1. Ski Sports

Date: 30 August 2022
Skiing Sports part 1

What are Skiing Sports?


Why do women not compete in sports that men are predominant in? Well, here is why!  This Blog is a 7- to 10-minute read.


Skiing is a means of transport using skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation.



Alpine skiing, or downhill skiing, is the pastime of sliding down snow-covered slopes on skis. It’s what most people know. It’s done at lift-assisted ski resorts with groomed runs that are marked and patrolled. Downhill skiers wear stiff plastic boots that click into fixed-heel bindings mounted to shaped skis. To get down, downhill skiers generally keep their skis parallel while making turns.



Nordic Combined

Nordic skiing encompasses the various types of skiing

Olympic events are competitive cross-country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon and Nordic combined—competition in which athletes both cross-country ski and ski jump. Often abbreviated as XC or called Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing is typically done on rolling landscapes that are gentler than downhill skiing terrain. The skis are long and skinny and the boots are flexible and designed to attach to the skis via bindings that leave your heels free to lift. With this style of skiing, you use human power to climb hills rather than take a lift. There are two primary styles of cross-country skiing:

Classic skiing: This is a style of cross-country skiing where your skis remain parallel as you kick and glide forward and back (sometimes called a diagonal stride). You can do this at a groomed cross-country ski area with parallel tracks that your skis go in, or you can head out on ungroomed terrains, such as a forest road or a big open field.

Skate skiing: Skate skiing is a style of cross-county skiing that uses slightly shorter skis than classic. To propel yourself forward, you kick your skis out to the side, similarly to how you would while ice skating. To move efficiently, you generally need to be on a trail groomed for skate skiing.

  • Individual: The ski-jumping is conducted on a normal hill on day 1 followed by a 15km cross-country ski on day 2.
  • Sprint: Ski-jump from a large hill on day1 followed by a 7.5km ski the following day.
  • Team: Four athletes compete, where each makes two jumps on the first day, followed by a 4 X 5km relay race the following day.





Telemark skiing is a skiing technique that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Telemark skiing is named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the discipline originated. Telemark is a niche type of skiing that’s defined by the way you turn. With special bindings and boots designed specifically for telemark, your heels remain unlocked at all times and you carve turns with a lunging motion that puts your forward leg in a distinctive bent-knee position. Many telemark skiers use backcountry skis. You can use this gear and technique at a downhill ski resort or in the backcountry. If you choose to head into the backcountry, you need some additional equipment, such as climbing skins and avalanche safety equipment, as well as proper avalanche training.



Back Country Skiing

Backcountry skiing (sometimes called off-piste skiing) is any type of skiing done outside the patrolled boundaries of a ski area. It’s often done with alpine touring or telemark gear, where you use climbing skins and bindings with a free-heel feature to ski uphill and then back down. But skiers who use standard downhill equipment and ride a lift uphill can often access backcountry terrain by leaving ski-area boundaries (terrain accessed from a ski resort is sometimes called side country or slack country because of the easy access). Before you can go backcountry skiing, you absolutely must be equipped and properly trained for avalanche assessment and rescue. You learn more about avalanche safety and travelling in the backcountry with our backcountry skiing skills articles.



Alpine Touring

This is a style of backcountry skiing that’s sometimes called AT for short or by the French word, randonnee. With alpine touring, you use special bindings that can switch between free-heel and fixed-heel modes so you can ascend slopes with your heels unlocked (climbing skins provide traction). When you get to the top, you remove your climbing skins, lock your heels back down and descend by making parallel turns as you would when downhill skiing. Before travelling in the backcountry, you must be equipped and properly trained for avalanche assessment and rescue.



Ski Mountaineering:

Ski mountaineering is a subclass of backcountry skiing with a focus on reaching the summit of a peak and skiing back down. Ski mountaineers typically use alpine touring equipment to travel across snowy slopes and glaciers. In addition to your standard backcountry gear, you may need things like ski cramponsboot crampons, an ice axe and rope.



