Skiing is a sport based on movement over snow using a pair of long, flat runners called skis. The skis, which come in different lengths and widths based on the type of terrain or competition, are attached to specialty ski boots.
Skiing is one of the oldest forms of transportation in the world, dating back millennia. Readings from ancient paintings suggest that skis were used in arctic regions throughout history for travel and hunting. Skis were in regular use by farmers in Scandinavia through the Middle Ages, though they didn’t really evolve into the modern-day version of skiing until the 1800s when carpenters in Norway and Switzerland began honing their shape and laminating the wood.
The birth of downhill ski racing first appeared in the mid-1800s in Norway. Through the late 19th century, skiing went from transportation based into a recreational and competitive sporting activity. The first slalom competition was held in Switzerland in 1922. Men’s and women’s alpine skiing both debuted in the Olympics in 1936. The only event that year was a combo of both downhill and slalom. In the 1948 Olympics, two additional skiing events were added: separate downhill and slalom races. Giant slalom was added in 1952 and super giant slalom in 1988.
Before downhill skiing was added to the Olympics, both cross country skiing and ski jumping were added. Men’s cross country skiing debuted at the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924, with the women’s event added many years later. Ski jumping debuted that same year in Chamonix.
• Alpine – also known as downhill skiing. This type of skiing usually takes place at a ski resort and is characterized with boots that are fixed-heel bindings with toe and heel. The skiers tend to race either each other to the finish line, or they do separate timed trials based on speed. One of the most popular form of alpine skiing is slalom, which includes racing between poles or gates.
• Nordic – this includes cross-country skiing and ski jumping. They both use bindings at the toes of the boots but not the heels.
• Telemark – This type of skiing deals with ski turning techniques that combines aspects of both downhill and nordic skiing (heels are detached from ski). It is a FIS sanctioned discipline that includes often downhill racing between poles or gates.
• Freestyle - skiing competitions also include a number of freestyle events. In these, skiers compete in heats and attempt to score the most points (usually on a 0-100 scale) on a specific run based on style and difficulty. These events normally take place in terrain parks where skiers can work with ramps and rails, or on halfpipes/big air-style ramps.