Alpine skiing 101: Glossary

PyeongChang gate

Alpine skiing

Racing down a mountain, unlike cross-country skiing, which is raced on mostly flat ground.   

Bluebird day

A calm and sunny day after a night of snowfall. 


A crisp turn. 


An event with one downhill run, followed by one slalom run.


A speed event with the longest course and the fastest speeds.

Fall line

The most direct route down a ski slope. 


An athlete who takes a run down the course before a race to ensure that the course is safe.  


The sport’s international federation. It stands for Federation Internationale de Ski. 


A plastic pole used to mark the course for skiers to follow. Closed gates are vertically arranged, and open gates are horizontally arranged. 

Giant slalom

A technical event that features fewer and wider turns than slalom.


Two slalom gates set vertically down the hill in succession. 


Padding used to cushion a fall and to prevent athletes from sliding into wooded areas.


When the skis are parallel and pointed downward, allowing the skier to move straight and fast down the mountain. 


A technical event with the shortest course and the quickest turns.

Speed event

The fastest alpine ski events: downhill and super-G.


A mistake where a skier passes over a gate with one ski on one side of the pole and the other ski on the opposite side. 


A speed event that requires more technical skills than downhill. It is an abbreviation for super giant slalom.

Technical event

Events with rapid turns: slalom and giant slalom. 


A position where the skier squats and keeps his or her arms close to the body. It is used in speed events to reduce wind resistance and maximize speed. 


The difference in elevation between the summit and the base. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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