Alpine Skiing Terms Explained

Alpine: Relating to high mountains.   

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.