Alpine skiing

Here's What to Know About Alpine Skiing at the Winter Olympics

Athletes will compete on the slopes in Beijing with 11 gold medals up for grabs

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

If you’re looking for exciting, high-speed action at the Winter Olympics, look no further than alpine skiing.

Athletes from across the globe hit the slopes for a series of intense events. Thirty-three medals will be awarded across 11 separate events, with 11 coveted gold medals on the line.

After earning three medals for skiing at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics (one gold, one silver and one bronze), the United States is set to remain among the top countries in the world.

Here’s a look at the athletes who will compete in Beijing, the different skiing events, Team USA and more.

What are the different competitions for alpine skiing?

There are 11 different events that comprise alpine skiing – five men’s, five women’s and one mixed team. Men and women will compete in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and combined. The 11th and final competition is the team event.

How does Olympic skiing work?

Downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, combined and the team event are the six competitions. Here’s how they all work:

Downhill: This is where the fastest speeds are. Each athlete gets one run through the course, and the athlete with the quickest time is awarded the gold. The course features the fewest turns and is the longest of any event.

Super-G: Super giant slalom is the second “speed event” in alpine skiing, but it doesn’t quite reach the speeds of downhill. Skiers are forced to navigate widely set gates, which requires more turning. Athletes are given one run before medals are awarded to the fastest times.

Giant Slalom: GS is a slightly slower version of super-G, though it follows a similar format. Gates are set up even wider, so there are fewer turns that require more side to side skiing. Athletes get two runs, with their times combined and the medals awarded to the quickest combined times.

Slalom: Another technical event, slalom places the gates or poles closer together. This requires very quick turns, but the course is the shortest of all events. Skiers take two runs and medals are awarded for the three fastest combined times.

Combined: This is, as you might’ve expected, a combination of two other events: downhill and slalom. Athletes make a downhill run, followed by a slalom run. The times are added together and the quickest earns gold.

Team event: Sixteen countries enter four athletes each into the team event, which is a single-elimination bracket of head-to-head slalom races. Athletes face off in a race through the slalom course, and whichever country wins the majority of the four races advances. If there is a 2-2 tie, the team with the best combined time moves on.

Where will the Olympic skiing take place?

All skiing events will be held at the Xiaohaituo Alpine Skiing Field, also known as the Chinese National Alpine Skiing Centre, located in the Yanqing District of northwest Beijing. The resort opened in 2019 in anticipation of the upcoming Olympics.

When will alpine skiing take place at the Winter Olympics?

Medal events in alpine skiing begin Sunday, Feb. 6, with competition going for six consecutive days in Beijing. 

Additional medal events will be held throughout the final week of the Winter Olympics – Sunday, Feb. 13, through Saturday, Feb. 19.

Which countries are the best in alpine skiing?

Austria has 121 alpine skiing medals, including a record 37 gold medals. 

Austria has stood above the rest of the world in alpine skiing ever since introduction at the Winter Olympics in 1936, nearly doubling second-place Switzerland in total medals. The Swiss have brought home 66 total medals, including 22 golds.

In total, 25 nations have earned medals in alpine skiing. The United States is fourth in total medals (47) and third in gold medals (17) entering Beijing. European countries are scattered across the leaderboard, holding eight of the top nine spots among the total medal leaders.

Who is competing for Team USA skiing?

Forty-four athletes were nominated for the United States’ alpine ski team this winter. Mikaela Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion, will headline the roster in Beijing.

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