Free Style Skiing

This is an acrobatic form of skiing that can include moguls, jumps and aerial manoeuvres such as twists and somersaults. It’s generally done at a downhill ski resort where terrain features are created specifically for freestyle skiing.




Cross Country Skiing:



Ski Jumping:



Freeriding skiing:



Speed Skiing



Aerial skiing



Mogul skiing



Ski ballet (Acroski)



Ski cross



Half-pipe skiing






The following disciplines are sanctioned by the FIS. Many have their own world cups and are included in the Winter Olympic Games.


Cross Country Skiing:

Cross-country skiing, is in the open country over rolling, hilly terrain as found in Scandinavian countries, where the sport originated as a means of travel as well as recreation and where it remains popular. In its non-competitive form, the sport is also known as ski touring.

The skis used are longer, narrower, and lighter than those used in more-mountainous, Alpine-type terrain. In addition, the bindings allow movement between the heel of the skier’s boot and the ski, and the ski poles are longer than those used in Alpine skiing. There are two techniques of cross-country skiing. Using the older classical technique, a skier travels with skis parallel and kicks backwards to create a gliding motion across the snow. The more-recent skating, or freestyle, technique, developed in the 1970s, closely resembles the motions of ice skating. With this technique the skier pushes the inside edge of the ski simultaneously backwards and outward at about a 45° angle, thereby generating more speed than with the classical style.

Cross-country races or Nordic races are held over somewhat circular courses. The standard lengths of international races are 10, 15, 30, and 50 km for men and 5, 10, 15, and 30 km for women. Many traditional contests are longer—the Vasaloppet in Sweden is 90 km (56 mi). Race organizers may stipulate which of the skiing techniques are permitted in an event. Contestants usually begin at intervals, and the lowest time determines the winner.

In a cross-country relay race, four men each ski a 10-km course, or four women a 5-km course. Cross-country competitions also include pursuit races. A pursuit event is held over two days. On the first day, the skiers compete in a traditional cross-country race, but on the second day, the skiers’ starts are staggered according to the times of the previous day. The pack chases the leader and the first across the finish line wins. Cross-country skiing is not as dangerous as other skiing events, but it demands much stamina, especially for longer distances.



Ski Jumping:

Ski jumping, is a competitive skiing event in which contestants ski down a steep ramp that curves upward at the end or take-off point. Skiers leap from the end, trying to cover as much horizontal distance in the air as possible.

A ski jump begins with the approach, or in the run, which often starts on a scaffold, or tower; the jumper skis down it in a crouched position, accumulating speed (as much as 100 km [62 miles] per hour) until he reaches the take-off, where he springs outward and upward. Owing to the risk of travelling downhill at such high speeds and the concurrent possibility of landing too far at the bottom of the hill, judges are given the authority to lower the starting point of a jump in order to decrease the maximum potential speed of jumpers.

Once in the air, competitors can rely only on body position to maximize their jump. Until the early 1990s the preferred position of most jumpers was to lean far forward from the ankles with knees straight and skis held parallel and inclined slightly upward. This position minimizes wind resistance and contributes an aerodynamic lifting effect to increase the length of the jump.

The landing of a jump is made on a steep section of the hill in a more upright position, with the shock of contact taken up by the knees and hips and one ski farther forward than the other (the telemark position). After the slope levels off, the jumper stops his forward momentum by turning. In addition to the judges’ ability to lower the starting point, other precautions are taken to prevent overjumping, including limits on ski length and ski-suit thickness (thicker suits permit more air to be trapped in the suit and thereby allow for longer jumps) and rules for the placement of bindings on skis. The hills have also been altered for safety; hills are now contoured to ensure that a jumper is rarely more than 3 to 4.5 metres (10 to 15 feet) above the ground during a jump.

Competitors make two jumps. Performance is decided partly by distance covered and partly by form, on the basis of style marks awarded by five judges. Concerning distance, a jump to the K-point (where the distance from the starting point equals the height of the hill) garners a jumper 60 points, with additional points added for each metre beyond the K-point. Style points are deducted for such errors as touching the ground with a hand after landing or not landing with one foot before the other.



