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Alpine skiing Equipment and History






Reinforced plastic boots are specific to the competition discipline. Raising of the boot sole is permitted to increase the ability to pressurise the ski. The maximum distance between boot sole and foot is regulated, presently at 50mm for men and 45mm for women.


Made of leather or synthetic material. Slalom gloves also have a plastic forearm guard for protection when skiing through the gates.


Ski goggles protect the eyes against weather, glare and the effects of speed on the eyes. Goggles can be worn with a variety of lens colours to maximise contrast and visibility.


A helmet is compulsory for downhill and super-G and is often worn in slalom and giant slalom. Some skiers choose to attach a chin guard.


In the downhill and super-G, poles are curved to fit around the body to reduce air resistance. In the slalom events, poles are straight and often have plastic guards covering the knuckles to help skiers knock the slalom poles out of their path.


Skis are generally made of various material (wood, composite fibres) specially adapted to the wear and tear they undergo during a race. Their "performance" on the snow depends also on their length, width and shape which vary, depending on the course, and the speed. Metal edges on the skis are sharpened for every race to make the ski hold during the turn on the icy surface.


Skin-tight racing suits are worn to reduce air resistance and suits must meet minimum requirements for air permeability. Padding may be worn under the ski suit a plastic back protector is usually worn in downhill. In slalom events, pads are frequently worn on the arms, knees and shins.


Bindings are the link between the boots and the skis. Safety bindings will release when the torsion or impact is strong enough. The maximum height (distance between the bottom of the running surface of the ski and the ski boot sole) is regulated at 55mm.