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What is Alpine Ski Racing?


Men's Slalom

Men's Slalom

Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Question: What is Alpine Ski Racing?

Alpine ski racing consists of five men's events and five women's events. The rules and race configuration are the same for men and women, but the courses differ mostly notably in length.


Downhill races are designed to be the longest and ultimately generate the highest speed from the skiers. Each skier makes one run only. The skier with the fastest time is the winner. As in all Alpine events, skiers are timed to one hundredth of a second and any ties stand as that.

Slalom races are traditionally the shortest race. They are comprised of close together turns or gates. Each competitor makes one run, then the course is reset on the same slope, but, with position of the gates changed. The same day, those skiers qualifying for the second run make their run. The fastest combined times of the two runs is the winner.

Giant slalom (GS) races are similar to the slalom races, but, there are fewer gates and wider turns are needed to navigate through them in the GS. As in slalom, skiers make two runs down two different courses on the same slope in the same day. The times of both runs are added together, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

Super-G is short for super giant slalom. Races are run on a course shorter than the downhill, but, longer than the GS. The skier with the fastest time over one run is the winner.

Combined events include one downhill run followed by two slalom runs. All times are added together and the fastest total time determines the winner. The downhill and the slalom of the combined event are run on different, shorter courses than the regular downhill and slalom events.

Super combined (super combi) ski races includes a single slalom race and either a shorter than normal downhill run or a super G race. In the super combined, the times of each race are added together and the fastest total time determines the winner.

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