(Reuters) – Focus on Alpine Skiing at the 2022 Beijing Olympics:
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
* Alpine skiing refers to disciplines that involve an athlete skiing down a mountain, rather than skiing across fairly flat terrain or performing aerial jumps.
* Skiers must navigate coloured gates spread across the mountain slope in controlled zigzag motions as fast as possible, reaching speeds of around 150 km/h.
* The sport has five disciplines for men and women: Downhill, Super-G, Slalom, Giant Slalom and Alpine Combined. In the Mixed event, two men and two women form teams.
HOW MANY MEDALS? There are 11 gold medals and 33 medals in total up for grabs.
WHAT HAPPENED IN PYEONGCHANG?
Austrian ski ace Marcel Hirscher won three gold medals at the Games in South Korea and U.S. powerhouse Lindsey Vonn won her last Olympic medal. Both retired from competing a year later.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN BEIJING? U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin is one to watch – she has two Olympic gold medals and claimed her 47th World Cup women’s slalom victory this month, breaking the record for most race wins in a single discipline that she had shared with Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
The mixed men’s/women’s team event has featured at the Winter Games only since 2018.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING? Feb. 6-Feb. 19.
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?
Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre, 75 km northwest of Beijing.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Ancient fragments of skis dating back thousands of years have been found in Russia. Alpine skiing became an Olympic sport in 1936 after the first competitive events were held in the second half of the 19th century.
WELL FANCY THAT
Alpine skiing’s popularity exploded in the late 1960s, with three-times Olympic gold medallist Jean-Claude Killy of France becoming the sport’s first truly global superstar.
James Bond made his first appearance on skis in 1969’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, a year after Killy won three alpine events at the 1968 Winter Games.
Skiing is the fastest non-motorised form of transport. Italian Ivan Origone holds the men’s speed skiing world record, which he set at 254.958 km/h in 2016.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Simon Jennings; Editing by Ken Ferris)