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The Winter Olympics: Alpine Skiing

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Part 2: Slaloms and Combined

The slalom is a combination of speed and agility. Skiers race down the mountain on their skis, avoiding a series of obstacles along the way.

A slalom course has poles, or "gates," that are placed closer together, so that a skier seems to be twisting and turning down the mountain. The giant slalom and Super-G events have gates that are farther apart, which makes athletes do more of an elaborate zig-zag run. Giant slalom and super-G also have fewer gates, which means fewer turns, which means faster speeds. And the super-G is the longest race of the three.

Athletes must ski between pairs of these poles. They are not really solid poles, made of wood or metal. Rather, they are a hard plastic. You will often see athletes strike these poles with their hands as they race by. Most slalom skiers today use a technique called "cross-blocking," in which they use their left hand to hit the pole on their right side and the right hand to hit the pole on their left side.

Slalom equipment includes a helmet, face guard, hand guards, and shin pads. A slalom athlete's skis are not as long as a downhiller's.

The combined is one downhill followed by two slalom runs. The fastest combined time wins the combined event.

First page > Downhill > Page 1, 2

Alpine Skiing
Slaloms and Combined

Where: Sestriere and San Sicario Fraiteve
February 12–25

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