Skiing can be a means of transport, a recreational activity or a competitive winter sport in which the participant uses skis to glide on snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Skiing has a history of almost five millennia. Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, it may have been practiced more than 100 centuries ago in what is now China, according to an interpretation of ancient paintings.
Asymmetrical skis were used at least in northern Finland and Sweden until the late 19th century. On one leg the skier wore a long straight non-arching ski for sliding and on the other a shorter ski for kicking. The bottom of the short ski was either plain or covered with animal skin to aid this use, while the long ski supporting the weight of the skier was treated with animal fat in a similar manner to modern ski waxing.
Until the mid-19th-century skiing was primarily used for transport, and since then has become a recreation and sport. Military ski races were held in Norway during the 18th century, and ski warfare was studied in the late 18th century. As equipment evolved and ski lifts were developed skiing evolved into two main genres during the late 19th and early 20th century, Alpine and Nordic.
Also called "downhill skiing", Alpine skiing typically takes place on a piste at a ski resort. It is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot. Because the Alpine equipment is somewhat difficult to walk in, ski lifts, including chairlifts, bring skiers up the slope. Backcountry skiing can be accessed by helicopter, snowcat, hiking and snowmobile. Facilities at resorts can include night skiing, après-ski, and glade skiing under the supervision of the ski patrol and the ski school. Alpine skiing branched off from the older Nordic type of skiing around the 1920s when the advent of ski lifts meant that it was not necessary to walk any longer. Alpine equipment has specialized to the point where it can now only be used with the help of lifts.
The Nordic disciplines include cross-country skiing and ski jumping, which both use bindings that attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Cross-country skiing may be practiced on groomed trails or in undeveloped backcountry areas. Ski jumping is practiced in certain areas that are reserved exclusively for ski jumping.
Telemark skiing is a ski turning technique and FIS-sanctioned discipline, which is named after the Telemark region of Norway. It uses equipment similar to Nordic skiing, where the ski bindings are attached only at the toes of the ski boots, allowing the skier's heel to be raised throughout the turn.
The following disciplines are sanctioned by the FIS. Many have their own world cups and are in the Winter Olympic Games.
- Cross-country – Encompasses a variety of formats for cross-country skiing races over courses of varying lengths. Races occur on homologated, groomed courses designed to support classic (in-track) and free-style events, where the skiers may employ skate skiing. The discipline also incorporates: cross-country ski marathon events, sanctioned by the Worldloppet Ski Federation; cross-country ski-orienteering events, sanctioned by the International Orienteering Federation; and biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiiing and rifle shooting.
- Ski jumping – Contested at the Winter Olympics, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, the FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping, and the FIS Ski-Flying World Championships.
- Nordic combined – A combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping, this discipline is contested at the Winter Olympics and at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup.
- Alpine skiing – Includes downhill, slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, and para-alpine events. Combined events are also contested where the competitors complete one run of each event, for example, the Super Combined event consists of one run of Super-G and one run of slalom skiing. The dual slalom event, where racers ski head-to-head, was invented in 1941 and has been contested since 1960.
- Speed skiing – Dating from 1898, with official records beginning in 1932 with an 89-mile-per-hour (143 km/h) run by Leo Gasperi, this became an FIS sport in the 1960s and a demonstration Olympic sport at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
- Freestyle skiing – Includes mogul skiing, aerials, ski cross, half-pipe, and slopestyle.
- Snowboarding – Includes slopestyle, cross, half-pipe, alpine, parallel slalom, and parallel giant slalom.
- Skiboarding – Using a snowboard in conjunction with standard ski boots, this discipline is essentially a combination of skiing and snowboarding.
- Telemark – Named after the Telemark region of Norway, this discipline combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing.
- Grass skiing – Originally developed as an alpine skiing training method, skiing on grass has become established as a skiing discipline in its own right.
Equipment used in skiing includes:
On other surfacesEdit
Originally and primarily a winter sport, skiing can also be practiced indoors without snow or outdoors on grass, on dry ski slopes, with ski simulators, or with roller skis. Some places use a treadmill like surface. With sand skiing the skier slides on sand, using conventional skis, ski poles, bindings and boots.
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