Alpine Skiing – ‘The Giant Slalom’

The Giant Slalom is also known as the GS.  The GS is similar to the slalom, but with fewer, wider, and smoother turns since ski speed is higher in the GS. The course should test the skier’s ability to react and adapt to an ever-changing rhythm and radius, but allow the competitors smooth transition between the various sections of gates.

In Giant Slalom, as well as in the Downhill  and Super-G, skiers normally start at regular intervals of 60 seconds. However the minimum start interval is 30 seconds in the GS while in the Super-G and  Downhill is 40 seconds.

He have described the Super-G and the Downhill in previous posts that you can check below:

Alpine Skiing – ‘The Amazing Super-G’

Alpine Skiing – ‘The Downhill’

Unlike the Super-G and Downhill where only one run determines the winner, in the GS 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.

Both in GS and Super-G gates must be alternately red and blue . However, while in the GS gates must be at least 4 m and at most 8 m wide and the distance between the nearest poles of two successive gates must not be less than 10 metres, in Super-G gates must be at least 6 m and at most 8 m wide for open gates and at least 8 m and at most 12 m for vertical gates. In the Super-G distance between the turning poles of two successive gates must be at least 25 m.

Differently from GS, in Downhill and in Super-G the course must be marked using:

– twigs stuck in the snow on the inside and/or outside of the racing line before and after the gate and/or;

– small pine needles or similar material spread on the course and/or;

– coloured dye used vertically from gate to gate as well as horizontally, across the course or the inside and/or outside of the racing line before and after the gate, notably on the approaches indicating changes in terrain and jumps.

While in downhill and Super-G the use of a helmet is mandatory, is GS that is not the case, but skiers often worn one as well as in slalom. Unlike the downhill and Super-G, in GS and in the slalom, poles are straight and often have plastic guards covering the knuckles to help skiers knock the slalom poles out of their path. GS skis are shorter than Super-G and downhill skis, and longer than slalom skis.

The GS became a World Championships event in 1950 (USA, Aspen, Colorado). The first Winter olympics event of GS was held in Norway (Oslo) in 1952. The GS has been run in every world championships and Olympics since. Alberto  of Italy is the only skier to have won twice (and consecutively, 1988, 1992) the gold in the Olympics. Curiously, the first GS course was established on Italy’s Dolomite mountains in 1935.

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