/skee"ing/, n.
the act or sport of gliding on skis.
[1890-95; SKI + -ING1]

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Sport and mode of transportation involving moving over snow on a pair of long flat runners (skis) attached to shoes or boots.

Skiing was born in northern Europe; the oldest skis, found in Russia, are some 6,000 years old. The earliest skis were often short and broad. The first written references to skiing come from the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) and describe skiing in northern China. Skiing was used in warfare in Scandinavia from the 13th century or earlier to the 20th century. The earliest mode of skiing developed into the sport now called cross-country skiing. Competitive cross-country skiing began in Norway in the 1840s and had reached California by the 1860s. Improvements on primitive bindings с 1860 led to greater popularity of recreational skiing. Ski-jumping competitions date from the 1870s. Downhill skiing was limited by the need to climb the hill before or after skiing down; the building of ski lifts began in the 1930s. Skis were originally made of a single piece of wood, usually hickory; laminated construction began in the 1930s, plastic running surfaces were introduced in the 1950s, and no wood has been used in the construction of downhill skis for several decades. The business of skiing began its serious growth in the 1930s and became explosive in the 1950s and '60s; huge resorts now dot the Austrian, Swiss, and Italian Alps, the Rocky Mountains, and other mountainous regions. See also Alpine skiing.
(as used in expressions)
cross country skiing

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▪ 2009


Alpine Skiing.
      The 2007–08 Alpine skiing season saw a changing of the guard as American skiers dominated the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup series, sweeping the overall titles and taking 5 of the 12 discipline crowns. Americans Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn (Vonn, Lindsey ) each took overall honours, matching the feat of U.S. ski team stars Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney in 1983. It was the second season title for Miller, who had claimed his first in 2005. Miller also won the super combined title and came within an eyelash of winning the downhill crown. He captured six World Cup races during the season to bring his career total to 31. American Ted Ligety, the 2006 Olympic combined champion, picked up his first season title, winning the giant slalom (GS).

      Didier Cuche of Switzerland battled Miller all season long in the downhill, but despite winning just one event, Cuche defended his title by a mere five points after the final race was canceled owing to soft snow conditions in Bormio, Italy. The battle for the super G crown was even tighter, with Austrian Hannes Reichelt edging Cuche by a single point in the final race to win his first World Cup title. Cuche had the title in hand until one of his own teammates, running last, bumped the Swiss star one spot down the rankings and out of the points. Manfred Moelgg of Italy earned his first season crown, in slalom.

      Vonn, meanwhile, completely dominated the women's downhill, clinching the title nearly a month before the end of the season with a second-place finish on the 2010 Olympic course in Whistler, B.C. She won six times to set a new U.S. women's career mark with 13. With 10 of those victories in downhill, Vonn also surpassed Daron Rahlves and Picabo Street as the most successful downhiller in American history.

      Vonn was challenged for the overall title by defending champion Nicole Hosp of Austria, who finished second. Going into the World Cup finals in Bormio, however, it was Germany's Maria Riesch who appeared to be the potential spoiler. Vonn clinched the title by winning the second run of slalom in the finals. Riesch went on to narrowly eclipse Vonn for the super combined crown and also took the super G title—the first two World Cup crystal globes of her career. Austrian Marlies Schild handily defended her slalom title over Hosp with five wins (down from seven a year earlier). Italian Denise Karbon won the opening GS in Soelden, Austria, and went on to win the title, dominating the event with five victories during the season.

Nordic Skiing.
      Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic ran away with the men's cross-country World Cup competition in 2007–08, claiming both the overall and distance titles with five wins to earn his first crystal globes. Ola Hattestad of Norway won the men's sprint title. In the women's field, Virpi Kuitunen of Finland defended her overall and distance titles with six wins during the season, and Petra Majdic of Slovenia took the sprint crown. With her sprint victory in Rybinsk, Russia, in December 2007, Kikkan Randall became the first American woman to win a World Cup cross-country race.

      In Nordic combined, Ronny Ackermann of Germany captured his third overall title, posting three World Cup victories. Petter Tande of Norway finished the season in second place behind Ackermann, and Bill Demong of the U.S. placed third—the best finish ever by an American.

      In ski jumping, Thomas Morgenstern of Austria amassed 10 victories, including 6 straight to open the season, en route to winning his first overall World Cup title. A victory at the Four Hills Tournament eluded Morgenstern, however, as he placed second to overall winner Janne Ahonen of Finland. Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria soared 212 m (696 ft) to win the FIS ski flying world championships, held in Oberstdorf, Ger.

