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Teams GB's Class of 2014

Teams GB's Class of 2014

Class of 2014

The end of the year is closing in, so we’re taking a look back at our year and announcing the Sochi 2014 w...

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History

Although skiing as a mode of winter transport dates back thousands of years, with Norway a believed source, it did, in more recent times, develop into a cross-country sport and then extended into a downhill event. The first alpine skiing competition, a primitive downhill, was held in Oslo in the 1850s. Only decades later it had spread as a sport to the rest of Europe and the USA, where miners are reputed to have held skiing competitions for winter entertainment.

Modern alpine racing was invented by Englishman Sir Arnold Lunn and Austrian Hannes Schneider. Lunn, the son of a London travel agent, spent his years travelling through the Alps and envisioning racing through the majestic range. Lunn organised the first slalom in 1922 in Muerren, Switzerland, and joined forces with Schneider two years later to organise the race that would become 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 program.

The first World Championships for men’s downhill and slalom events was held in 1931.

Women’s events were added in 1950. In 1966, Serge Lang, with the help of French ski coach Honore Bonnet and U.S. ski coach Bob Beattie, founded the FIS World Cup. The first competitive season was 1966-1967.

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

 

Olympic History

At an IOC congress in 1910 the idea of forming an international ski federation was discussed and the Commission Internationale de Ski emerged to help guide the sport over the next fourteen years. In 1914 a proposal for the inclusion of ski events in the Olympics Games was put forward, however no approval was given.

Skiing featured as a demonstration sport at the Chamonix 1924 Games however the debate over the sport’s Olympic inclusion still raged. Both Norway and Finland voted against the inclusion of Olympic skiing as they thought it might detract from their own well-established international competitions.

Despite its status as one of the blue riband events of the Winter Olympics, it was not until 1936 at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games that alpine skiing made its debut when the combined (downhill and slalom) events for both men and women were held. This event was dropped eight years later and only reappeared at Calgary 1988 alongside the inaugural inclusion of the super G.

Slalom and downhill were added at the1948 St Moritz Games and the first giant slalom competition was held in 1952.

Technical

The Olympic alpine competition consists of 10 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.

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 looser version of 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. Athletes are not allowed to take training runs through the courses, but on race days, they can inspect each course by skiing slowly alongside it. Inspection of the second run does not begin until all the racers have had a chance to ski the first run.

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. Athletes are not allowed to take training runs through the courses, but on race day, they can inspect each course by skiing slowly alongside it. Inspection of the second run does not begin until all the racers have had a chance to ski the first run.

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.

equipment

From helmet and goggles to skis and poles, all the equipment is state-of-the-art. Men’s alpine skis must be a minimum of 155 centimetres and women’s skis must be at least 150cm. At the bindings, the skis must be at least 60 millimetres wide. Other size restrictions are regulated based on the discipline and gender.

Alpine skis have undergone significant transformation over the past few years, especially in the slalom discipline, becoming much smaller in length, and wider in the shovel (the area just below the tip of the ski) and the tail.

In slalom and giant slalom, the minimum height of the shovel tip is 50mm. In downhill and super G, the minimum tip height is 30mm. There are no restrictions on the maximum length of the skis, their weight, camber, flexibility or composition.

Restrictions are also in place to limit the height that the boot can be above the top surface of the ski, with binding plates and boot insoles limited in thickness. More height means greater leverage on the ski, more flexibility and control.

rules

Downhill

Unlike in the other alpine disciplines, the downhill course is set by an International Ski Federation (FIS) official rather than a representative of one of the competing nations. In downhill, the gates are marked by red flags and dictate where a skier must turn (in other disciplines, gates alternate between blue and red). There is no hard rule that dictates how much distance must lie between downhill gates.

The course must be clear of all obstacles, but pine needles are often scattered along the course to aid athletes’depth perception. This is especially useful when an airborne racer is trying to land a jump. Padding and netting also may exist along the side of the course to cushion a fall or prevent a racer from sliding into the forest.

For safety, there are two downhill training runs held on the Olympic slope prior to race day. Although an athlete benefits from completing both training runs, it is only required that a competitor pass through the start gate once. On race day, athletes may inspect the course by side-slipping through it.

 

Super-G

The super-G course is normally set the day before the race. The course must have a minimum of 35 changes of direction for the men and at least 30 changes of direction for the women. The gates are set alternately red and blue. (Note: Not every gate necessarily mandates a “change of direction.”)

Unlike in the downhill, there are no training runs on the super-G course, only a race-day inspection. Athletes must memorise the course quickly, trust their instincts to find the fastest line, and have already mastered the technique to produce an error-free run.

 

Giant Slalom

In giant slalom, the number of turns is determined by the vertical drop of the course, for 2006 Men’s drop 450m, Ladies’ drop 400m. The vertical drop, or altitude change, is figured by subtracting the elevation at the finish from the elevation at the start. The number of turns is not synonymous with the number of gates, since some gates might not require a direction change.

Weather permitting, the first course should be set the day before the race.

A men’s slalom course requires 55-75 gates. A women’s course requires 45-65. Gates are set with alternating red and blue flags. Weather permitting, the first course should be set the day before the race.

 

Combined

The combined event is held on two distinct courses — one for downhill and one for slalom. The downhill-combined course is set by an International Ski Federation official — the race director — rather than a representative of one of the nations. The two slalom-combined courses are set by two different people representing two different nations.

Our Results

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St Moritz 1948
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Oslo 1952
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Squaw Valley 1960
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Innsbruck 1964
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Grenoble 1968
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Sapporo 1972
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Innsbruck 1976
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Lake Placid 1980
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Sarajevo 1984
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Calgary 1988
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Albertville 1992
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Lillehammer 1994
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Nagano 1998
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Salt Lake City 2002
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Turin 2006
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Vancouver 2010
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Winter EYOF 2013
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Sochi 2014
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