Anyone with an interest in winter sports will be well aware of the fact that the 24th Winter Olympic Games are now well underway in Beijing, with athletes from across the world descending on Beijing chasing top honours in a range of different disciplines.

One of the most popular events is the alpine skiing, which takes place at the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Centre around 55 miles from the capital city Beijing.

Opened back in 2019, the complex features a number of different courses including one of the steepest in the world with sections that feature inclines of 68 degrees - with a vertical drop or approximately 900 feet.

Given the fact that the area doesn’t feature much in the way of natural snowfall, the slopes are packed with artificial snow but it certainly doesn’t make the challenge any easier for those who taking part in the various competitions any easier.

Whilst ski experts may be familiar with the different elements of the alpine skiing, others may not be quite so sure about exactly what they are watching when they tune in on TV so here’s a handy guide as to what is going on…

As the name would suggest, the downhill event is the one that requires skiers to head from the top to the bottom of the course through a series of gates in the fastest time possible.

Speed is the off the essence here but you also need to be smooth as any time lost in the turns will be vital in deciding who emerges with the gold medal.

When it comes to the downhill competition, there is no margin for error as one run will determine who is victorious.

Again, the name gives away what the slalom is all about, with skiers taking on the challenge of as shorter and more technical course through a series of gates that are positioned much closer together.

Each skier has two runs down the course which are then added together.

Giant Slalom
The giant slalom follows a similar pattern to the slalom but is just a little bit 'bigger' - taking place along a course that a similar number of gates but spread across a wider area.

Again, there are two runs down the course for each competitor.

Super-G - or super giant slalom - takes the disciplines of downhill skiing and slalom skiing and combines the two.

Very much a speed event, super-G runs on the same course as the downhill event - albeit usually with a lower starting point on the slope - but features a larger number of gates that skiers have to pass through as they work their way to the bottom.

As with the downhill event, it all comes down to a single timed run to determine the winner.

The combined event sees skiers tackle both a downhill and slalom course, with the times from the two added together to decide the winner. Both closes tend to be slightly different to those seen in the individual races.


Alongside the alpine skiing, there are a number of freestyle events that take place where the focus is less on speed and more on style and technical skills.

Moguls for example require skiers to travel down a short, steep slope featuring a number of large bumps (the moguls) which require the use of various technical turns in order to get to the bottom in the quickest time possible.

Although time is a factor, skiers are scored on the quality of their turns and also of jumps completed on their way down the course.

Aerial skiing is all about the quality of a jump performed after being launched over a special ramp, whilst half-pipe skiing is again judged on technical performance and jumps that take place within a large pipe.

Ski cross meanwhile incorporates various elements of freestyle skiing with big air jumps and banked turns, but sees more than one skier on course at a time.

Away from the slopes and freestyle areas, a range of cross-country skiing events running up to 50km for men and 30km for women provide an altogether different kind of challenge, where stamina is the key factor in deciding who grabs the gold medal.