Fragments preserved in peat bogs in Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway have documented that skiing was an integral part of daily life in colder countries as early as 9,000 years BC.
Skiing changed from a method of transportation into a sporting activity during the late 19th century. The first non-military skiing competitions are reported to have been held in the 1840s in northern and central Norway. The first national skiing competition in Norway, held in the capital Christiania (now Oslo) and won by Sondre Norheim in 1868, is regarded as the beginning of a new era of skiing enthusiasm. A few decades later, the sport spread to the remainder of Europe and to the US, where miners held skiing competitions to entertain themselves during the winter. Sir Arnold Lunn organised the first slalom competition in 1922 in Mürren, Switzerland.
SKIING AS AN OLYMPIC SPORT
Men’s and women’s alpine skiing both debuted on the Olympic Games programme in 1936 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The only event that year was a combined competition of both downhill and slalom. In 1948, this was held along with separate downhill and slalom races. Four years later, the giant slalom was added, and in 1988, the super giant slalom became a fourth separate event.
THE DIFFERENT ALPINE SKI RACES
Alpine skiing consists of eleven competitions: Five each for women and men, plus the mixed parallel slalom, which combines women and men into one team.
Downhill is characterized by the longest course and the highest speeds in alpine skiing. The super-G, or super giant slalom, is a competition that combines the speed of the downhill with the more precise and technical turns of the giant slalom. In these competitions, each skier competes on a single course and the fastest time determines the winner.
Slalom is an alpine ski race with the shortest course and the most turns. Giant slalom has fewer turns and wider, smoother turns. In both races, each skier makes two runs down two different tracks drawn on the same slope. The times are combined, and the lowest total time determines the winner. In the alpine combined, a shortened downhill is followed by a one-run slalom. The times are added up, and the lowest total time determines the winner.
The mixed team parallel slalom made its Olympic debut in 2018. The race consists of a mixed competition between men and women, each competing in pairs in a parallel giant slalom. Those who achieve three out of four wins, regardless of distances, advance to the next round.