Australia and Olympic Alpine Skiing
Zali Steggall created history at the Nagano Games in 1998 when she won Australia’s first individual Winter Olympic medal, a bronze in the slalom. Steggall finished her career after Salt Lake 2002 as a four-time Olympian.
Australia has been represented by 40 alpine skiers at the Winter Olympics with the first being at the 1952 Oslo Winter Games.
In Vancouver 2010, two male Australian alpine skiers competed. For Jono Brauer, it was his second Games and for Craig Branch, his third.
Australia was represented by five Olympic debutants in Alpine skiing at Sochi 2014. At just 18, Greta Small lined up in all five events including Australia’s best result in Alpine competition in Sochi with a 15th place finish in the Super Combined. Small returned for her second Games at PyeongChang 2018, recording Australia’s best ever women’s Downhill result with 20th place. She also finished 31st in the Super-G but unfortunately recorded a DNF in the Combined Downhill. Her fellow Sochi teammate Dominic Demschar improved on his 39th place Giant Slalom result at PyeongChang, finishing 33rd.
At an IOC congress in 1910 the idea of forming an international ski federation was discussed and the Commission Internationale de Ski emerged to help guide the sport over the next fourteen years. In 1914 a proposal for the inclusion of ski events in the Olympics Games was put forward, however no approval was given.
Skiing featured as a demonstration sport at the Chamonix 1924 Games however the debate over the sport’s Olympic inclusion still raged. Both Norway and Finland voted against the inclusion of Olympic skiing as they thought it might detract from their own well-established international competitions.
Despite its status as one of the blue riband events of the Winter Olympics, it was not until 1936 at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games that alpine skiing made its debut when the combined (downhill and slalom) events for both men and women were held. This event was dropped eight years later and only reappeared at Calgary 1988 alongside the inaugural inclusion of the Super G.
Slalom and downhill were added at the1948 St Moritz Games and the first giant slalom competition was held in 1952.
Alpine skiing involves all skiing events which occur on a downhill course and do not involve ramps or awkward bumps. The Olympic alpine competition consists of ten events: five for women and five for men. The rules are the same for all but the courses differ. Alpine racing is a beat the clock format in which a skier goes down the mountain from Point A to Point B and the fastest time wins. There is no judging involved and races are timed in hundredths of a second.
There are two 'technical' events - the slalom and the giant slalom - two 'speed' events - the downhill and super-G and one combined event.
Downhill it features the longest and least winding alpine course and is marked by red flags. Each skier makes a single run down a single course and the fastest time determines the winner.
Slalom demands the sharpest turns of the alpine events and is contested on the shortest course. A skier must pass through a set number of gates which mark the course or is disqualified from the event. Each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. Both runs take place on the same day. The times are added and the fastest total time determines the winner.
Giant Slalom is a longer, faster version of the slalom and does not involve a set minimum of bends. The course is marked by alternating red and blue flags as gate markers. As in the slalom, each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. Both runs take place on the same day.The times are added, and the fastest total time determines the winner.