In competitive ski racing, alpine ski racing usually consists of four key disciplines. All these four disciplines might be a little baffling and difficult to comprehend unless you are an avid follower of alpine ski racing. In this article, we are going to discuss all these four disciplines in detail so that you don’t lose track the next time you follow this competition on screen, in person or whatever.
What are these four disciplines?
- Giant Slalom (GS)
- Super Giant Slalom (super-G)
Slalom and Giant Slalom are categorized as technical events. On the other hand, super-G and Downhill are considered as speed events.
All these 4 events are based on time. The technical events have a few additional requirements where the focus is given on short and quick turns and other technicalities. The speed events are mostly focused on gaining momentum to achieve high speeds.
This is the most technical event of the lot and has very little room for error. Although it doesn’t ask for much speed (like the other three do), but one small error can actually result in a straddle; thereby ending your race at that specific moment. (Straddling basically occurs when one ski goes to the wrong end of the gate.)
Slalom events have an average total of 65 turning gates for men and 55 for women. These gates are usually placed roughly 6m and 13m apart.
The slalom race course might look like a cluster of poles to the amateur eyes. But this appears noticeably different to a professional ski racer who has to embed the idea of the race track in his/her mind at the time of inspection.
The slalom event is made of corridors of gates, ‘verticales’, hairpins, ‘undergates’ which can often be the case where a race is won or lost. So you see that it’s all or nothing.
Giant Slalom (GS)
The GS is considered to be one of the most difficult disciplines to succeed in. It is also pretty beautiful to watch and ski at the same time. The players will have to get their timings and movements perfect when they go through the double gates.
The vertical drop in case of GS is almost double than that of the Slalom. The number of gates in GS is also quite less than that of slalom. Therefore, gates are set about 24-28, apart. The gate-setter might use the terrain according to their wish. Therefore, the race might get quite tricky whether you like it or not.
Super Giant Slalom (Super G)
The Super Giant slalom closely resembles the GS with a little difference. It’s much faster.
The most difficult part of super giant slalom is that the ski racer can have only forty-five minutes for inspecting the entire course. They often have to travel at a speed of around 80mph and have to attempt difficult turns as well when the situation calls for.
Racers have roughly an hour to ski on the specific race hill prior to the day of competition. But there aren’t any training run through the course just before the race. So you see that this one’s incredibly difficult. You’ll need serious skills and memory to remember the race course and navigate your path to your destination. Oh! Did we forget to add that you’ll have to do all those things with a huge speed at the same time?
This event is the king of all four, to be honest. The racers will have to reach a speed of around 90mph! Now that’s fast; isn’t it? Some racers might even reach a speed of around 100mph.
The downhill training is provided for a period of 3 days as per schedule. Racers have to complete one among those three at the very least to participate in the actual competition.
The judges usually use a yellow flag in the downhill event to signal a crash on course. When a racer is flagged “yellow,” he has to stop instantly and go back straight to the top of the course for a re-run.
Downhill challenges are usually inclusive of turns, flats, small jumps and shallow dips. So you see that the title of “king” is completely justified.
We hope that this article has been enlightening enough for your purposes. So the next time you get the chance to watch these four events in alpine ski racing, try to detect the differences on your own. Adios!
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