2018 Winter Olympics: Understanding alpine skiing

This fast paced winter sport has been an Olympic staple for close to 100 years

By Dane Sager Kelly - Web Producer

Alpine skiing applies to a number of different forms of sliding down snow-covered hills on skis. It is frequently practiced at ski resorts that provide ski lifts, as well as snow creating and grooming machines.

With the exception of the 1940 games, alpine skiing has been an event at every Winter Olympic Games since 1936.

Alpine skiing returns to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, with events taking place at Yongpyong Resort and Jeongseon Alpine Centre. There are 11 alpine skiing events at this year's games: five events each for men and women, and one parallel mixed team event on Feb. 24 at 11 a.m.

Downhill

Men's date: Feb. 11, 11 a.m.
Women's date: Feb. 21, 11 a.m.

Here's how it works:

Downhill is a single race with racers given extensive preparation to practice on the course. Racers use this time to find the most efficient route possible, with as few turns as possible to maintain speed while negotiating turns and jumps. Race times are measured to hundredths of a second, with some racers winning by as little as two hundredths of a second. Some racers have been known to get their speed up to 100 miles an hour.

Slalom

Men's date: Feb. 22, 10:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m.
Women's date: Feb. 14,  10:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m.

Here's how it works:

While the downhill requires speed, slalom focuses on maneuverability. Skiers pass around a number of red and blue poles, making sharp turns to clear the gates. This event will have two runs, with only a select number of competitors get to advance to the second course. 

Giant Slalom

Men's date: Feb. 18, 10:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m.
Women's date: Feb. 12, 10:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m.

Here's how it works:

Giant slalom requires racers to go through more gates that are closer together, causing slower speeds, but more deliberate skiing. This event will have two runs, with only a select number of competitors get to advance to the second course. 

Alpine Combined

Men's date: Feb. 13, 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
Women's date: Feb. 23, 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m.

Here's how it works:

Traditionally, combined consisted of one run of downhill and two runs of slalom, the winner being decided with the fastest combined time. Super combined is a modified version with one run of downhill and one run of slalom. 

Super-G

Men's date: Feb. 15, 11 a.m.
Women's date: Feb. 17, 11 a.m.

Here's how it works:

Super-G is similar to both downhill and slalom. Traditionally run on the same course as the downhill, super-G has wider set gates than slalom, allowing higher speeds, but still requiring turns and maneuverability that make it slower than downhill.

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