A Basic Guide To Slalom Skiing

Looking for a good winter sport to spice up your holiday? Sure, while you can always opt to turn to the nearest skating rink and let your body glide gracefully on top of the frozen ground, it’s never a bad idea to try something new and collect brand-new memories this winter season.

Slalom Skiing, for instance, is a worthy winter sport you should consider giving a try. Identified as a type of skiing, slalom stands as one of the original Alpine events introduced by none other than the British skier, Sir Arnold Lunn.


To give you a brief background about this sport, we have collected all the necessary details to help you understand how exactly it works. In this article, you will discover why you should not miss out on trying it yourself! Continue reading to learn more.

Guide to Slalom Skiing
Image credit SB Nation

What Is Slalom Skiing?

Basically, Slalom Skiing is a variant of the classic alpine skiing. However, what makes it unique is that the sport involves skiing through several poles called gates.

Skiers are to compete in a course that consists of a series of blue and red gates that are positioned in alternating combinations, with each gate measuring at least 30 inches wide and 13 feet apart.


Typically, for Olympic and world championship events, slalom skiing for men involves 55 to 75 gates, while slalom skiing for women consists of 40 to 60 gates. As part of the general rules, the men’s course must also have a vertical descent of 590 to 722 feet, while the women’s course must have a descent of 426 to 590 feet.

The objective of the players is to go through the series of gates, with the tip of both their skis passing through the poles. When a skier misses a gate, he or she will immediately be disqualified from the game. Whoever finishes the course the fastest will be declared the winner.

What Are The Two Types Of Slalom Skiing?

Generally, there are two types of slalom skiing: slalom and the giant slalom.


Although both follow the same rule of having the players navigate through a series of gates, the gates that are used in giant slalom are fewer and are spaced further apart than in traditional slalom.

This makes giant slalom the better choice for beginners as it does not necessitate quick, angular turns from players. Alternatively, slalom requires extremely fast, neat, and precise turns to ensure victory in the race.

What Type Of Equipment Do You Need?

Since its inception in 1922, the types of equipment used for slalom and giant slalom skiing has evolved tremendously.

Specifically, in the 1980s to 1990s, the length of the skis used during competitions ranged from 203 to 209 centimeters. However, by 2002, the majority of the competitors during the Olympic Winter Games had decided to ditch the traditional length to go for shorter skis measuring 160 centimeters or less.

In reaction to this, the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FSI) decided to set a minimum length for skis for international slalom competitions; 155 cm for men and 150 cm for women. Years later, these measurements increased and became 165 cm for men and 155 cm for women.

To date, as courses became more challenging and narrower, especially in slalom, skiers are advised to use shorter skis to ensure optimal control at high speed and avoid the possibility of getting caught on the gates. In professional events, slalom skiers are now allowed to use skis that are about 20 centimeters shorter.

What Could You Get From Slalom Skiing?

As a sport, slalom skiing promises a ton of perks and benefits to participants. Among these include the following.

  • Weight loss – Since skiing is a form of strenuous activity, practicing it will help burn calories, which can lead to weight loss.

  • Strengthens lower body muscles – When it comes to skiing, you must learn to endure tension and weight while turning and moving quickly downhill to complete the race. With continuous practice, this will eventually help build stronger body muscles.

  • Boosts your mood – In addition to improving your physical health, skiing also helps elevate your mood by generating “feel good” chemicals in your brain, specifically endorphins and adrenalin.

The Bottom Line

Ready to give slalom skiing a try? Bring out the skis and welcome the outdoors with this fun and thrilling winter sport that is sure to make your winter season even more spectacular. Experience slalom skiing today!