Slalom skiing

Slalom is an alpine skiing and alpine snowboarding discipline, involving skiing between poles or gates. These are spaced more closely than those in giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill, necessitating quicker and shorter turns. Internationally, the sport is contested at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and at the Olympic Winter Games.

Tonje Sekse competes in the slalom


Nathalie Eklund skis slalom at Trysil, Norway in 2011

The term slalom comes from the Morgedal/Seljord dialect of Norwegian word "slalåm": "sla", meaning "slightly inclining hillside", and "låm", meaning "track after skis".[1] The inventors of modern skiing classified their trails according to their difficulty. Slalåm was a trail used in Telemark by boys and girls not yet able to try themselves on the more challenging runs. Ufsilåm was a trail with one obstacle (ufse) like a jump, a fence, a difficult turn, a gorge, a cliff (often more than 10 metres (33 ft) high) and more. Uvyrdslåm was a trail with several obstacles.[2] A Norwegian military downhill competition in 1767 included racing downhill among trees "without falling or breaking skis". Sondre Norheim and other skiers from Telemark practiced uvyrdslåm or "disrespectful/reckless downhill" where they raced downhill in difficult and untested terrain (i.e., off piste). The 1866 "ski race" in Oslo was a combined cross-country, jumping and slalom competition. In the slalom participants were allowed use poles for braking and steering, and they were given points for style (appropriate skier posture). During the late 1800s Norwegian skiers participated in all branches (jumping, slalom, and cross-country) often with the same pair of skis. Slalom and variants of slalom were often referred to as hill races. Around 1900 hill races are abandoned in the Oslo championships at Huseby and Holmenkollen. Mathias Zdarsky's development of the Lilienfeld binding helped change hill races into a specialty of the Alps region.[3]

The rules for the modern slalom were developed by Arnold Lunn in 1922 for the British National Ski Championships, and adopted for alpine skiing at the 1936 Winter Olympics. Under these rules gates were marked by pairs of flags rather than single ones, were arranged so that the racers had to use a variety of turn lengths to negotiate them, and scoring was on the basis of time alone, rather than on both time and style.[4][5]


Example of a slalom course

A course is constructed by laying out a series of gates, formed by alternating pairs of red and blue poles. The skier must pass between the two poles forming the gate, with the tips of both skis and the skier's feet passing between the poles. A course has 55 to 75 gates for men and 40 to 60 for women. The vertical drop for a men's course is 180 to 220 m (591 to 722 ft) and measures slightly less for women.[6] The gates are arranged in a variety of configurations to challenge the competitor.

Because the offsets are relatively small in slalom, ski racers take a fairly direct line and often knock the poles out of the way as they pass, which is known as blocking. (The main blocking technique in modern slalom is cross-blocking, in which the skier takes such a tight line and angulates so strongly that he or she is able to block the gate with the outside hand.) Racers employ a variety of protective equipment, including shin pads, hand guards, helmets and face guards.

Clearing the gatesEdit

Traditionally, bamboo poles were used for gates, the rigidity of which forced skiers to maneuver their entire body around each gate.[7] In the early 1980s, rigid poles were replaced by hard plastic poles, hinged at the base. The hinged gates require, according to FIS rules, only that the skis and boots of the skier go around each gate.

The new gates allow a more direct path down a slalom course through the process of cross-blocking or shinning the gates.[8] Cross-blocking is a technique in which the legs go around the gate with the upper body inclined toward, or even across, the gate; in this case the racer's outside pole and shinguards hit the gate, knocking it down and out of the way. Cross-blocking is done by pushing the gate down with the arms, hands, or shins.[9] By 1989, most of the top technical skiers in the world had adopted the cross-block technique.[10]


Bottom: 2013 FIS legal slalom race skis, top: giant slalom race skis from 2006

With the innovation of shaped skis around the turn of the 21st century, equipment used for slalom in international competition changed drastically. World Cup skiers commonly skied on slalom skis at a length of 203–207 centimetres (79.9–81.5 in) in the 1980s and 1990s but by the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the majority of competitors were using skis measuring 160 cm (63.0 in) or less.

The downside of the shorter skis was that athletes found that recoveries were more difficult with a smaller platform underfoot. Out of concern for the safety of athletes, the FIS began to set minimum ski lengths for international slalom competition. The minimum was initially set at 155 cm (61.0 in) for men and 150 cm (59.1 in) for women, but was increased to 165 cm (65.0 in) for men and 155 cm (61.0 in) for women for the 2003–2004 season.

The equipment minimums and maximums imposed by the International Ski Federation (FIS) have created a backlash from skiers, suppliers, and fans. The main objection is that the federation is regressing the equipment, and hence the sport, by two decades.[11]

American Bode Miller hastened the shift to the shorter, more radical sidecut skis when he achieved unexpected success after becoming the first Junior Olympic athlete to adopt the equipment in giant slalom and super-G in 1996. A few years later, the technology was adapted to slalom skis as well.

