In the early days of alpine ski racing, athletes competed in only two events: Downhill and Slalom. Giant Slalom was added to the lineup in 1950 and super G in 1983. All courses must meet strict standards established and monitored by officials of the FIS and USSA.
Athletes start out competing in the technical events of Slalom and Giant Slalom before moving on to include the speed events of Super G and Downhill.
Slalom has the greatest number of gates over the shortest course of all the events. Racers are required to execute many short, quick turns through two different courses, and the combined time determines the winner. The top 30 finishers from the first run start the second run in reverse order, with the 30th finisher starting first.
Giant Slalom is characterized as the event that requires the most technical skill where the skiers race a faster and longer course with fewer gates than in SL. As in SL, the racers ski two different courses with the combined time determining the winner. The top 30 finishers from the first run start the second run in reverse order, with the 30th finisher starting first.
Super G is faster than GS, with fewer gates. This event integrates the speed element of DH with high-speed technical turns like in GS. Racers ski one run to determine the winner. Athletes do not typically start competing SG until they are about 14 years of age.
The fastest of all events, the Downhill is a one run race held on a course with a minimum number of control gates. Prior to the race, competitors must complete at least one training run on the course. Athletes do not typically start competing DH until they are 16 years of age.
The Combined event involves the addition of times from designated SL and DH or SG races.
In Parallel Slalom, two racers compete head to head in identical SL courses set side by side. They race each course and the fastest combined time determines which competitor advances to the next round. The finals of the competition include not more than 32 competitors who are paired in a predetermined race order. The winner is determined after six more elimination rounds.
The Kombi event is contested by pre-FIS age athletes. It is a combination of a SL and a GS race, in which racers must be prepared for rhythm changes throughout the course.
Scored/Non Scored Races
All FIS, and some USSA races, are scored. This means that athletes may earn race points depending on where they finish in the race. Scored racing can begin at the U14 level.
Non-scored USSA races sometimes have modified race rules, whereby it may be a one-run race. The “flipping” of the top 15 or 30 finishers for the second run is not always applied in non-scored races.
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