|sport and technique of traversing snow-covered surfaces with the feet attached too long, narrow runners known as skis. The skis distribute the wearer\\\'s weight over a larger area, thus preventing the skier from sinking into the snow. Three kinds of skiing down steep slopes; in races, victory is decided by elapsed time. Nordic, or cross-country, skiing, is movement over relatively level surfaces; racing involves covering short and long, undulating, pre-arranged courses in the shortest time. An important subcategory of Nordic ski races is ski jumping, movement down a vertical surface (called a ski jump) culminating in flight, the distance jumped and the skier\\\'s form are evaluated. Since the 1980\\\'s freestyle skiing, for fun and in competition, has become popular.|
The basic equipment, although it varies somewhat, is essentially similar for all types of skiing. Skis are made of strips of shaped wood, metal, or synthetic material that can be attached to a specially designed ski boot, the hard resistant surface of the skis, maintained by application of special ski waxes, produces high speed in moving over packed snow. Skis vary in length according to the skiers height and can reach 1.8 to 2.1 m (6-7ft) long. Ski width also varies, from 7-10cm (3-4 in) in the front, tapering slightly inward in the middle and widening at the rear, the front tip of the ski curves upward. Downhill skis are shorter and wider than cross-country skis. Flat-soled, generally ankle-high boots are an important item of equipment, rigid leaather and plastic boots are used for downhill skiing and lighter, more flexible boots, with nylon or leather uppers, for cross-country. The downhill boot is attached to the ski by a binding that clips at the heel and toe and affords flexibility and safety in the event of a fall. The cross-country boot attaches to the ski by a toe binding, leaving the heel free to flex up and down for the kick-off step. Ski poles, commonly 1.2 to 1.5 m (4-5ft) in length, are used for balance and to facilitate movement, they are made of light metal tubing, with handgrips and straps and a small disk at the bottom that allows a firm hold in the snow.
In one type of race, generally referred to simply as downhill racing, the object is to move down a sharply descending slope in the fastast possible time in essentially a straight line, this rquires balance and co-ordination of the arms and legs, because speeds of more than 129 km/hr (more than 80 mph) are sometimes achieved. The skier is held to the packed and prepared course by a series of gates, made up of poles with marker flags, placed in pairs, through which the racer must pass, these gates vary in width and placement. Knocking down a pole does not matter provided the racer has passed through the gate.
A second type of downhill racing is the salom (Norwegian for \\\"sloping track\\\"). Although this, too, is essentially a downhill course, it involves a zigzagging movement down and across the surface of the slope. The average length of a slalom course is about 536 m (about 1760ft) with a drop of 140 to 200m (460 to 655ft). The skier must maneuver throug 45 to 75 gates. A slalom race is run consecutively over two different coures, the fastest combined time for the two runs establishes the winner. Quickness and agility are important, because a variety of irregular surfaces are encountered.
A third type of downhill racing is called the giant salom, to distinguish it from \\\'special\\\' salom racing. It has been introduced into international skiing largely since World War II ended in 1945 and differs primarily in the scale of the course, which is usually 1.6km (1 mi) in length, dropping about 300-400 m (about 985-1310ft) overall. (Women\\\'s giant salom courses are somewhat shorter). The race has two runs, with the best combined time for covering both runs determining the winner.
In 1983 the super giant salom, a combination of downhill and giant salom, was introduced into international skiing. Long, sweeping, high-speed turns make this event popular with spectators. The winner is decided in one run.
Cross-country (Nordic) skiing places greater emphasis on endurance and strenght, with less of an emphasis on speed. Netherless, in competitions, the average time for a 15-km (9mi) race is about 50 minutes, for the longer course of 48 km (30 mi) or so, a time of 2 hours, 45 minutes is regularly achieved. Conventional distances to be covered vary from 5-50 km (3-30 mi) or more in length. Courses aare distingueshed with colored markers, so that competitors can follow the same approximate route. Altitude variations are modest because the essential movement is horizontal and not vertical. Historically, cross-country racing developed out of the need for a mode of transportation. In its noncompetitive aspects, it is a sport in which old and young alike may participate. Although not well adapted to heavily wooded areas, cross-country is practicable throughout the word and, unlike alpine skiing, does not depend on special slopes, mechanical ski tow, and the use of artificial snow. The funda mental cross-country stride combines a kickoff step with one foot and a gliding step with the other. These steps alternate smoothly and rapidly, the ski pole in one hand is planted down as the opposite leg begins its kickoff. Severa; variations to this basic stride allow for upward and downward movement and necessary maneuverability and provide for some degree or rest from continuous exertion. In the skating technique, developed in the 1980s a skier moves in a side-to-side motion, pushing off on the inside of the ski.
Traditionally, ski jumping is included as a part of Nordic Competition. Jumping has gained great popularity in the 20th century. The jumper races down a prepared vertical surface to a takeoff point, the distancae of the jump is measured from the lip of the takeoff to the place wher the jumper\\\'s skis touch the snow on landing. Points ar egiven both for the distance of the jump and for style of execution. To minimize the inevitable subjectivity involved in judging style, a complex system of evaluation is employed by trained judges. success in jumping depends more on the skier\\\'s balance and co-ordination than simply on the skier\\\'s jumping ability. The ultimate goal of the jumper is motionless control in flight with a precise landing. So that the movement from beginning to end may be viewed as one continuous whole.
Freestyle skiing is made up of three diciplines: ballet, moguls, and aerials. Ballet, being an event much like figure skating, consists of a program of jumps, spins, and gliding steps performed to music. The performance is limited to 2 minutes, 15 seconds. A ballet cours has a length of 260 m (853ft) and a width of 40m (131ft). The routine is judged on its technical difficulty and the skier\\\'s overall performance and choreography. Moguls is and event that consists of carefully calculated high-speed turns jon a heavily snow-bumped slope. The competitor is judged on the quality and techique of turns and the line down the slope, upright aerials, and speed. In aerials, a trained skier completes an acrobatic leap from a specially prepared ski jump. Scoring is based on the takeoff, form and execution of the maneuver in the air, and landing. Judges scores are multiplied by the degree of difficulty, with the low and high scores discarded.
History of Skiing
The use of some kind of equipment for travel over snow is ancient. Greek historians mention skins, sliders, or shoes used for this purpose, and similar references occur in Norse myths. The earliest skis of which any record exists were found in bogs in Swedan and Finland. They are thought to be between 4000 and 5000 years old and consist of elongated curved frames covered with leather.