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Skiing at the Olympic Winter Games encompasses six different disciplines: Alpine, Cross- Country, Freestyle, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping and Snowboard. Alpine skiing boasts a rich history at the Olympic Winter Games and while athletes often pay tribute to the crucial technical nous of their support team, when it comes to racing it's all about holding an aggressive line, and avoiding mishaps, in a bid to reach the finish line in the quickest time. As alpine's blue riband event, the downhill also boasts the longest course. With speeds reaching up to 130km/ h on icy runs, which have been specially prepared to test the limits of the world's best, there is also plenty of scope for danger. The slaloms, held over two legs, are considered the ultimate test of the skiers' all- round ability. While negotiating strategically- placed gates spread throughout the course at as fast a speed as possible, skiers must find the right combination of speed and rhythm to avoid crashing out of the race. The super combined race consists of a downhill followed by a one- run slalom, the winner being determined by the fastest total time. Using thinner skis, longer poles and more flexible boots than their alpine counterparts, the aim of cross-country skiers in the various Olympic disciplines is simple: cross the line as fast as possible. Race distances range from the 1.2km sprint to the men's 50km mass start, and competitors employ either the classical ( parallel) or freestyle ( skating) techniques, or a mixture in the pursuit events where a change of equipment is necessary at the halfway stage. 68OLYMPIC REVIEW FORMAT Below: Cross- country skiing is the ultimate endurance test