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MAIN Arrow to Sports Sports Arrow to Olympics Olympic Games Arrow to Olympics Alpine Skiing Alpine Skiing

Olympic Alpine Skiing
© LaPresse

Along with popularity of Olympic figure skating, the Alpine downhill is one of the most anticipated spectacles of the Winter Games.

It all begins as racers curl up in a "tuck" position. This is to gain aerodynamic speed as they hurtle down the mountain at times in excess of 120 km/h (75 miles per hour).

Exciting and action-packed, it's a race against the clock as top skiing teams from around the world compete in such events as the Slalom, Super-G and the Nordic combined.

Each event has its own rules and discipline, but all of them maintain the same level of excitement — and danger! — as competitors try to outdo one another (sometimes by hundredths of seconds) down the steep and hard-packed slopes.


Canada - CBC Olympics CBC

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Speed and agility are the two mainstains of competition in the Super-G, which features the blue and red alternating gates that number at least 35 for the men and 30 for the women.

This is followed by the Giant Slalom, where the gates become closer, and the demand for maneuverability is at its utmost. The Nordic Combined includes both a downhill and a slalom descent, which totals the times acheived over the two events to determine the winner.


DID YOU KNOW? Olympic alpine skiing fun facts

Hermann Maier 2
Herman Maier, daredevil on the downhill.

• Daredevil Austrian skier Hermann Maier threw caution to the wind and took a dangerous curve at the Nagano Games in 1998 without slowing down. Flying more than 100 feet off the course at 70 miles per hour, Maier walked away with nothing but a bruised shoulder. A day later, he went on to take gold at the Super-G. Three days later he came in first on the Giant Slalom.

• In trouble with the law at age 17, US skier Bill Johnson was sentenced to spend time at a ski academy due to his reputation in the sport. Johnson went on to win the men's downhill at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games, becoming the first American male to take gold in the event.

• At age 20, Austrian skiier Toni Sailer won the slalom, giant slalom, and downhill at the 1956 Winter Games to become the youngest male ever to win gold in Olympic alpine skiing. His record still stands.

• American skier, Picabo Street, suffered a concussion when she crashed going 75mph downhill at the Winter Games in 1998. But in an epic comeback a week later, she won gold in the Super-G in 1:18.02, one-hundredth of a second faster than Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister.


More about Olympic alpine skiing around the Web:



FIS Ski - Alpine Skiing
- Check out the complete Olympic schedule at a glance, from the International Ski Federation.

U.S. Ski Team - Here's their official home online, with a team overivew, athlete bios and stats, with updates and video reports,

Alpine Canada - Get event schedules and headline news, in English and French.


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