What is Alpine Skiing?
Alpine racing is a sport competing for time skiing down varied slopes where the course is designed by the gates placed in varying combinations. Events are divided depending on the length of the course, number of turns, speed, etc. and currently there are four types, Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, and Slalom. Downhill and Super-G are known as speed events, competing for speed in a single run, and Giant Slalom and Slalom are known as technical events, competing for speed in which the total of two runs are determined.
There are also two types, alpine combined, in which the total time on Downhill or Super-G, and Slalom are added, and parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom, in which two skiers compete head to head on parallel identical slalom courses, but basically consists of four events as mentioned above.
At the Alpine Skiing World Cup 2020 Niigata Yuzawa Naeba, Men’s Giant Slalom and Slalom will be held.
Within the four events, slalom has the shortest course with the most turns. Therefore, the length of the skis used are the shortest, 165cm or more according to the FIS rule. Also, the course is designed with an elevation difference of 180-220m, and the number of turns, 30-35% of the elevation difference ±3 turns. In Niigata Yuzawa Naeba Competition, the elevation difference of the slalom course is 200m, and so the race should be required 57-73 turns. This will very much look like a forest made from poles. Racers will need to aim the goal making very tight and rhythmical turns, with about 0.8 sec per turn. In other words, slalom is a very technical event in which exercise skills such as instantaneous speed, reflex and rhythm are tested. Racers from Japan have always been the best at this event. Tetsuya Okabe, Kiminobu Kimura, Akira Sasaki, and Naoki Yuasa have won medals from the Olympics which are all from the Men’s slalom. They are particularly good at slalom because for this race, dexterity and sophistication is needed which fit the characteristics of Japanese people.
On the other hand, the recent slalom is called one kind of martial arts. This is because the racers skiing between the poles look like they are punching the poles and knocking them down. The impact of knocking down the poles is large, which gives advantage to racers with a large physique. In the past, slalom was said to be favored by small and agile racers, but at the present, racers with a large physique is said to have advantage at slalom amongst the four events. For the first seed, Ramon Zenhuizen(Swizerland) 2 meters tall lead the race following other large racers. Watching them skiing down the course is very exciting. Please experience this excitement right at the venue.
Giant Slalom(GS) is most easy to understand within the four events of the alpine competition(Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom). At the same time, GS is most profound, a very difficult sports but very exciting to race.
Ranking is determined from the total time, skiing the course twice within the required 1min. to 1min. 20sec. The average speed is about 60-80km/h. The other day, Ted Ligety(US) posted a video of himself training for GS in Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/p/B43HB8Hp-4s/), which his average speed was 35-45 miles(56kim-72km)/h. His top speed appeared to be 52 miles/h, meaning that there should be moments passing over 80km/h. Repeating 40 to 60 turns at such high speed competing for 1/100 sec is physically demanding.
According to the rules of the International Ski Federation(FIS), the men’s GS in World Cup, World Championships, and Olympics have an elevation difference of 300-450m, and the number of turns will be 11-15% of the elevation difference. Also, the length of the skis must be 193cm or more and the radius(radius of the side curve) 30m or more.
Unfortunately, Japanese Athletes are the weakest in GS. After the current system starting from 1991/92 season of the Men’s GS World Cup, Akira Sasaki is the only Japanese who was able to win the World Cup point(within 30th place) who was 24th in Sölden(Austria) in the 2003/04 season. In the 2015/16 season at Val d’Isère(France), Tomoya Ishii was close to becoming the second Japanese to be on record, but missed the chance to earn points in less than a hundredth of a second.
As for the Women’s GS World Cup, several athletes have already earned the World Cup points, and so we believe the Male athletes should also have the chance. For this Competition, we look forward for a best performance in our Local Naeba.