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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

OLYMPIC REVIEW69 advance to the final round where they execute two more jumps in reverse order. Moguls is a test of skiers' ability to ski fast down a course peppered with large jumps and two ' air bumps'. The air bumps - one at the top, one at the bottom - give athletes the chance to impress judges with tricks that include spins, loops, flips and twists. Vancouver 2010 will see the introduction of two new Olympic events: men's and women's ski cross. A part of the International Ski Federation ( FIS) World Cup calendar since 2003, ski cross will feature four athletes racing a course, which includes turns, banking and jumps. Races can be tense, dramatic affairs and a fast start before the first of several, often decisive turns is usually critical for the outcome of the race. Snowboarding was introduced at the Nagano Games in 1998 with giant slalom and halfpipe featured. Snowboard cross was later introduced at the 2006 Games. The halfpipe has become a firm favourite with the public and takes place in a half- cylinder- shaped course dug deep into the hill. Using speed gained on the slope, snowboarders ride up over the rim of the pipe and perform acrobatic aerial tricks. The object is to perform difficult tricks with perfect form. ( See page 45 for a full preview.) The concept of ski jumping seems simple: ski down a long ramp perched on the side of a steep hill and use a combination of bravery and speed to try and land as far as possible on the snow below. However, there is often a fine line between a gold medal and fourth place in a sport where the smallest details can be crucial. After waiting for optimal wind conditions, athletes crouch on their wide skis, head down the in- run and burst off the end of the ramp. Assuming the V- style position, they then glide in mid- air to maximise lift and minimise drag before landing as far as possible, and in a required telemark position. Although distance is crucial, judges also award points for style and for the execution of the landing. Nordic combined, which has been on the Olympic programme since the first Winter Games in 1924, sees athletes compete in ski jumping and cross- country skiing; athletes set off for the ski in accordance with their finishing position in the jump. There are two individual events and a team event. AboveSki jumping demands bravery and skill LeftDownhill skiers reach speeds of up to 130km/ h Endurance, stamina and speed are all crucial factors. The women's 30km and men's 50km mass start races are considered the blue riband events, and can often be decided by late lunges at the finish line. However, the men's and women's relay events - in which the first two legs are held in classical technique and the last two in freestyle - have created plenty of drama in past editions of the Games. Previously restricted to the men's and women's moguls and aerials competition, aerials is arguably freestyle skiing's most spectacular event and, following a strategic run- in, involves executing jumps off a ramp. In mid- air, skiers execute a range of somersaults and twists with varying degrees of difficulty in a bid to wow the judges, who award points for take off ( 20% of the score), form in the air ( 50%) and landing ( 30%). After a two- jump qualification round, the 12 top aerialists SPORTS PROFILES SPORTS PROFILES