Freeriding skiing:

Freeride is the term given to skiing and snowboarding in natural, un-pisted (usually steep and sometimes rocky) terrain. The term freeride is allied with other words such as “Big Mountain” or “Extreme” which are largely used to describe the same activity.

Freeride competition involves being judged on how well you ski or snowboard down a designated “competition face”. At a world-class level outstanding performances involve a complex combination of creative line selection, technical off-piste riding and impressive air & style, all wrapped up into one seamless, fast and fluid run down an open, extreme competition face. It can be inspiring and jaw-dropping to watch and very challenging but rewarding to compete and do well.



Nordic Combined:

Nordic Combined is a winter sport which involves competing in ski jumping and cross-country skiing as a part of a single competition. The sport has been part of the Olympics since 1924, and has been dominated by athletes from the Nordic countries. Competitions are conducted as a two-day event in which athletes compete in the ski jumping part of the race on day 1 followed by the cross-country part on the following day. The results of the ski jumping part of the race are used to determine the starting order for the cross-country part of the race.

The cross-country part of the race has a staggered start, with the athlete who had the best jump starting at 00h:00m:00s, followed by one athlete at a time, each starting after a time delay. The athlete to first cross the finish line of the cross-country part of the race is declared the winner.

Races can be contested individually or in teams. The three main formats of race are,

  • Individual: The ski-jumping is conducted on a normal hill on day 1 followed by a 15km cross-country ski on day 2.
  • Sprint: Ski-jump from a large hill on day1 followed by a 7.5km ski the following day.
  • Team: Four athletes compete, where each makes two jumps on the first day, followed by a 4 X 5km relay race the following day.



Alpine Skiing:

Modern Alpine competitive skiing is divided into the so-called speed and technical events, the former comprising downhill skiing and the super giant slalom, or super-G, and the latter including the slalom and giant slalom. The speed events are contested in single runs down long, steep, fast courses featuring few and widely spaced turns. The technical events challenge the skier’s ability to manoeuvre over courses marked by closely spaced gates through which both skis must pass; winners are determined by the lowest combined time in two runs on two different courses. The Alpine combined event consists of a downhill and a slalom race, with the winner having the lowest combined time.



Speed Skiing:

Speed skiing, a competitive skiing event in which racers equipped with special short skis,   suits, and aerodynamic helmets compete to achieve the fastest speed on a steep, straight, and meticulously prepared track. A dangerous pastime, it is frequently billed as “the fastest non-motorized sport on earth.”

Speed skiing began in the 1930s as an advertising stunt for a ski resort in St. Moritz, Switz. Racers experimented with cones that covered their backs from the helmet down, which presented a more streamlined and aerodynamic figure when a skier was crouched into a “tuck” position. Some racers skied with as much as 71 pounds (32 kg) of ballast on their skis to increase their acceleration. By 1933 speeds of 85 miles (136 km) per hour were being reached by skiers carrying such weights.

Ski manufacturers stood to gain an economic advantage when their equipment produced the fastest speeds, and they began using wind-tunnel tests in search of better designs and to provide scientific evidence of their product’s superiority. The sport generated international interest when American skiers, training in South America, were unofficially timed at nearly 108 miles (174 km) per hour. After preparing specific courses in their home country (the most famous of which is at Cervinia), Italians pushed the record up to almost 109 miles (175 km) per hour in 1964. Americans returned to the fore in the 1970s and early ’80s with speeds up to about 125 miles (200 km) per hour.

Since the 1960s speed skiing has become a mix of amateur and professional sports in which men and women compete on a circuit of tracks around the world, though mostly in Europe. The main governing body for speed skiing events is the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS; International Ski Federation). As an advisory body to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIS has lobbied for the inclusion of speed skiing in the Olympic Winter Games. While the IOC wants to limit the speed of the skiers to about 125 miles per hour, such measures have proved controversial; in spite of several deaths in the sport, the top racers are adamantly opposed to such limits. The IOC sanctioned speed skiing as a demonstration event at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, but since then it has not appeared on the Olympic program.

