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Essay/Term paper: Types of skiing

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Types of Skiing

Downhill Skiing

In Downhill skiing, competitors take a "set course from start to finish."
They take turns racing and each run is timed. The person with the fastest time
wins. Downhill racers use ski poles to pick up speed at the start and for
balance when they take turns. They try to keep there skis as close as possible
to the snow. As he leaves the starting gate he activates an automatic timing
mechanism. Downhill racing is the fastest Alpine ski racing sport. Champion
skiers reach speeds of over 90 miles per hour on the steep, strait parts of the
course. The turns call for immense skill and powerful muscles. Taking tuns at
fast speeds puts a lot of stress on the legs. The racers use helmets for
protection, because falling at high speeds can be very dangerous. The sport
needs a great deal of courage. The good thing about it is that it is probably
the most exciting ski event ever. Large bumps called moguls, and steep pitches
add to the hazards. The course ranges from about 1 and a half to 3 miles long.
The fastest recorded speed for a man on skis is 129.827 miles per hour. The
fastest recorded speed for a woman is 124.759 miles per hour. Both records were
achieved at Lees Acres, France, in April 1984.


In slalom competitors race downhill through a series of gates
represented by pairs of poles. The flags on the gates are either red or blue.
There are three types of events: Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Super-G. Slalom
has many gates and tight turns. Giant Slalom has fewer gates and wider turns.
Super-G is a combination of Giant Slalom and downhill racing.
Getting through the gates of a slalom course calls for great balance and
skill. Races are won on the fastest time, as in downhill, but if a gate is
missed or taken wrongly it means disqualification of the racer. Olympic slalom
events require a course to have a vertical drop of at least 650 feet from the
beginning to the finish.

Cross Country

Cross Country skiing requires great stamina. The standard courses range
from 3 to 30 miles and some are even longer. There are fewer sharp turns or
steep slopes than there are in Alpine racing. In a biathlon competitors make
stops to shoot at targets. They carry their rifles strapped to their backs as
they progress from target to target areas. Time penalties are given for missed
The big marathons are held in Europe and in North America. Anyone can
take part, from competitors to beginners.
Ski poles play an important part in cross country skiing. The skier
uses the poles to help with the rhythm necessary to keep up a consistent pace
and help to propel forward. The champion Nordic skiers average about 12 miles
per hour. Like long distance runners, they go into a rhythmic stride.

Ski Jumping

Out of all the snow sports, ski jumping is the most spectacular. The
fearless competitors take off from huge ramps and soar through the air before
landing as much as 330 feet away. There are two ski jumping events, the 70m
and the 90m. These are not the height of the ramps, but how far you are
expected to jump. Points are awarded for style as well as for distance. A ski
jumper crouches to gather up speed as he goes down the [in run] of a ski tower.
The position in the air is important, and is judged on steadiness and control.
Ski jumping is probably the oldest form of skiing. Skis used for ski jumping
are heavier, longer, and wider than Alpine skis.

Top Ten Ski Resorts

Killington, Vermont

Killington is the largest ski resort in the Eastern United States. It
has six peaks referred to as separate mountains: Sunrise Mountain, Bear
Mountain, Sky Peak, Killington Peak, Snowdon Mountain, and Ramshead Mountain.
All these Mountains can be skied by skiers of all levels of ability and it is
easy for skiers to move from one mountain to the next. Considering how big
Killington is there are eighteen lifts: six double chairlifts, four triple
chairlifts, five quad chairlifts, two surface lifts, and one Gondola. The
Gondola that they have is three and a half miles long, which is the longest the
longest in North America. Killington's total skiable area is seven-hundred and
twenty-one acres with a vertical drop of three-thousand, one-hundred and sixty
feet. Killington has one-hundred and seven runs. Of these runs, 45% are
beginner runs, 20% are intermediate, and 35% are advanced. Killington's
longest trails are Juggernaut, Timberline, and Cascade, which are all about
ten miles long. Killington's average monthly temperatures during the season
are: 28 degrees in November, 26 degrees in December, 17 degrees in January,
16 degrees in February, 26 degrees in March, and 34 degrees in April.

