Competitive Snowsports Many consider the peak level of competition at snow sports to be the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics although there are also World Cup events and a range of other competition to compete in.
Alpine events are the original form of ski racing, with skiers skiing alone in a course against the clock. There are 4 event types in alpine racing. Each involves running gates that require the skier to make turns. The different events are characterised by the number, tightness and layout of the gates. In ascending order of speed and descending order of number of gates the events are:
Slalom has the most gates, and the tightest turns of all alpine events. The gates are a combination of wide turns, where the gates require turns to either side of the course, or flushes where the gates are directly below the gate immediately above it. Flushes require faster turns more in the fall line.
Each competitor makes two runs, and the times are aggregated.
One of the most amazing slalom runs in history was Gustavo Thoeni's second run in the '68 (or maybe '64) Olympics when he made up a deficit of about two seconds to win. As winning margins are measured to thousandths of a second, this was a truly amazing performance.
Giant Slalom, or GS, has a course that is longer, and has more open gates than slalom. There are no flushes. Turns are less obviously technical and speeds are faster.
Super G (which stands for Super Giant Slalom) longer is faster again than GS, with fewer gates.
Downhill has gates that are there only to ensure that competitors follow a vaguely similar path down the mountain. The gates do not add a particularly technical aspect to the course. Speeds can be up to 140 km/hr in parts of the course, or more. The race requires strength and technical ability, as well as the ability to ride a flat ski and glide on the flatter areas of the course. Skiers often get air, leaving the snow on bumps and rolls of the course. Many skiers appear to ski on the edge of disaster.
The Combined event is a combination of slalom and downhill.
Some events have a dual format, with two skiers racing against each other in parallel slalom courses. The loser of each race is eliminated and the winner moves on to the next round. The courses often have a couple of jumps to make things interesting.
Freestyle is a generic description for Aerials and Moguls. It used to include a weird event called Ballet, which was gymnastic "dancing" on skis. This event appears to have been laughed out of existence. The people who did it did amazing things, but the reaction of most people was "So what?" It was the Synchronised Swimming of winter sport.
Aerial skiing is a sport where the skier skis down a slope towards an extremely large jump with a shape of a quarter pipe. Once the skier is launched off the jump, they perform aerobatic stunts while keeping their skies together parallel to each other. Landing this sport is the most dangerous part of this activity and many injuries occur such as ripping many ligaments completely.
The skier with the smoothest and most turns and twists successfully completed would then be awarded an extremely high score by the panel of judges. Who ever has the highest score at the end of the competition wins the day.
Aerial skiers speak another language when describing their jumps. Here is a glossary of aerial skiing terms
Mogul skiing involves skiing down a course of bumps. There are points awarded for speed, style and the quality of air over two jumps that are incorporated into the course.
Cross country races consist of various distances, from a few kilometers to marathon length and beyond. There is an international network of ski races called Hoppets, which are 42 km long.
There are two basic techniques, and races for both. They are freestyle, which allows skating and classic in which competitors are required to used diagonal stride.
A combination of cross country skiing and target shooting. Competitors must be fast and accurate. They must be able to control their breathing after the exertion of skiing, and shoot accurately.
Ski jumpers ski down a long ramp from a specially built tower and throw themselves off the end. Points are awarded for distance, style and insanity.
Boarder Cross & Skier Cross
In these events groups of four skiers or boarders travel simultaneously down a course of bumps and berms (banked corners). To the untutored eye there are no discernible rules, although I have never seen a competitor use a weapon, so that is probably banned.
Runs are not timed, and usually the first two competitors across the line proceed to the next round.
The names of these events are usually shortened to Boarder X and Skier X