Speed skiing was once nearly an exclusively male sport, but it began to attract women in the 1960s. In 1963 the women’s record stood at just over 89 miles (143 km) per hour, some 19 miles (30 km) per hour slower than the men’s record. In the 1970s and ’80s, as a result of women’s increased interest and participation in sports generally, and because of the growth of what is now called “extreme sports,” women took speeds to more than 125 miles per hour in the 1980s. Meanwhile, men reached speeds in excess of 150 miles (240 km) per hour, speeds which later were also attained by women.

Speed skis must be exactly 2.4 metres (about 7.8 feet) long, no wider than 10 cm (a little less than 4 inches), and weigh no more than 15 kg (33 pounds). Other special equipment includes fire-resistant foam ski suits to avoid friction burns during a fall, fairings (little wings) attached to the suit behind the calves to reduce wind resistance, and aerodynamic helmets. The expense of the specialized equipment, along with the danger of extreme injury, limits speed skiing to a small segment of skiers. Many of the racers are ex-downhillers who still want the thrill of speed as they age but no longer have the reflexes for the quick turning required in competitive Alpine skiing.



Freestyle skiing 

Freestyle skiing, combines skiing and acrobatics. The sport has experimented with a range of events, but there are two that have been constant through the course of the sport’s international competition: aerials and moguls.

Somersaults and other tricks were exhibited before 1914 and became popular meet additions in the early 1920s. Such stunts performed in the air (now called aerials) were developed in the 1950s, especially by Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen. Currently, there are two varieties: upright and inverted. Flips or any movements where a competitor’s feet are higher than his head are not allowed in upright competition. Instead, the skier performs such jumps as the daffy (one ski extended forward, the other backward) or the spread eagle. In inverted competition contestants execute flips and somersaults, often reaching heights of 12.2 to 15.2 metres (40 to 50 feet). The skiers build up speed on the inrun, which leads to various ramps and a landing hill with an incline of 34°–39° and a length of 30 metres (100 feet). Based on the degree of difficulty, the routine is scored on form and technique (50 percent), takeoff and height (20 percent), and landing (30 percent).

Mogul skiing arose soon after aerials in an effort to navigate the large bumps, called moguls, on many ski slopes. Competing on a steep (22°–32°), 200- to 270-metre (660- to 890-foot) course, the skier is scored on speed, turn techniques, and two mandatory upright jumps.

One of the first freestyle events was acro, also known as ballet, which was invented in the early 1930s in Europe. Utilizing moves from figure skating and gymnastics, the acro skier performed a 90-second routine set to music in which jumps, pole flips, and spins were executed while skiing on a gently sloping hill. By the 21st century acro had given way to the more-dramatic half-pipe and ski-cross competitions that were derived from snowboard events.



The Dangers and Safety for Ski Sports in General


Skiing-Related Injuries: Who, What, How, When, And a Bit of Prevention

Visit Physio Works



Suggested manufacturers, accessories and products for Ski jumping – just to name a few:

The Ski Bum

EVO Ski Gear




South African suppliers:






To all you avid gamers out there. Here are a few Ski games for you to enjoy!

  • Steep
  • Ski Jumping VR
  • Alpine Ski Racing
  • Alpine Skiing
  • Winter Sports
  • Ski Air Mix
  • Steep road to the Olympics
  • Snow


Please note: I do not take any responsibility for an accident, disability, death, public liability, third party, medical costs, destruction of property, damages to self or others, destruction of all equipment, disability, personal liability, general liability, self-harm, suicide, harm to livestock, harm to animals, harm to children and intentional bodily harm, for using any of the listed products and suppliers. Please consult with the manufacturers and instructors, when buying the equipment that is suitable for you.

If you wish to learn more about this sport and its history, just pop me a mail and I will send the information to you: info@tanyasworldofsports.co.za

When you are ready to take on those mounts, Please take a moment and bow to people that are disabled, that cannot take part in such sports.

My views, comments and content are strictly are of my own opinion and research and are not governed or influenced by any marketing of companies or brands. It is of my own free will to mention companies and brands that supply sporting equipment pertaining to the sport in the discussion.