Friday, February 10, 2006

SKIING

It was not long before Man worked out how to move quickly through deep snow in the wilder parts of the world, as paintings discovered in the 1930s clearly portray. On the ancient artefacts, which were found in Russia and are thought to be at least 6000 years old, a hunter on rudimentary skis is clearly identifiable alongside reindeers. It is virtually certain that a form of skiing has been an integral part of life in colder countries since that time.

Obviously the principal use of skis until recently was for the transportation of goods and people or for the swift movement of soldiers patrolling remote, icy borders. Horses were clearly not much use in three metres of snow, so other methods had to be developed and skis quickly became as natural an accoutrement of everyday life as hats and gloves.

The Olympic Winter Games present five disciplines of Skiing: Alpine, Cross Country, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined, Freestyle as well as Snowboarding. To compete in these various disciplines one needs to master speed, endurance, dexterity, and determination.

ALPINE SKIING

People began strapping skis to their feet as far back as 5000 years ago. It is believed that Norwegians were the first - they used skis as a way of hunting across snow-covered terrain. From Norway, skiing spread throughout Scandinavia and Russia as a mode of winter transportation and eventually as a sport similar to cross-country skiing. Alpine skiing evolved from cross-country skiing. The first alpine skiing competition, a primitive downhill, was held in the 1850s in Oslo. A few decades later, the sport spread to the remainder of Europe and to the United States, where miners held skiing competitions to entertain themselves during the winter.

The first slalom was organized in 1922 in Mürren, Switzerland, and two years later such a race became the first Olympic Alpine event. The Arlberg-Kandahar, a combined slalom and downhill event, is now referred to as the first legitimate Alpine event - the race that planted the seed for Alpine's inclusion in the Olympic programme.

Alpine skiing became part of the Olympic programme at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games with a men's and women's combined event.

COMPETITION

The Olympic Alpine competition consists of ten events: five for women and five for men. The rules are the same for men and women, but the courses differ. In all cases, time is measured to .01 seconds and ties are permitted.

THE ALPINE EVENTS

Downhill: The downhill features the longest course and the highest speeds in Alpine skiing. Each skier makes a single run down a single course and the fastest time determines the winner.

Super-G: Super-G stands for super giant slalom, an event that combines the speed of downhill with the more precise turns of giant slalom. The course is shorter than downhill but longer than a giant slalom course. Each skier makes one run down a single course and the fastest time determines the winner.

Giant slalom: Also known as the GS. It is a similar version to the slalom, with fewer turns and wider, smoother turns. Each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. Both runs take place on the same day, usually with the first run held in the morning and the second run in the afternoon. The times are added, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

Slalom: The slalom features the shortest course and the quickest turns. As in the giant slalom, each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. Both runs take place on the same day. The times are added and the fastest total time determines the winner.

Combined: The combined event consists of one downhill followed by two slalom runs. The times are added together and the fastest total time determines the winner. The combined downhill and the combined slalom are contested independently of the regular downhill and slalom events, and the combined courses are shorter than the regular versions. In 2002, for the first time at an Olympic Winter Games, the entire combined event is being held on a single day at the same venue. Also, the combined slalom is held on the lower part of the combined downhill slope, which has not always been the case.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

There is evidence that primitive skis were used in Norway over 5000 years ago. As early as the 10th century, Vikings used skis for transportation. It wasn't until the 19th century, however, that ski competitions came into existence, starting in Norway. The famous Holmenkollen ski festival was started in 1892. At first, the main focus of these Nordic festivals was the Nordic combined event - cross-country skiing and ski jumping. In 1900, a separate cross-country race was held at the Holmenkollen.

COMPETITION


At the Olympic Winter Games, the cross-country discipline comprises twelve different cross-country skiing events. Women compete in the sprint, team sprint, 10km individual start, 15km pursuit, 30km mass start and the 4x5km relay. Men compete in the sprint, team sprint, 15km individual start, 30km pursuit, 50km mass start and the 4x10km relay.

Sprint Events

The sprint begins with individual time trials on the sprint course with a 15-second interval start. The fastest 16 athletes move on to elimination heats. The top two finishers in each quarter-final advance to the semi-final rounds, which are held as two heats of four athletes each. The final round consists of one heat of four athletes (two from each semi-final heat).

Team Sprint Events

The team sprint event consists of semi-finals and final rounds. In the semi-final heats there are 10 or more teams consisting of two athletes (A and B) who perform the relay three times (A, B, A, B, A, B). The best five teams qualify for the final.

Pursuit Events

The pursuit events have a mass start and the athletes use both techniques within the same race. During a pit stop at the stadium after half of the race distance has been completed, the athletes change equipment from the classical to free technique.

Mass Start

Competitors start simultaneously, lined up in rows. The first competitor across the finish line wins the race.

Interval Start

Competitors start in intervals of 30 or 15 seconds depending on the event. The athlete with the fastest individual time wins.

