Alpine Skiing

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Alpine Skiing


a sport in which one descends a mountain on skis along special routes, with the time of descent being recorded precisely.

Alpine skiing competitions include the slalom, the giant slalom, the downhill, and the multievent (two and three events). The slalom (literally, “sloping track” in Norwegian) is a descent down a mountain on skis along a course 450–500 m long with marked turns (width of the turns 3.5–4 m, and distance between them 0.7–15 m). The drop in elevation between the start’and the finish is 60–150 m. En route, skiers develop speeds up to 40 km per hour. They are required to pass through all turns and are removed from the competition for missing turns or cutting them with one ski. The result of the competition is determined on the basis of the total time taken for two descents on two different courses. The giant slalom entails a greater drop in elevation (200–500 m) and a greater course length (800–2,000 m); the turns range as wide as eight m and the distance between them is 15–20 m. On such courses the skier reaches a speed of 65 km per hour. Men make two descents and women one; for men the results are determined by the total time of the two descents. The downhill is a descent along a marked course 2,000–4,000 m long with a drop in elevation between the start and the finish of 500–1,000 m; the speed reaches 90–100 km per hour and in certain sectors of the route more. The skier’s path is determined by a terrain with variable relief and the turns set out on it. The athlete who records the best time in covering the course wins. In slalom and giant slalom competitions, a new course is marked out each time and competitors are not permitted to practice on it. For the downhill, courses are constant and practice on them is permitted before competition. The two-event competition consists of the slalom and the downhill, and the three-event competition includes all three types of alpine skiing.

The first rules for alpine skiing competitions were suggested in the 1920’s by the Englishman A. Lunn. The first downhill competitions were held in Switzerland in 1923. Since 1930 the world championship of alpine skiing has been held regularly. In 1936 alpine skiing was included in the program of the Winter Olympic Games. Alpine skiing has become most widespread in Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, and the American continent.

Among non-Soviet alpine skiers, the most outstanding performances have been achieved by T. Sailer of Austria, who won three gold medals in alpine skiing at the VII Olympic Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956, and J. C. Killy of France, who also won three gold medals in alpine skiing at the X Olympic Games in Grenoble in 1968.

In the USSR the first alpine skiing championship was held in 1934 in Sverdlovsk.

Soviet skiers belong to the Alpine Skiing Federation of the USSR. In 1948 the federation became a member of the International Skiing Federation (FIS), which has a special committee on alpine skiing. The best-known Soviet alpine skiers are the Honored Masters of Sport A. A. Filatov and E. N. Sidorova, who have won USSR championships many times. At the VII Olympic Games, Sidorova won a bronze medal in the slalom competition.


Rostovtsev, D. E. Gornolyzhnyi sport. Moscow, 1959.
Gornolyzhnyi sport, Moscow, 1963.
Zyrianov, V., and L. Remizov. Tekhnika gornolyzhnogo sporta. Moscow. 1968.
Bonnet, H., and G. Maurois. Lyzhi po-frantsuzski. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from French.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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