What Is Alpine Skiing?

by Frank V. Persall

Skiing – it can be as smooth sailing or as daredevil as you want to make it. The challenge depends on your choice of the slope, the mountain itself and the weather. While it may have started off in colder places, it is now possible anywhere that you have snow – natural or fake, it doesn’t matter!  

Do you have a sense of curiosity about Alpine skiing but don’t know where to start? This article will cover the basics and define Alpine skiing to hopefully whet your appetite enough to look into it further. One more budding skier on the slopes is always a bonus! 

What Is Alpine Skiing
What Is Alpine Skiing

What Is Alpine Skiing About?

Alpine skiing is a specific type of downhill skiing. The heel bindings of the ski are fixed rather than being mobile as in other types of skiing. The fixed heel of the skis mean that in ski resorts and competitively, the skiers are assisted to the top of the slope by ski lifts. For more experienced skiers setting off out into the wilds, snowmobiles and helicopters can be employed to start them off at the top for that extra buzz of adrenaline before zooming down the slopes.

Alpine Skiing History

To look into the history of Alpine skiing, it is helpful to go back even further to the origin of skiing itself. Evidence of skiing has been found as far back as prehistory. The oldest skis ever found date all the way back to 6,300 BC and they were found in Russia. Skiing is credited to the Sami, spreading out from there into other cold regions.Before skiing was used for fun or became a sport as it is today, skiing made travelling across the snow more efficient. This worked wonders for the people settled in the higher altitude remote areas of the world who had to get around.

Alpine skiing, as we know it now, came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Alps – hence the name! While it was first popular in countries that had natural snowy slopes, it later spread around the world once the ability to make snow became possible. 

What are the alpine skiing olympics?

Woman's Alpine Skiing Competition At The Winter Olympics
Woman's Alpine Skiing Competition At The Winter Olympics

Since 1936, Alpine skiing has had a place in the Winter Olympics. The Alpine competition at the Olympics is divided into 5 different times of race that is based on speed, skiing technique or a combination of both. 

  • Slalom – Downhill skiing between two poles forming a gate.
  • Special or Giant Slalom – Downhill skiing between gates with more of a distance between the gates than the Slalom but less of a        distance than the Super-G.  
  • Combined – Part speed-based, part technique-based. Part of the course is downhill only and part involves skiing between gates. 
  • Super-G – Speed-based downhill skiing through widely-spaced gates.
  • Downhill – Speed-based downhill skiing with no gates.

Each type of race comes with its own benefits and risks, as with all sports. If you want to go competitive, decide which you prefer and go from there! 

The next planned Alpine skiing event is at the Olympics in 2022 in Beijing, China. 

Women's Alpine Skiing Olympics

The first time that a women appeared in the Alpine Skiing Olympics was at the combined event in 1936. 

Prominent women in the Olympics: 

  • Lindsey Vonn – USA. 4 Olympic games. 82 World Cup victories. 
  • Tina Maze – Slovenia. 4 Olympic games. Won Slovenia’s first world title.
  • Anja Paerson – Sweden. 3 Olympic games. Won all 5 World Cup events.
  • Janica Kostelic – Croatia. 3 Olympic games. Set the record for the number of medals won by a woman. 

As much as these women and others are trailblazers in the world of skiing, skiing itself as a whole needs more women! The Winter Sports Company reported that 70% of its courses were made up of men and only 30% of women. This has also been independently reported by women skiers themselves. More community is wanted. 

Conclusion

Alpine skiing is a particular form of downhill skiing that has gained popularity relatively recently. With participants ranging from hobbyists to Olympic-level competitors, there is something for everyone. 

Why not give Alpine skiing a try? Whether you can access a local artificial ski slope or head to your local ski resort, the sport is accessible. Alpine skiing also features in the Paralympics.  Regardless of age or gender, there is bound to be something about skiing that appeals to you. The sky is the limit – someone has even skied down from the summit of Mount Everest!

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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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