Skiing - A Popular Winter Sport
Skiing is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is a way of moving over snow and and an activity that millions of people of all ages enjoy.
Types of Skiing
There are three types of skiing: Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and freestyle skiing.
Alpine skiing is skiing down a hill. The word comes from the Alps, the highest mountains in Europe where downhill skiing started. Beginners slide down gentle slopes and keep the front tips of their skis together. This is called a snow plough. When you get better you ski parallel and keep your ankles together.
For many years skis were made out of wood. Today modern carvers are made of a combination of different materials. They have metal edges and are broader at the ends so that you can turn more easily. Generally, better skiers use longer skis because they keep steady at higher speeds. Safety bindings help prevent leg injuries. They separate you from the skis when you fall down.
The first boots were made out of leather. Today they have two parts. The outer shell is hard and gives skiers more protection, the inner boot is made up of foam or other materials and keeps your feet warm. Two ski poles are used to help you keep your balance.
Alpine skiing is a very popular form of recreation in many countries. Millions enjoy it in the USA, Canada, many European countries and Japan.
There are thousands of ski areas all over the world. In America, Colorado is the most popular state for skiing with famous resorts like Vail and Aspen. Europe has some of the most luxurious and famous skiing areas including St. Moritz (Switzerland), Val d’Isere (France), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) , Kitzbühel and the Arlberg (Austria) and Sestriere (Italy).
Alpine Skier in a race
Nordic skiing includes cross-country skiing and ski jumping. It is called Nordic because cross country skiing has been a way of getting around in Norway, Sweden and Finland for a long time.
Cross-country skiing is the most popular form of Nordic skiing. Skiers glide over flat or hilly areas, and along forest trails. The skiers move by thrusting their poles into the snow and striding forward. Cross-country skiing is a good exercise and strengthens your overall physical condition.
The skis are much lighter and narrower than alpine skis and do not have a metal edge. The poles are also longer than alpine poles because you use more thrust to move forward.
Ski jumping is a form of skiing for athletes. A skier glides down a steep track and flies off a platform at the end. Jumpers are judged on the distance of their jump and on their jumping style.
Free styling is form of skiing in which skiers perform stunts, unusual or difficult moves. It became popular during the 1960s and 1970s. Today there are three main forms of free styling. In ballet, the skiers ski down a slope and make jumps and spins on their way. In the aerial, skiers leap off a platform and perform spins and flips in the air before landing on the ground again. Mogul skiing is skiing on large bumps as fast as you can.
Safety is an important part of skiing. At the beginning all skiers should take a course and get instructions from qualified skiing instructors. Doing exercise is also important and can reduce the chance of injuries.
Skiers should stay on marked trails or pistes . In most regions they have colored markings that show you if they are easy, medium or difficult. Never try to ski on a slope that is too hard for you!
It is important to watch out for other skiers. Never ski when you are overtired! If you are injured stay where you are and wait for rescue skiers to come. Clothing should be warm, lightweight and wind resistant. Use sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and wear a helmet to protect yourself from head injuries.
Ever since people started to ski there have been contests to find out who could ski fastest, jump farthest or run fastest on skis. Competitions are organized by the International Ski Federation (FIS). It holds World Championships every two years and skiing events are a very important part of the Olympic Games every four years. In addition, World Cups are held every year.
The slalom is a race in which a skier skis through about 50 gates. They are placed so that a skier must make many quick turns. The times of two runs are added together. In the giant slalom the gates are farther apart and the turns are smoother.Racers must be able to accelerate very well and should never lose their rhythm.
Super G and downhill are the so-called speed events. The Super G is a mixture between the downhill and the giant slalom. It is the youngest of the Alpine events. The downhill is the most dangerous of all skiing events. A skier descends a course of about 3 to 5 km as fast as he can. They must pass through control gates that are set up to keep them from dangerous areas and to make them slow down. Downhill skiers often reach speeds of up to 130 km an hour. Both Super G and downhill races only have one run.
Nordic competition consists of five events.
Cross country races are held on courses with hilly and flat parts. They can have various lengths of up to 50 km. In relay races four athletes form a national team and cover the same distance one after the other. The men’s relay is 40 km long, the women’s relay 20 km long.
Jumping competitions take place on hills of various heights. Jumpers slide down a snow covered track, take off at the end, fly through the air and land on a specially built landing hill. You get points for each jump depending on how far you jump. Your flying and landing style are also judged.
In the Nordic combined athletes race over a 15 km course and have to make three ski jumps. They receive points for each event.
In the biathlon an athlete must combine cross-country skiing with shooting skills. Participants ski over a 10 or 20 km long course on which targets are set up at different points. Skiers must shoot at the targets from a standing and lying down position. For every miss you must ski a penalty round. In the biathlon relay four skiers race 7.5 km each.