Relays

A team consists of four athletes, each of whom skis one leg of the race and then tags off to a team-mate. The relay has a mass start.

FREESTYLE SKIING

It has been suggested that, Freestyle skiing is a product of America in the 1960s, when social change and freedom of expression led to new and exciting skiing techniques. Originally a mix of alpine skiing and acrobatics, freestyle skiing developed over the decades into the present-day Olympic sport. The International Ski Federation (FIS) recognised freestyle as a discipline in 1979 and brought in new regulations regarding certification of athletes and jump techniques in an effort to curb some of the dangerous elements of the competitions. The first FIS World Cup series was staged in 1980 and the first FIS World Championships took place in 1986 in Tignes, France, featuring moguls, aerials and ballet. Freestyle skiing, where skiers perform aerial manoeuvres while skiing downhill, was a demonstration event at the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary in 1988. Mogul skiing was added to the official programme of the Albertville Games in 1992 and Aerials were added at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.

COMPETITION

Moguls

The moguls competition consists of a run down a heavily moguled course with two jumps. The Olympic format is a one-run elimination round followed by a one-run final of 16 20 women and 16 20 men. In the finals, competitors ski in the reverse order of their finish in the qualification round. The skier with the highest score in the final round wins.

Aerials

The Olympic aerial format consists of a two-jump qualification followed by a two-jump final. The combined scores from the two jumps in the qualification round determine who qualifies for the finals, with 12 men and 12 women advancing to the finals. Scores from the qualification round do not carry over to the finals.

NORDIC COMBINED

Nordic combined has its 5,000 year-old roots in Norway. It involves ski jumping, which requires physical strength and technical control, and cross-country skiing which demands endurance and strength. Nordic combined individual events have been included since the 1st Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix - Mont Blanc in 1924.

COMPETITION

All three Nordic combined events consist of a ski jumping competition and a cross-country skiing race. For the Individual Gundersen event, ski jumping takes place on the normal hill (90 metres). For the Team and the sprint events, ski jumping takes place on the large hill (120m). The cross-country portion of the Individual Gundersen event has a 15km race, the sprint event has a 7.5km race, and the team event has a 4x5km relay.

Individual Gundersen - Each competitor in the Individual Gundersen event takes two jumps on the normal hill during the first part of the competition. Each jump is scored for length and style. In the second part of the competition, each competitor participates in the 15km cross-country race. The start order for this race is determined by the ski jumping results. The winner of the ski jumping competition starts in first place and the points from ski jumping are converted into time differences for the starting order of the cross-country race.

Sprint - The sprint event is contested with a large-hill competition and a 7.5km cross-country race. Unlike in the individual Gundersen event, the ski jumping portion of the sprint event is performed on the large hill and includes one jump instead of two. In the second part of the competition, each competitor will compete in the 7.5km cross-country event. The start order for this race is determined on the basis of the ski jumping results. The winner of the ski jumping competition starts in first place and the points from ski jumping are converted into time differences for the starting order of the cross-country race Team.

Each team consists of four jumpers who take two jumps off the normal hill on the first part of the competition. The team's score in the jumping portion is the total score of the eight jumps. The same skiers who participate in the jumping must compete in the 4x5km relay. As in the Individual Gundersen and SPRINT events, the Gundersen Method is used to determine the start times in the relay. The winner is the team whose final skier crosses the finish line first.

SKI JUMPING

Ski jumping has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since the first Games in Chamonix Mont-Blanc in 1924. The Large Hill competition was included on the Olympic programme for the 1964 Olympic Gamess in Innsbruck.

COMPETITION

Three ski jumping events are held at the Olympic Games.

Individual normal hill - The only ski jumping event from the normal hill, which has a K-point between 75 and 99 metres high. There are two jumps (first and final round), and the athlete with the highest total score is declared the winner. After a qualification round, there are 50 athletes participating in the first round. In the final round the field is reduced to 30 athletes.

Individual large hill - This event is contested on the large hill, which has a K-point larger than 100 metres. There are two jumps (first and final round), and the athlete with the highest total score is declared the winner. After a qualification in the first round there are are 50 athletes participating. In the final round the field is reduced to 30 athletes.

Team Event - This event is usually contested on the large hill. There are four members on each team, and there are two jumps (first and final round). In the first round all teams start. In the final round the field is reduced on the eight best teams. The team with the highest total score over the eight jumps is declared the winner.