Snowbird, Utah

One of Snowbird's best features is its easy access. Snowbird is only
thirty-one miles away from Salt Lake International Airport. The airport has
seven buses daily that take people to Snowbird, They also have eight car rental
agencies. Snowbird is a great mountain to ski on. They have wide open runs
that have, moguls, power, or just plain steep runs. Snowbird has an
unbelievable 1,900 acres of skiable terrain and has a total lift capacity of
8,810 skiers per hour. The base is about 8,100 feet and the top of the tram is
about 11,000. This provides a vertical drop of about 2,900 feet. The mountain
is serviced by eight chairlifts: one aerial tram, and seven double chairlifts.
Crowding is usually not a problem at Snowbird even though it is close to a major
city. There is not much crowding because there are a lot of other ski resorts
in that area. It must also be noted that Snowbird is not an easy mountain. The
beginner and intermediate runs that they have are harder than at other resorts.
Snowbird receives about 550 inches of snow annually. Its monthly snowfall is:
Sixty-five inches in November, seventy-six inches in January, eighty-four
inches February, one-hundred and seven inches in March, and seventy-five
inches in April. The longest beginner run is Big Emma at 550 feet long. The
longest intermediate run is Chips Run at two miles long. The longest advanced
run is Silver Fox at about 1.7 miles long.

Steamboat, Colorado

Steamboat has four peaks that are available to ski on: Thunderhead Peak,
Storm Peak, Sunshine Peak, and South Peak. These peaks are 3,600 feet
vertical, the second highest in Colorado. The base elevation is about 6,900
feet and Steamboat's highest peak is 10,500 feet. There are 2,500 skiable acres
and over fifty miles of trails. Steamboat is served by twenty lifts that are:
one eight passenger gondola, one quad chairlift, seven triple chairlifts,
nine double chairlifts, and two ski school lifts. The longest beginner run is
Why Not at three miles. The longest intermediate run is High noon at two and a
half miles. The longest advanced run is Shadows at just under one mile long.
Their annual snowfall is 325 inches. Their monthly snowfall is: 27 inches in
November, 71 inches in December, 63 inches in January, 56 inches in February,
57 inches in March, and 20 inches in April. Average monthly temperatures
during a season are: 28 degrees in November, 18 degrees in December, 15
degrees in January, 18 degrees in February, 26 degrees in March, and 38
degrees in April. Steamboat is an easier mountain as Snowbird is a harder
mountain. In other words, Steamboat does not have as many runs that are
intimidating. They do not even have one double-black diamond to ski on. This
Mouton is more of a family Mountain than anything else. However, the expert runs
are not wimpy. The will challenge the expert, and in the right snow conditions
(Powder), the may be among the best in Colorado.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, like Aspen, has two mountains: Baldy Mountain, and Dollar
Mountain. Dollar Mountain is about two miles away from "Badly." Shuttle buses
run every 15 minutes between both mountains. Shuttle services start about a
half an hour before the lifts open and run until half an hour after the lifts
close. Dollar Mountain is considered primarily a teaching mountain. It is
pretty small, easy, and there is not a single tree on that mountain. Dollar's
base is about 6,010 feet and its summit is at 6,638 feet, giving it a vertical
drop of 628 feet. The entire mountain consists of only 127 acres with uphill
lift service for 5,000 skiers per hour. Bald Mountain is a classic ski mountain,
and it is the mountain for which Sun Valley is most famous for. Baldy has all
the elements' skiers of all ability look forward to when skiing. There are
gentle rolling slopes, steep runs, mogul trails, and bowls filled with deep
powder. Baldy's base is 5,750 feet, the lowest of any Resort located in the
Rocky Mountains. Its summit is 9,150 feet giving it a vertical drop of 3,400
feet. Sun Valley's Mountain snow fall is: 36" in Nov., 60" in Dec., 100" in
Jan., 115" in Feb., and 100" in Mar.. Average monthly temperatures during a
season are: 32 degrees in Nov., 21 degrees in Dec., 19 degrees in Jan., 24
degrees in Feb., and 31 degrees in Mar.

Taos, Mexico

Taos is pretty much a mountain for expert skiers. 51% of the mountain's
runs are expert runs, only 25% are intermediate, and 24% are beginner. The
elevation of Taos at its summit is 11,819 feet. With its base at 9,207 feet,
the vertical drop is 2,612 feet. The longest beginner run is Whitefeather at
3.1 miles long. The longest intermediate run is Honeysuckle at 5.25 miles long.
The longest expert run is Longhorn at just a little over 2 miles. Taos is the
kind of mountain where it is either snowing a lot or it is clear skies. They
get over 323 inches of snow annually, it's monthly average is: 40" in Nov., 36"
Dec., 58" in Jan., 37" in Feb., 63" in Mar., and 39" in Apr. The average
monthly temperatures at the base of the mountain are: 27 degrees in Nov., 21
degrees in Dec., 22 degrees in Jan., 28 degrees in Feb., 32 degrees in Mar., and
39 degrees in Apr..