History of skiing
The oldest skis, probably about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, were found in Sweden and Finland. Some of the first skis were broad and looked like snowshoes. They were made from the bones of large animals.
Skis were first used for transportation and are still used as a way of travelling in Norway, Sweden and Finland. In the USA skiers delivered the mail in the snowy mountains of the American Rockies. They were even used in wars during the Middle Ages.
Skiing as a sport developed in the 19th century. In 1843 the first competitions were held in Norway and at the end of the 19th century skiing developed in the Alps. An Austrian, Mathias Zdarsky, known as the father of Alpine skiing, had the idea of using two poles for balance and shortened his skis. After World War II Alpine skiing started to boom in the Alps because more and more lifts were built. Although cross-country skiing developed earlier, Alpine skiing became more popular.
- accelerate = to become faster
- add = to put together
- although = while
- ankle = the part of your body that connects your leg with your foot
- athlete = someone who competes in sport
- balance = to keep steady and try not to fall
- bone = the hard parts of the body which form the skeleton
- boom = to increase and become very successful
- broad = wide, not narrow
- bump = very small hill of snow that you ski over
- carver = modern skis that are wider at the front and narrower in the middle - they are also heavier and you can turn more easily
- century = a hundred years
- combine = here: to do two things very well
- competition = a situation in which you try to be better than the others
- consist of = is made up of
- contest = competition
- control gates = gates that a skier must pass through
- cover = here: ski
- cross country = across the fields
- deliver =to bring to a place
- depend = affected or decided by
- descend =to go down
- develop = grow
- distance = here: length of a track
- downhill = race in which you ski very fast from the top to the bottom without making many turns
- edge = corner of an object
- enjoy = like
- exercise = something you do to stay healthy and become stronger
- farthest = the greatest distance
- flip =you jump and turn over in the air so that your feet go over your head
- foam = soft kind of rubber with a lot of air in it
- forwards =to the front
- gates = poles put into the snow that you have to ski through
- generally = normally
- gentle = not very steep
- glide = to move smoothly and easily
- goggles = pair of glasses made of glass or plastic with a rubber edge that fit against your skin and protect your eyes
- height = how high something is
- helmet = a hard cover that keeps your head safe
- hill = like a mountain but smaller
- in addition = also
- including = also
- injury = if you are hurt
- instructions = rules that someone gives you
- judge = calculated, decide
- leap = jump
- leg = one of the long parts of your body that your feet are joined to
- length = how long something is
- lightweight = not very heavy
- luxurious = very expensive and beautiful
- mail = letters and packages that you get
- marked = very easy to see
- miss = if you don’t hit it
- mixture = combination
- move = here: tricks or figures
- narrow = not wide
- Nordic combined = race with cross-country skiing and jumping
- outer shell = the part that has contact with the snow and which is made of hard plastic
- overall = including everything
- overtired = too tired
- participant = a person who takes part in a competition
- penalty round = an extra round
- perform =make, act
- physical condition = the shape your body is in
- piste = snow-covered slope that people ski on
- place = put
- pole = a long stick that skiers use
- popular = liked by a lot of people
- prevent = stop keep away
- protection=to be protected or guarded
- race = competition to find out who is fastest
- reach = get to
- receive = get
- recreation = an activity that you do for fun, in your free time
- reduce = to make smaller
- relay race = a race where four team members take part one after the other
- rescue = to go and help someone who has hurt themselves or are in danger
- resort = a place where people go to spend their holidays
- run = race
- safety = keeping away from danger
- safety binding = connects the shoe with the ski and opens when you fall
- separate = divide
- set up = put up
- skiing instructor = a person who shows you how to ski correctly
- skill = if you can do something well
- slide = to move down or ski
- slope = a part of a mountain that is covered with snow which people can ski on
- smooth = here : without any sudden movements
- snowplough = to ski very slowly with your legs apart
- specially = made only for this event
- speed = how fast something is
- spin = turn around quickly
- steady = in a fixed position, stable
- steep= not flat difficult to ski
- strengthen = to make stronger or better
- stride = to move forward with long steps
- stunt = a dangerous action that is done to entertain people
- target = a round board with circles on it which you have to shoot at
- thrust = to push into the ground
- tie = end
- track = here: slope
- trail = a small path in the open
- turn = bend, to make curves in the snow
- ultraviolet ray= light that you cannot see but which makes your skin darker when you are in the sun
- various = different
- watch out = be careful of
- wind resistant = it should not let wind through
- World Championship = athletes from all over the world get together to find out who is the best