Olympic Downhill and Slalom Skiing Events

A private ski instructor and competitive amateur skier, Jim Decker of Vancouver, BC, has competed in races across Canada, the United States, and Switzerland. James Decker also stands out as an accomplished freelance photographer, who has photographed a number of Olympic skiing events for publication.

At the Olympic Games, downhill skiers compete in five different events. The basic downhill skiing event tests a competitor’s speed. It features the longest downhill course in the Olympic games and sends skiers down steep straightaways at speeds of up to 90 mph.

By contrast, the slalom and giant slalom events emphasize agility rather than velocity. The basic slalom event is shorter but requires the competitor to change direction quickly and navigate extremely tight turns. The giant slalom, although similar, has fewer and wider turns with a longer total distance.

Another type of turn-focused event, the super giant slalom, or “Super G,” further reduces the tightness of turns to allow higher speeds. Often considered a combination of downhill and slalom racing, the Super G requires athletes to turn skillfully at speeds of more than 50 mph. Competitors may also demonstrate both skills in the alpine super combined event, in which the skier completes a single downhill run as well as a single slalom run and receives a combined finish time as the final score.

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