Telluride, Colorado

By anyone's definition Telluride is a great mountain. Located in
Uncompahgre National Forest deep in the San Jan mountains, it's trails offer
terrain for skiers of every skill level. Telluride mountain has 3,155 vertical
feet. Its base is at 8,735 feet and its summit is at 11,890 feet. They have
735 acres of skiable terrain and it is serviced by: 1 detachable quad chairlift,
6 double chairlifts, 2 triple chairlifts, and 1 Poma lift. The longest beginner
run is Tellyride trail, and the lift that takes you to that run is the world's
detachable quad chairlift at 2.85 miles long. The longest intermediate run is
See Forever, and the longest advanced run is The Plunge. In total, there are 45
trails of which 24% are beginner, 50% intermediate, and 26% are advanced.
Telluride's annual snowfall is 300 inches. It's monthly snowfall is: 20" in
Nov., 53' in Dec., 50" in Jan., 37" in Feb., and 66" in Mar..

Breckenridge, Colorado

Three mountains comprise Breckenridge ski area: Peak 8, Peak 9, and Peak
10. From a base of 9,600 feet to a summit of 12,213 feet, there are 2613
vertical feet of wonderful skiing. All the mountains are interconnected by
fifteen lifts that include 3 quads, 1 triple chairlift, nine double chairlifts,
and two surface lifts. The Resorts uphill lift capacity is 22,650 skiers per
hour. Breckenridge is a large Resort: there are more than 1,480 skiable acres,
consisting of 107 trails. 23% of the trails are easy, 28% are intermediate, and
49% are expert. The longest run on peak 8 is a beginner run that is named 4
O'clock and is 3 miles long. Centennial and Crystal are the longest
intermediate runs each at 1.3 miles long. The longest expert run is Cimarron at
two-thirds of a mile. Breckenridge's annual snowfall is about 320". There
average monthly snowfall is: 36" in Nov., 31: in Dec., 32" in Jan., 45" in Feb.,
58" in Mar., and 54" in Apr. Average monthly temperatures are: 26 degrees in
Nov., 21 degrees in Dec., 21 degrees in Jan., 23 degrees in Feb., 29 degrees in
Mar., and 34 degrees in Apr.

Aspen, Colorado

Like Snowbird, Aspen mountain has easy access. Aspen is only 200 miles
away from the major city, Denver. It is also easy to make it to Aspen by air.
United Express and Continental Express offer quick service from Denver's
Stapleton International Airport to Aspen. Aspen mountain is different form any
other mountain in this report. It is one of only two mountains that does not
have any beginner runs (the other is Sun Valley). It may also be the only
mountain the majority of the trails are short. Located in the White River
National Forest, Aspen Mountain has over 23 mails of trails. Of these trails
35% are intermediate trails, 35% are black diamond, and 30% are double black
diamond. The base elevation is 7,945 feet and its summit is 11,212 feet. This
gives the skier 3,267 vertical feet of skiing. This resort has: 1 Gondola, 1
quad superchair, 2 fixed grip quads, and 4 double chairlifts. Aspen's uphill
lift capacity is 10,775 skiers per hour. Compared to other mountains, Aspen
receives annual snowfall of about 30 inches. It's average monthly snowfall is:
34" in Nov., 52" in Dec., 40" in Jan., 51" in Feb., and 66" in Mar. It does not
seem as that is a lot of snow, it is not. They get a lot of their snow from
snow-making machines.

Vail, Colorado

Vail Mountain is one of the greatest ski mountains in North America. By
anyone's definition, Vail Mountain is BIG, consisting of 12,500 acres of which
3,787 acres are developed trails. Vail is the largest single ski area in
America. The developed trails total 102 runs, the longest being Riva Ridge at
three miles. Vail has a base elevation of 8,150 feet and rose to 11,250 feet at
its summit. This equates to a 3,100 foot vertical drop. This terrain is
serviced by the following lift equipment: Gondola, 1 high speed enclosed
quadruple chairlift, 5 high-speed detachable chairlifts, 1 fixed-grip chairlift,
3 triple chairlifts, 9 double chairlifts, and 2 surface lifts.
Vail, with its excellent mix of terrain offer's challenge and excitement
to skiers of all ability levels. The front face of the mountain consists of 32%
beginner trails, 31% intermediate trails, and 32% are expert runs. The back
side of the mountain consists of four bowls, three of which are either advanced
or intermediate depending on the snow conditions.
Vail Mountains receives an annual snow fall of about 300-350 inches.
It's average monthly snow fall is: 60" in November, 62" in December, 62" in
January, 54" in February, 65" in March, and 34" in April. The average daily
temperatures during the season are: 28 degrees in November, 21 degrees in
December, 20 in January, 23 in February , 28 in March, and 35 degrees in April.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole is located in the Bridger Teton National Forest. The ski
area is one of the largest in North America and has over 4 square miles of
skiable terrain. The lower mountain, where all the beginner and most of the
intermediate runs are, is called Apres' Vous. Right next to Apres' Vous is
Rendezvous Mountain. Rendezvous is where Jackson Hole's difficult runs are.
The mountains have: 6 beginner trails, 26 intermediate trails, and 25 expert
trails. Jackson Hole has the following lifts: 1 Aerial tram, 1 quad chairlift,
1 triple chairlift, 5 double chairlifts, and 1 high speed poma.
The longest beginner's run is Eagle's Nest. It is 2,062 feet long. The
longest intermediate run is Gros Ventre. It is 1.4 miles long. The longest
expert run is Rendezvous Bowl at 2,700 feet.
Jackson Hole's yearly snowfall is: 108" in November, 84" in December, 84"
in January, 96" in February, and 48" in March. Jackson Hole is a big mountain.
Its base elevation is 6,311 feet and the elevation of the summit is 10,450 feet.
A vertical drop of 4,139 feet gives skiers the most vertical feet of skiing of
any major United States ski resort.