Men's Slalom World Cup podiumsEdit

In the following table men's slalom World Cup podiums in the World Cup since first season in 1967.[12]

Season 1st 2nd 3rd
1967   Jean-Claude Killy   Guy Perillat   Heinrich Messner
1968   Dumeng Giovanoli   Jean-Claude Killy   Patrick Russel
1969   Alain Penz
  Alfred Matt
  Jean-Noel Augert
  Patrick Russel
1970   Alain Penz   Jean-Noël Augert
  Patrick Russel
1971   Jean-Noël Augert   Gustav Thöni   Tyler Palmer
1972   Jean-Noël Augert   Andrzej Bachleda   Roland Thöni
1973   Gustav Thöni   Christian Neureuther   Jean-Noël Augert
1974   Gustav Thöni   Christian Neureuther   Johann Kniewasser
1975   Ingemar Stenmark   Gustav Thöni   Piero Gros
1976   Ingemar Stenmark   Piero Gros   Gustav Thöni
  Hans Hinterseer
1977   Ingemar Stenmark   Klaus Heidegger   Paul Frommelt
1978   Ingemar Stenmark   Klaus Heidegger   Phil Mahre
1979   Ingemar Stenmark   Phil Mahre   Christian Neureuther
1980   Ingemar Stenmark   Bojan Križaj   Christian Neureuther
1981   Ingemar Stenmark   Phil Mahre   Bojan Križaj
  Steve Mahre
1982   Phil Mahre   Ingemar Stenmark   Steve Mahre
1983   Ingemar Stenmark   Stig Strand   Andreas Wenzel
1984   Marc Girardelli   Ingemar Stenmark   Franz Gruber
1985   Marc Girardelli   Paul Frommelt   Ingemar Stenmark
1986   Rok Petrovič   Bojan Križaj
  Ingemar Stenmark
  Paul Frommelt
1987   Bojan Križaj   Ingemar Stenmark   Armin Bittner
1988   Alberto Tomba   Günther Mader   Felix McGrath
1989   Armin Bittner   Alberto Tomba   Marc Girardelli
  Ole Kristian Furuseth
1990   Armin Bittner   Alberto Tomba
  Ole Kristian Furuseth
1991   Marc Girardelli   Ole Kristian Furuseth   Rudolf Nierlich
1992   Alberto Tomba   Paul Accola   Finn Christian Jagge
1993   Thomas Fogdö   Alberto Tomba   Thomas Stangassinger
1994   Alberto Tomba   Thomas Stangassinger   Jure Košir
1995   Alberto Tomba   Michael Tritscher   Jure Košir
1996   Sebastien Amiez   Alberto Tomba   Thomas Sykora
1997   Thomas Sykora   Thomas Stangassinger   Finn Christian Jagge
1998   Thomas Sykora   Thomas Stangassinger   Hans Petter Buraas
1999   Thomas Stangassinger   Jure Košir   Finn Christian Jagge
2000   Kjetil André Aamodt   Ole Kristian Furuseth   Matjaž Vrhovnik
2001   Benjamin Raich   Heinz Schilchegger   Mario Matt
2002   Ivica Kostelić   Bode Miller   Jean-Pierre Vidal
2003   Kalle Palander   Ivica Kostelić   Rainer Schönfelder
2004   Rainer Schönfelder   Kalle Palander   Benjamin Raich
2005   Benjamin Raich   Rainer Schönfelder   Manfred Pranger
2006   Giorgio Rocca   Kalle Palander   Benjamin Raich
2007   Benjamin Raich   Mario Matt   Jens Byggmark
2008   Manfred Mölgg   Jean-Baptiste Grange   Reinfried Herbst
2009   Jean-Baptiste Grange   Ivica Kostelić   Julien Lizeroux
2010   Reinfried Herbst   Julien Lizeroux   Silvan Zurbriggen
2011   Ivica Kostelić   Jean-Baptiste Grange   Andre Myhrer
2012   André Myhrer   Ivica Kostelić   Marcel Hirscher
2013   Marcel Hirscher   Felix Neureuther   Ivica Kostelić
2014   Marcel Hirscher   Felix Neureuther   Henrik Kristoffersen
2015   Marcel Hirscher   Felix Neureuther   Alexander Khoroshilov
2016   Henrik Kristoffersen   Marcel Hirscher   Felix Neureuther
2017   Marcel Hirscher   Henrik Kristoffersen   Manfred Mölgg
2018   Marcel Hirscher   Henrik Kristoffersen   André Myhrer
2019   Marcel Hirscher   Clément Noël   Daniel Yule
2020   Henrik Kristoffersen   Clément Noël   Daniel Yule
2021   Marco Schwarz   Clément Noël   Ramon Zenhäusern
2022   Henrik Kristoffersen   Manuel Feller   Atle Lie McGrath


  1. ^ Kunnskapsforlagets idrettsleksikon. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget, 1990, p.273.
  2. ^ NAHA // Norwegian-American Studies
  3. ^ Bergsland, E.: På ski. Oslo: Aschehoug, 1946, p.27.
  4. ^ Hussey, Elisabeth. "The Man Who Changed the Face of Alpine Skiing", Skiing Heritage, December 2005, p. 9.
  5. ^ Bergsland, Einar (1952). Skiing: a way of life in Norway. Oslo: Aschehoug.
  6. ^ Slade, Daryl (February 12, 1988). "Alpine evolution continues". Ocala (FL) Star-Banner. Universal Press Syndicate. p. 4E.
  7. ^ "Alpine skiing: Stenmark on slalom". Observer-Reporter. Washington, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. February 13, 1994. p. C7.
  8. ^ McMillan, Ian (February 28, 1984). "A new line in slalom poles". Glasgow Herald. p. 24.
  9. ^ Bell, Martin. "A matter of course". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  10. ^ Gurshman, Greg. "To Cross-Block or Not To Cross-Block?". Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Giant Slalom Racers Object to a Mandate on New Equipment". The New York Times. 22 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2022-01-01. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Winter Sports Chart - Alpine Skiing". Retrieved 11 February 2018.

External linksEdit