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. 

Carve

A crisp turn. 

Combined

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

Downhill

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

Fall line

The most direct route down a ski slope. 

Forerunner

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

FIS

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

Gate

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.

Hairpin

Two slalom gates set vertically down the hill in succession. 

Netting

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

Schuss

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

Slalom

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

Speed event

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

Straddling

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. 

Super-G

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. 

Tuck

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. 

Vertical

The difference in elevation between the summit and the base. 

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