Ski Equipment

Proper ski equipment plays a major role for those wishing to hit the
slopes. The type of equipment needed depends on the kind of skiing the
individual wished to perform. Different equipment is needed for different types
of skiing. The beginner will use a far different type of binding, for instance,
than the experienced downhill skier.
Competitors and Cross Country skiers need more advanced equipment geared
specifically to that sport. Also, clothing plays a major role as a skier who is
unprepared for freezing conditions and possible high winds can suffer from
frostbite or even worse.


When buying skis check that they are not damaged in any way and that the
running base is smooth and flat. The shovel plays a big part in turning, it
flexes and leads the skier around. The narrowest part of the ski is the waist.
The waist is where you place your boot. The ski is arched, or has a Camber to
support the waist and to control different forces you might put on it. Without
a skier the ski would only touch the snow at two points - the shovel and the
tail. The tail is tipped up to reduce possible damage.
It is really simple to find out how long you want your ski to be. You
want your ski to be about the same height as you are.


Aside from their part in attaching the skier to the ski and inducing the
right forward lean, ski boots must feel comfortable. Ski boots need adjustment
to keep the right fit throughout the day. Make sure your toes are not pushed
tightly against the front of your boot and that the heel of the foot is not kept
down. When strapping your boot on keep your heel down. Your ankle must be
free to bend, allowing you to go into the forward lean position.


Ski binding are probably the most complicated item of your ski
equipment. If they are not perfectly adjusted you will find out that your skis
will be coming off all the time, or will fail to come off when they should,
which could lead to a bad accident.
The bindings have two main parts: a toe piece and a heel piece.
Although it can vary , the toe piece normally releases under sideways pressure
and the heel piece under forward and upward pressure. Some bindings have a heel
pivot so the whole heel binding swivels to release the boot. The toe piece is a
spring-loaded gadget made to release your boot when the forces on your leg build
up to a dangerous level.


Built as much for balance as for turning skis, ski poles must be the
correct length. When you are holding your poles they should be at elbow length.
Plastic baskets are at the end of your poles. The baskets normally have at
least one hole in them so that you can stick the other pole's tip threw it to
have an easier way to carry your poles. Lost baskets should be replaced as soon
as possible.


Whatever type of ski gear you use, remember to wear ski clothing in
layers. Make sure your gear is warm, windproof, and waterproof.
The ski jacket should be wind and waterproof. Look for strong zippers
covered with flaps and drawstrings for durability. Gloves should be large
enough to let the fingers move and thick enough to keep the fingers warm. Make
sure the cuffs go over the wrists and the palms have extra padding.
Goggles give protection to the eyes against the cold, the snow, or
sunlight. Keep them in your jacket when you are not using them to avoid getting
them scratched or lost.
Ski pants or "bibs" should have straps that feel comfortable over your
shoulders. They should also feel snug but not too tight around your waist. They
should have pockets and also be waterproof and windproof.


Weber, Robert E. The Greatest Ski Resorts in America, Dallas, Texas; Guide
Book Publishing Co., 1988.

Walter, Claire The Best Ski Resorts in America, New York, New York; Randt
and Company, Inc., 1988.

Bartelski, Konrad + Neilands, Robin Learn Downhill Skiing in a Weekend,
Toronto; Daring Kindersley Limited, 1991.

Markels, Alex "Travel Watch," Snow Country, March/April," page 37.

Skiing." Comton's, 1992 page 311-314.

Barritt, Norman Snow Sports, New York, New York; Franklin Watts, 1987.

Skiing By: Bryan Colter


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