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Alpine skiing

Super G skier

Winter Olympics guide - Super G

Skiing has been helping humans conquer the white stuff ever since Norwegian hunters started using bits of wood strapped to their feet to chase their prey.

Five thousand years on, it is one of the most popular pastimes in the world.

Alpine skiing has four different disciplines - downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom.

The downhill is for speed freaks, and the slalom for master turners.

The Super-G and giant slalom are somewhere in between, and a fifth event - the combined - provides an all-round test by putting downhill and slalom together.


Super-G, or super giant slalom, combines the speed of downhill with the more frequent turns seen in giant slalom.

The course is shorter than downhill, but longer than giant slalom.

Unlike in downhill, there are no training runs for super-G - and skiers have just one run to impress.

Super-G gates are 6-8m wide
They are at least 25m apart for 'open' gates and 15m apart for 'closed' gates

The winner is the racer who passes through all course gates and crosses the finish line in the quickest time.

The absence of practice sessions makes the hour-and-a-half race-morning course inspection all the more crucial.

The competitors assess how the course is set and memorise every ripple, roll, and turn.

More super-G racers are disqualified for missing a gate than in downhill because of the speed and frequency of turns.

As in the downhill, the skiers decide their own starting position with a complex formula using the skiers' world ranking points determining the order they choose in.

The top-ranked skier gets to decide first, with their choices being based on weather and course conditions.

Length, width and shape all affect a ski's performance, and they vary depending on the discipline.

For the Super-G, men's skis must be at least 205cm long, and women's skis at least 200cm long.

Super-G skiers have poles that are curved to fit around the body to reduce air resistance.

Other equipment includes gloves and goggles.


If you want to become a Super-G specialist, you'll have to become an accomplished skier.

But if you think you are ready for the challenge, Snowsport GB has details of how to get involved.

And for more information on the ski world, visit the International Ski Federation's website.


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