How Fast Do Downhill Skiers Go?

by Frank V. Persall

The short answer is: really, really fast. But you probably already guessed that, didn’t you?

Really, the answer depends on what type of skier you’re talking about and where they are on the slopes. Olympic-level downhill skiers tend to average around 80 miles per hour, but during the fastest sections of the course, when they don’t have to swerve to avoid any obstacles like trees, they can reach upwards of 95 miles per hour.

Olympic Skier Asking How Fast Do Downhill Skiers Go
Olympic Skier Asking How Fast Do Downhill Skiers Go

Those numbers are incredibly fast, but they aren’t even the fastest possible speeds that a person can achieve on skis. Not even close. Let me introduce you to the world of speed skiing because that’s where the numbers really get wild.

Downhill Speed Skiing

A speed skier’s goal is essentially to move as fast as possible downhill in a straight line, with no turns. They do their races on a perfectly straight course with no obstacles, and they’re timed. All of that combined means that these skiers can reach speeds that others would never dare attempt.

Currently, the world records for this category are held by two Italian speed skier racers. Believe it or not, these records were both set on the same day in 2016 at a ski resort in Vars, France.

For the men’s category, Ivan Origone set a record of a whopping 158.4 mph, while Valentina Greggio holds the women’s record of 153.4 mph.

Obviously, these kinds of speeds would not be possible (or advisable) in most settings, as even a typical Olympic skier’s average of 80 mph can lead to serious injury and crashes if they don’t have proper control. Still, it’s incredible to think that skis can achieve such mindblowing speeds.

Olympic Downhill Skiing

Your typical recreational downhill skier isn’t going to be reaching speeds anywhere near those speed skiing world records, and they’re likely not going to reach the 80 or 95 miles per hour that Olympic-level skiers can achieve. Most recreational skiers average around 20 to 40 miles per hour when racing down the slopes.

And honestly, it’s probably better that way. Trying to go dizzyingly high speeds on a crowded ski resort path is dangerous for both the person doing it and everyone around them, especially if they’re not in control.

Quick Note 

If a skier wants to be able to someday reach those speeds, they first need to learn the skills and techniques that will keep them safe when they’re travelling that fast.

If a skier wants to be able to someday reach those speeds, they first need to learn the skills and techniques that will keep them safe when they’re travelling that fast.

According to NPR and David Currier, the fastest speed a professional skier has reached during a downhill competition was 96.6 mph. This record was set by Klaus Kroell in January of 2006.

However amazing that record may be, it’s also a reminder that speed isn’t everything when it comes to downhill skiing. Despite reaching that peak speed at one point during the race, Kroell ultimately came in 19th place during the race.

So, to answer the question, “How fast do downhill skiers go?” They go unbelievably fast, but the impressive part isn’t really the speed. It’s the careful practice and training required to achieve those speeds and win the race in the end.

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About Frank V. Persall

Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.

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