Olympic skiing events have been mainstays at the modern Winter Olympic Games since their inception. Olympic snowboarding, on the other hand, is quite a bit newer. Together, both sports make up some of the most recognizable events—and often boast some of the most recognizable names.
Skiing events have been part of the Olympics since the Chamonix Games in France in 1924, and new disciplines have been added over the years. Snowboarding—which is technically considered a discipline of skiing, according to the International Ski Federation—wasn’t added to the Olympic program until 1998, making it one of the newer events.
There are several different modalities for skiing and snowboarding, meaning there’s pretty much an event for every type of Winter Olympics fan: Some competitions require stamina and endurance, while others emphasize the power, agility, and strength to execute jumps, flips, and twists.
There are quite literally dozens of Olympic skiing events and snowboarding competitions—some of which actually began on February 3, ahead of the opening ceremonies. Here’s everything you need to know so you can follow along at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
How many skiing events are at the Olympics?
There are five different skiing disciplines at the Olympics, each featuring several different events. Alpine skiing, which is also known as downhill skiing, is broken up into speed events (downhill and super-G) and technical events (slalom and giant slalom), which are called such due to the turns on the course. Then there’s mixed team parallel slalom, in which teams of two men and two women compete against another four-person team head-to-head in a slalom race.
In cross-country skiing, athletes use skis and poles to propel through a mostly flat course of various distances. For women, the cross-country ski events include sprint, team sprint, 10K individual start, 7.5K + 7.5K skiathlon (a combination of freestyle and classic style skiing), 30K mass start, and 4 x 5K relay. The skiathlon, for those wondering, is a combination of freestyle and classic style skiing. In freestyle, athletes move their skis in a forward motion, while in freestyle, they use a side-to-side motion for more speed.
Another Olympic skiing event is ski jumping, an event in which athletes ski down a takeoff ramp and jump, with the goal of covering as much distance as possible before landing. Points are awarded for jump length and style. For women, there’s individual normal hill and the mixed team event.
Then comes Nordic combined—a unique combination of ski jumping and cross-country skiing—which is only contested by the men at the Winter Olympics.
Finally, there’s freestyle skiing, which rose in popularity in the 1960s as skiers started to incorporate tricks and jumps into their runs, aided by advances in ski equipment. Freestyle skiing includes aerials (athletes perform acrobatic twists and flips in the air) and mixed team aerials (teams of three skiers perform aerial tricks), moguls (skiers navigate a sloped course covered with mounds of snow called moguls, and are judged on turns, speed, and air), halfpipe (where they perform jumps and turns in a U-shaped course with 22-foot walls), slopestyle (athletes execute tricks on a course with obstacles), big air (skiers perform tricks off a 60-foot ramp), and ski cross (four skiers race down a course amid jumps, banks, and rollers).
How do you win at Olympic skiing?
How you win in Olympic skiing depends on the ski discipline. In alpine skiing, athletes compete against the clock for the fastest time of the day. In the downhill and super-G, athletes get just one run to record a time. The technical events of giant slalom and slalom consist of two runs, which are added together for the skier’s overall time. In mixed team parallel slalom, skiers earn points by finishing first on the run, or lose points for missing a gate or falling; the country with the most points wins. In case of a tie, the team with the best aggregate time wins.