Everything you need to know about the Alpine skiing competition at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, including athletes to watch, venue information, and more!
Alpine skiing (sometimes referred to as downhill skiing) is one of the signature competitions at the Winter Olympics. Competitors regularly reach speeds of up to 152 km/h (95 mph), all while navigating a winding course full of sharp turns and soaring jumps.
There are 11 events in the Alpine competition at the Games, with 33 medals up for grabs; but who will be the favourites to win them?
Top Olympic skiers at Beijing 2022 Alpine skiing
Alpine skiing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the Winter Olympic programme, which is arguably reflected in the fact that in the entire history of Alpine skiing at the Winter Games, only five athletes have successfully defended their Olympic crowns across all events in the competition.
So if history is any indicator, we should be seeing plenty of new champions (and first-time medalists) on the Alpine podiums in Beijing. Of course, that doesn’t mean the established stars and veterans of the sport should be overlooked – far from it.
One of the biggest names to look out for in Beijing is Mikaela Shiffrin (USA). The two-time Olympic gold medalist won four medals at the 2021 World Championships (including gold in Alpine combined) to add to her already historic career CV in the sport, which includes three Overall World Cup championships, four world championships in slalom, and the achievement of being the only skier in history with wins in all six FIS Alpine Ski World Cup disciplines.
Shiffrin competed in the giant slalom (gold), slalom and combined (silver) events at the 2018 Winter Olympics, and will be the favourite to medal in all three of these events in Beijing.
PyeongChang super-G winner Ester Ledecká (CZE) – who also won gold in the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding in 2018 – finished fourth in the event at the ’21 World Championships. Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) won gold in that event and the giant slalom, putting herself among the top names to watch for both events in Beijing.
Michelle Gisin (SUI), who won gold in the combined event in PyeongChang, appears to be in strong form after finishing third at the World Championships, while it will be interesting to see if Sofia Goggia (ITA) can defend her Olympic crown in the downhill with Gut-Behrami and ’21 World Champion Corinne Suter (SUI) seemingly poised to challenge the Italian for the gold medal in Beijing.
Double Olympic champion Marcel Hirscher (AUT) retired from the sport in 2019, meaning he won’t be in Beijing to defend his crowns in the men’s giant slalom and combined. Mathieu Faivre (FRA), who won gold in the former as well as in the parallel giant slalom (a non-Winter Olympic event), could be the man to win the event in what would be his third Winter Games, though Alexis Pinturault (FRA), who won silver and bronze in the combined and giant slalom events respectively in PyeongChang, could prove to be a fierce opponent.
Other names to look out for in the men’s competition include Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) (the reigning world champion in super-G and downhill), Matthias Mayer (AUT) (Winter Olympic gold medalist in the super-G (2018) and downhill (2014)), and five-time Winter Olympic medalist and 2019 downhill world champion Kjetil Jansrud (NOR).
Olympic Alpine skiing schedule at Beijing 2022
The Alpine competition will take place from 6 February – 19 February 2022.
Olympic Alpine skiing venue at Beijing 2022
The Alpine competition will take place at the National Alpine Ski Centre in the Yanqing competition zone.
Following the Games, the venue will be used for national team training and international sports events.
Olympic Alpine skiing competition format at Beijing 2022
The Alpine competition at Beijing 2022 will feature 11 events.
- Men & Women
- Giant Slalom
- Alpine Combined
- Mixed Team
Competitors get one run to post their fastest time in the downhill and super-G events, while the slalom and giant slalom competitions take place over two courses. Competitors who do not finish or are disqualified from their run on the first course do not advance to the second course. The cumulative time from an athlete’s runs on both courses is used to determine the winner of the events. In the Alpine combined, skiers participate in one run of downhill and one run of slalom on different courses from those used in the downhill and slalom competitions. Like the slalom and giant slalom, only competitors who complete a successful run on the downhill portion advance to the slalom run. The times of the two runs are combined to determine final placements.
In the mixed team event, teams are comprised of two men and two women representing the same nation. Two teams compete against each other in a parallel slalom race, with two skiers racing one another on the same course simultaneously, side-by-side. In this event whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner, meaning the team that wins three races advances to the next round of the competition. In the event that both teams win two races, the team with the lowest combined time of their fastest male and female athlete is the winner.
Olympic Alpine skiing history
Skiing has an ancient history, and can be traced to prehistoric times by the discovery of varying sizes and shapes of wooden planks preserved in peat bogs in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Ski fragments discovered in Russia have been carbon-dated back to circa 8000-7000 BC. It is virtually certain that a form of skiing has been an integral part of life in colder countries for thousands of years.
The birth of modern downhill skiing is often dated to the 1850s when Norwegian legend Sondre Norheim popularised skis with curved sides, bindings with stiff heel bands made of willow, as well as the Telemark and Christiania (slalom) turns.
Men’s and women’s Alpine skiing both debuted on the Olympic programme in 1936 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The only event that year was a combined competition of both downhill and slalom. In 1948, this was held along with separate downhill and slalom races. Four years later the giant slalom was added and in 1988 the super giant slalom became a fourth separate event. In 2018, the mixed team event became the latest addition to the Winter Olympic Alpine competition.
It’s not an understatement to say that Austria has thoroughly dominated Alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics, winning 121 medals – 55 more medals than their closest challenger, Switzerland (who oddly enough have 22 medals each in all three categories).
Kjetil André Aamodt (NOR) is the most decorated Winter Olympic Alpine skier in history with eight medals, including four golds. Janica Kostelić (CRO) is the most successful female skier in the competition with six medals, four of which are gold. Both Aamodt and Kostelić are the only athletes to have won four gold medals in Alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics.
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