Skiing is the use of skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Skiing has a history of almost five millennia.Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, it may have been practiced more than 100 centuries ago in what is now China, according to an interpretation of ancient paintings. However, this continues to be debated.
The word "ski" comes from the Old Norse word "skíð" which means to "split piece of wood or firewood".
Asymmetrical skis were used in northern Finland and Sweden until at least the late 19th century. On one foot, the skier wore a long straight non-arching ski for sliding, and a shorter ski was worn on the other foot for kicking. The underside of the short ski was either plain or covered with animal skin to aid this use, while the long ski supporting the weight of the skier was treated with animal fat in a similar manner to modern ski waxing.
Early skiers used one long pole or spear. The first description of a skier with two ski poles dates to 1741.
Troops in continental Europe were equipped with skis by 1747.
Skiing was primarily used for transport until the mid-19th century. But, since then it has also become a recreation and sport.Military ski races were held in Norway during the 18th century, and ski warfare was studied in the late 18th century. As equipment evolved and ski lifts were developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two main genres of skiing emerged—Alpine (downhill) skiing and Nordic skiing. The main difference between the two is the type of ski binding (the way in which the ski boots are attached to the skis).
Also called "downhill skiing", Alpine skiing typically takes place on a piste at a ski resort. It is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot. Ski lifts, including chairlifts, bring skiers up the slope. Backcountry skiing can be accessed by helicopter, snowcat, hiking and snowmobile. Facilities at resorts can include night skiing, après-ski, and glade skiing under the supervision of the ski patrol and the ski school. Alpine skiing branched off from the older Nordic type of skiing around the 1920s when the advent of ski lifts meant that it was no longer necessary to climb back uphill. Alpine equipment has specialized to the point where it can now only be used with the help of lifts. Alpine Touring setups use specialized bindings which are switchable between locked and free-heel modes. Climbing skins are temporarily attached to the bottom of alpine skis to give them traction on snow. This permits Nordic style uphill and back-country travel on alpine skis. For downhill, travel the heels are locked and the skins are removed.
The Nordic disciplines include cross-country skiing and ski jumping, which both use bindings that attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Cross-country skiing may be practiced on groomed trails or in undeveloped backcountry areas. Ski jumping is practiced in certain areas that are reserved exclusively for ski jumping.
Telemark skiing is a ski turning technique and FIS-sanctioned discipline, which is named after the Telemark region of Norway. It uses equipment similar to Nordic skiing, where the ski bindings are attached only at the toes of the ski boots, allowing the skier's heel to be raised throughout the turn. However, the skis themselves are often the same width as Alpine skis.
The following disciplines are sanctioned by the FIS. Many have their own world cups and are included in the Winter Olympic Games.
Equipment used in skiing includes:
Technique has evolved along with ski technology and ski geometry. Early techniques included the telemark turn, the stem, the stem Christie, snowplough, and parallel turn.
New parabolic designs like the Elan SCX have enabled the more modern carve turn.
Originally and primarily a winter sport, skiing can also be practiced indoors without snow, outdoors on grass, on dry ski slopes, with ski simulators, or with roller skis. A treadmill-like surface can also be used, to enable skiing while staying in the same place. Sand skiing involves sliding on sand instead of snow, but the skier uses conventional skis, ski poles, bindings and boots for the surface.
Cross-country skiing is a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, rather than using ski lifts or other forms of assistance. Cross-country skiing is widely practiced as a sport and recreational activity; however, some still use it as a means of transportation. Variants of cross-country skiing are adapted to a range of terrain which spans unimproved, sometimes mountainous terrain to groomed courses that are specifically designed for the sport.
Slalom is an alpine skiing and alpine snowboarding discipline, involving skiing between poles or gates. These are spaced more closely than those in giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill, necessitating quicker and shorter turns. Internationally, the sport is contested at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and at the Olympic Winter Games.
Winter sports or winter activities are competitive sports or non-competitive recreational activities which are played on snow or ice. Most are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally, such games were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and artificial ice allow more flexibility. Playing areas and fields consist of either snow or ice.
Snowboarding is a recreational and competitive activity that involves descending a snow-covered surface while standing on a snowboard that is almost always attached to a rider's feet. It features in the Winter Olympic Games and Winter Paralympic Games.
Alpine skiing, or downhill skiing, is the pastime of sliding down snow-covered slopes on skis with fixed-heel bindings, unlike other types of skiing, which use skis with free-heel bindings. Whether for recreation or for sport, it is typically practiced at ski resorts, which provide such services as ski lifts, artificial snow making, snow grooming, restaurants, and ski patrol.
