Alpine skiing is the sport of sliding down snow-covered hills on skis with fixed-heel bindings. It is also commonly known as downhill skiing, although that also incorporates different styles. Alpine skiing can be contrasted with skiing using free-heel bindings; ski mountaineering and nordic skiing – such as cross-country; ski jumping; and telemark. Alpine skiing is popular wherever the combination of snow, mountain slopes, and a sufficient tourist infrastructure can be built up, including parts of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, the South American Andes, and East Asia.
Alpine skiing began as a club sport in 1861 at Kiandra in Australia and a number of similar clubs in North America and the Swiss Alps. Today, most alpine skiing occurs at a ski resort with ski lifts that transport skiers up the mountain. The snow is groomed, avalanches are controlled and trees are cut to create trails. Many resorts also include snow making equipment to provide skiing when the weather would otherwise not allow it. Alternatively, alpine skiers may pursue the sport in less controlled environments; this practice is variously referred to as ski touring, backcountry skiing, or extreme skiing.
In competitive alpine skiing races four disciplines exist: slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom, and downhill. Slalom ski races have courses that require short tight turns, whereas giant-slalom races have courses which are set with more widely spaced turns. Super-giant slalom and downhill have few turns, the courses have gates spaced widely apart and skiers often reach 100 km/h.
Sep 4, 2013