If you take nothing else away from this post explaining the differences between the alpine skiing disciplines at Beijing 2022, understand this: there are two types of events – technical and speed.
Most skiers focus on one or the other but there are also all-rounders who participate in multiple disciplines of the six events. They are the tired-looking ones come the end of the Games on 20 February.
What are the Differences Between the Alpine Skiing Disciplines?
The super-G stands for super giant slalom, an event that combines the speed of downhill with the more precise turns of giant slalom.
There’s less of a vertical drop than the downhill and gates are placed closer together. Each skier makes one run down a single course and the fastest time wins.
The doozy here? Skiers are not allowed a trial run. Instead, they have 90 minutes to inspect the course on the race morning, discussing each nuance of the slope at length with their coaches, but then, get this, they must remember the course!
What this leads to is the unusual sight of skiers at the top of the track, waiting for their turn, eyes closed, visualising the run, swerving backwards and forwards as they mimic the course in their minds.
The fastest technical event, the giant slalom is contested over two heats on the same day, with the times added together to give the winner.
The courses are different and skiers reach speeds of around 80 kph. The start of the second run is in reverse order from the top 30 rankings of the first run
The slalom is the most technical event in alpine skiing with gates set very close together. Skiers need to perform fast turns and rapid changes of direction. The trick is almost not to think about it too much but to get into a rhythm and let the skis do the talking.
The slalom is the alpine event with the shortest course and the quickest turns but skiers still reach around 60-70 kph.
The event is again contested in two rounds on the same day and on two different courses. The first 30 skiers from the first run start in the reverse order of the ranking to compete in the second run. The times of the two runs are added together to determine the final ranking.
The combined event – which only takes place at the Olympics currently, as for the second successive season it has been removed from the World Cup calendar – finds the best alpine skiing all-rounder. In Beijing, this will take the form of a high-speed downhill run (it can also be super-G) followed by the slalom, with both competitions on the same day.
The times of the two runs are added together to determine the final ranking, with the skier’s speed and technical abilities, as well as their stamina, tested to the max.
Mixed Team Parallel Slalom
The mixed team parallel slalom debuted at PyeongChang 2018. The event was hugely popular due to the fact the skiers face off against each other in a duel held on two identical courses, which sit side by side on the slope.
Spectators and viewers could therefore immediately see the winner and loser, and their very different reactions, especially in the latter stages of the knockout competition.
The event starts with a round of 16 before the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.