SNOWBOARD

For the first time in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, snowboarding was introduced as an official event with giant slalom and halfpipe featured at the Nagano Games in 1998. Snowboarding was developed in the United States in the 1960s as people across the country began to seek out new winter activities. Over the next decade, different pioneers boosted the production of boards and the overall interest in snowboarding. Surfers and skateboarders became involved, and by 1980, snowboarding was a nationwide activity. Competition was the next logical step. Competition and national and international federation influence began in the 1980s. The United States held its first national championships in 1982 and hosted the first World Championships in 1983. In 1987, a four-stop World Cup tour was established, with two stops in the United States and two in Europe. The International Snowboarding Federation (ISF) was formed in 1990 and on request of the International Ski Federation (FIS) National Ski Associations, many of which organised ski and snowboard competitions, the FIS introduced Snowboarding as a FIS discipline in 1994. This enabled snowboarding’s eligibility for the Olympic Winter Games, and the discipline was added to the Olympic programme as of the 1998 Games in Nagano (JPN).

COMPETITION

There are six snowboard events on the programme of the Olympic Winter Games: men’s halfpipe, ladies’ halfpipe, men’s parallel giant slalom and ladies’ parallel giant slalom, men’s snowboard cross and ladies’ snowboard cross. Both halfpipe and giant slalom events were staged at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, where the sport of snowboarding made its debut.

The parallel giant slalom events appeared on the Salt Lake City Olympic programme for the first time, replacing the two giant slalom events that were contested in Nagano.

Halfpipe - The halfpipe competition takes place in a half-cylinder-shaped course dug deep into the hill. Using speed gained on the slope, snowboarders come up over the rim of the pipe and perform acrobatic aerial tricks. The object of the halfpipe is to perform difficult tricks with perfect form.

Alpine - Parallel giant slalom - An exciting version of Alpine snowboarding, parallel giant slalom features head-to-head matches on the mountain. After the qualification round, a 16-person tournament is established and competitors battle it out on two side-by-side courses until there is a winner.

Snowboard Cross - A challenging route including jumps and obstacles conveys a “Formula One” atmosphere. The heats consist of four riders who start at the same time, whereby the best two in the finish proceed to the next round.

For the first time in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, snowboarding was introduced as an official event with giant slalom and halfpipe featured at the Nagano Games in 1998. Snowboarding was developed in the United States in the 1960s as people across the country began to seek out new winter activities. Over the next decade, different pioneers boosted the production of boards and the overall interest in snowboarding. Surfers and skateboarders became involved, and by 1980, snowboarding was a nationwide activity. Competition was the next logical step. Competition and national and international federation influence began in the 1980s. The United States held its first national championships in 1982 and hosted the first World Championships in 1983. In 1987, a four-stop World Cup tour was established, with two stops in the United States and two in Europe. The International Snowboarding Federation (ISF) was formed in 1990 and on request of the International Ski Federation (FIS) National Ski Associations, many of which organised ski and snowboard competitions, the FIS introduced Snowboarding as a FIS discipline in 1994. This enabled snowboarding’s eligibility for the Olympic Winter Games, and the discipline was added to the Olympic programme as of the 1998 Games in Nagano (JPN).

COMPETITION

There are six snowboard events on the programme of the Olympic Winter Games: men’s halfpipe, ladies’ halfpipe, men’s parallel giant slalom and ladies’ parallel giant slalom, men’s snowboard cross and ladies’ snowboard cross. Both halfpipe and giant slalom events were staged at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, where the sport of snowboarding made its debut. The parallel giant slalom events appeared on the Salt Lake City Olympic programme for the first time, replacing the two giant slalom events that were contested in Nagano.

Halfpipe

The halfpipe competition takes place in a half-cylinder-shaped course dug deep into the hill. Using speed gained on the slope, snowboarders come up over the rim of the pipe and perform acrobatic aerial tricks. The object of the halfpipe is to perform difficult tricks with perfect form.

Alpine - Parallel giant slalom

An exciting version of Alpine snowboarding, parallel giant slalom features head-to-head matches on the mountain. After the qualification round, a 16-person tournament is established and competitors battle it out on two side-by-side courses until there is a winner.

Snowboard Cross

A challenging route including jumps and obstacles conveys a “Formula One” atmosphere. The heats consist of four riders who start at the same time, whereby the best two in the finish proceed to the next round.

http://www.olympic.org/uk/sports/programme/index_uk.asp?SportCode=SI

4 comments:

Velociman said...

Hey, Deborah! Thanks for putting me on your blogroll. I added you to mine today. Well, truth be told, I kind of went the extra mile. I like this post. Some of my friends may stop by. I told them to be nice.

Your pen pal,

Velociman

James Hooker said...

Velocihova ordered me here. I didn't want to come. I really didn't, but the coffee hadn't kicked in yet and I was helpless. Sort of like - "I'm not going to witness that car wreck, no matter what." Then again, I've learned things about snow I didn't know before, other than snow really blows. I think I'll go now and read some more of your stuff. Any dirty pictures?

Deborah said...

Hi, James! Welcome to my Corner. Glad you came, no matter how you got here.

Dirty pictures? Well, it HAS been awhile since I dusted....

eXtreme Sports said...

Wow, I really dig your blog man. It's so cool your into sports like that. I wish I had the guts to do the same. I dared to make a website about it: eXtreme Sports, Greetz Xtreme!