Nordic combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in cross-country skiing and ski jumping. The Nordic combined at the Winter Olympics has been held since the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924, while the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup has been held since 1983. Many Nordic combined competitions use the Gundersen method, where placement in the ski jumping segment results in time (dis)advantages added to the contestant's total in the cross-country skiing segment.
Skiing, or traveling over snow on skis, has a history of at least eight millennia. The earliest archaeological examples of skis were found in Russia and date to 6000 BCE. Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, 5000-year-old wall paintings suggest use of skis in the Xinjiang region of what is now China; however, this continues to be debated. Originally purely utilitarian, starting in the mid-1800s skiing became a popular recreational activity and sport, becoming practiced in snow-covered regions worldwide, and providing a market for the development of ski resorts and their related communities.
Nordic skiing encompasses the various types of skiing in which the toe of the ski boot is fixed to the binding in a manner that allows the heel to rise off the ski, unlike alpine skiing, where the boot is attached to the ski from toe to heel. Recreational disciplines include cross-country skiing and Telemark skiing.
Telemark skiing is a skiing technique that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing, using a squatting motion on downhill skis. Telemark skiing is named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the discipline originated. Sondre Norheim is often credited for first demonstrating the turn in ski races, which included cross country, slalom, and jumping, in Norway around 1868. Sondre Norheim also experimented with ski and binding design, introducing side cuts to skis and heel bindings.
The Fédération internationale de ski et de snowboard is the highest international governing body for skiing and snowboarding. Founded on 2 February 1924 in Chamonix, France during the inaugural Winter Olympic Games, the FIS is responsible for the Olympic disciplines of Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding. The FIS is also responsible for setting the international competition rules. The organization has a membership of 132 national ski associations, and is based in Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland. It changed its name to include snowboard in 2022.
A ski binding is a device that connects a ski boot to the ski. Before the 1933 invention of ski lifts, skiers went uphill and down and cross-country on the same gear. As ski lifts became more prevalent, skis—and their bindings—became increasingly specialized, differentiated between alpine (downhill) and Nordic styles of skiing. Until the point of divergence in the mid-20th century, bindings held the toe of a flexible, leather boot against the ski and allowed the heel to rise off the ski, typically with a form of strap or cable around the heel.
Ski boots are footwear used in skiing to provide a way to attach the skier to skis using ski bindings. The ski/boot/binding combination is used to effectively transmit control inputs from the skier's legs to the snow.
Alpine Canada is the national governing body for alpine ski racing, para-alpine and ski cross in Canada. Alpine Canada represents coaches, officials, supporters and athletes, including the racers of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, Canadian Ski Cross Team and the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team. Alpine Canada is also involved in promoting participation within Canada's four million recreational skiers.
The U.S. Ski Team, operating under the auspices of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, develops and supports men's and women's athletes in the sports of alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, cross-country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined. Since 1974 the team and association have been headquartered in Park City, Utah.
The FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships is the world championship organized by the FIS for freestyle skiing. It was first organized in 1986 and is now held every odd year. Currently, the events included in the world championships are Moguls, Dual Moguls, Aerials, Ski cross, Slopestyle and Half-pipe. Formerly, Acroski and a combined event were held.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to skiing:
LW5/7 is a standing para-Alpine and para-Nordic skiing classification for skiers with upper extremity issues in both limbs that may include double amputation of both arms and hands or dysmelia of the upper limbs. The class has three subclasses defined by the location of the disability on the upper extremities. International classification is done by IPC Alpine Skiing and IPC Nordic Skiing. On the national level, classification is handled by national sports federation such as Cross-Country Canada.
Ester Ledecká is a Czech snowboarder and alpine skier. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Ledecká won gold medals in the super-G in alpine skiing and in the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding, becoming the first person to not only compete in the Winter Olympics using two different types of equipment but further to win two gold medals and do so at the same Winter Olympics. She was the second woman to win Olympic gold in two separate disciplines but the first to do so at the same Winter Olympics. She was the first Czech to win the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding at the FIS Snowboard World Cup.
Competitive cross-country skiing encompasses a variety of race formats and course lengths. Rules of cross-country skiing are sanctioned by the International Ski Federation and by various national organizations. International competitions include the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, the FIS Cross-Country World Cup, and at the Winter Olympic Games. Such races occur over homologated, groomed courses designed to support classic (in-track) and freestyle events, where the skiers may employ skate skiing. It also encompasses cross-country ski marathon events, sanctioned by the Worldloppet Ski Federation, and cross-country ski orienteering events, sanctioned by the International Orienteering Federation. Related forms of competition are biathlon, where competitors race on cross-country skis and stop to shoot at targets with rifles, and paralympic cross-country skiing that allows athletes with disabilities to compete at cross-country skiing with adaptive equipment.
This glossary of skiing and snowboarding terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon used in skiing, snowboarding, and related winter sports.