direction of travel. This move is what most skiers use to turn when they go racing downhill.
Carving – This is another type of turning that skiers use. The contact between the arc of the ski edges and the snow naturally causes the ski to tend to move along that arc, changing the skiers direction of motion.
Checking – This is technique which is used for speeding down. It works by increasing the pressure on one inside edge (left ski), then releasing the pressure and shifting immediately to increasing the other inside edge (right ski). You can repeat the move as long as you like and you will keep slowing down.
Snowplow turn – The snowplow turn is the simplest form of turning and is usually learned by beginners. To do it, a skier needs to be in the snowplow position. Then, they apply more pressure to the inside of the opposite foot of which the direction they would like to turn.
When it comes to equipment, there are several things in Alpine skiing that every skier needs to have. The most important are the skis which can be of different shapes and length. Then there are the boots, which require binders which bind them to the skiis. Additionally, skiers wear helmets to reduce the chances of head injury.
Elite competitions in alpine skiing are controlled by the International Ski Federation or FIS. The biggest competitions are the FIS World Cup. World Championships, and the Winter Olympics. In these tournaments, alpine skiing is pretty much divided in two disciplines.
- Racing, comprising slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom, combined, and downhill.
- Freestyle skiing, incorporating events such as moguls, aerials, half-pipe, and ski-cross.
To learn more about how these tournaments are organized and held, check the official FIS website. Additionally, head over to our Bitcoin Sportsbook to see excellent markets and odds in our Alpine Skiing offer.