Freestyle Skiing.
      Australian Dale Begg-Smith, the 2006 Olympic moguls champion, continued to dominate moguls in 2007–08, winning his third straight World Cup title. Aiko Uemura of Japan set a torrid pace down the stretch, taking five consecutive wins at the end of the season to claim her first moguls crown. Steve Omischl of Canada defended his aerials World Cup title with six wins. Australian Jacqui Cooper landed five victories to defend her crown, the fifth of her career. Ophélie David of France was the runaway winner in women's ski cross. Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic won the men's ski cross title. Ski halfpipe titles went to Canada's Matthew Hayward and Sarah Burke.

      With no snowboarding world championships held in 2008, eyes were on the X Games. Americans Shaun White and Gretchen Bleiler were on top again, each of them earning wins in the halfpipe, while Lindsey Jacobellis and Nate Holland, also of the U.S., won their fourth and third, respectively, X Games snowboardcross (SBX) titles. On the snowboarding World Cup circuit, the Swiss swept the halfpipe titles, with Iouri Podladtchikov coming out of nowhere to win his first men's crown and Manuela Laura Pesko taking her third straight women's title. Pierre Vaultier of France and Maelle Ricker of Canada won their first SBX World Cup titles. In Alpine snowboarding, the parallel and overall World Cup titles went to Austrian Benjamin Karl in the men's field and Nicolien Sauerbreij of The Netherlands on the women's side.

Tom Kelly

▪ 2008


Alpine Skiing.
      The 2006–07 Alpine skiing World Cup season saw some realignment among the top skiers. “Croatian Sensation” Janica Kostelic, who had battled injuries throughout her career, took the winter off and then announced her retirement in the spring. In Kostelic's absence, Nicole Hosp of Austria took the overall title with 1,572 points in 35 events, followed by fellow Austrian Marlies Schild (90 points back). American Julia Mancuso, the 2006 Olympic giant slalom (GS) champion, finished third overall as she won the first four World Cup races of her career and produced the best American women's season since 1983. At the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine world championships in Are, Swed., in February, local heroine Anja Pärson (Parson, Anja ) swept the first three women's races—the supergiant slalom (super G), the downhill, and the super combined (one run of downhill, one of slalom on the same day). Hosp was gold medalist in the GS, and Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic captured the slalom.

      In men's competition Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal erupted at the world championships to claim gold medals in the downhill and the GS, while Austrian Mario Matt repeated his 2001 gold medal in slalom. The other men's champions were relative newcomers: Patrick Staudacher of Italy in the super G and Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland in the super combined. Svindal's double triumph gave him the springboard to surge past defending World Cup king Benjamin Raich of Austria for the overall title with 1,268 points after 36 events.

      Controversial American Bode Miller fared poorly in Are. He lost the downhill lead when he skied into a fluke fog bank midway through the run and had to settle for seventh place; three days earlier he had led the downhill portion of the super combined but skied erratically in the slalom (run under lights at night) and dropped to sixth. Miller did win four World Cup races, which moved him to a career total of 25, only 2 fewer than the American record held by three-time World Cup overall champion Phil Mahre.

Nordic Skiing.
 Germany's Tobias Angerer made it two men's World Cup cross-country overall titles in a row, whereas Norwegian Marit Bjørgen saw her two-year streak ended as Virpi Kuitunen of Finland overwhelmed the women's field in 2006–07. Angerer and Kuitunen also won the inaugural FIS Tour de Ski. Tour races were not part of the World Cup, but to ensure that top athletes competed in each race, World Cup points were awarded at the conclusion to the top skiers. At the world championships in Sapporo, Japan, Kuitunen, who had been sidelined for two years after being involved in a doping scandal at the 2001 world championships, stormed her way to four medals, including three golds.

      In Nordic combined, Finn Hannu Manninen extended his World Cup reign to four consecutive seasons and ended his personal drought at the world championships. In Sapporo he captured the Nordic combined sprint for his first individual world or Olympic gold medal and then led Finland to a 28-second victory in the team event. Poland's Adam Malysz, a three-time (2001–03) World Cup ski jump titlist, made an epic comeback in 2007, turning up the heat in the final month to win six meets en route to his fourth World Cup jumping crown. He also won his fourth world championship gold medal, capturing the normal hill title in Sapporo.

Freestyle Skiing.
      Poor snow conditions in Europe throughout the winter whittled the freestyle skiing World Cup schedule, especially for halfpipe, and forced a six-week delay in the world championships in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, which were finally held in March without ski halfpipe events.

      Despite the problems, it was another season of brilliant skiing for Canadian Jenn Heil and Dale Begg-Smith, the Canadian who skied for Australia. The 2006 Olympic moguls champions successfully defended their World Cup moguls titles and led the dual moguls points. At the world championships each won the dual moguls gold medal. In skicross (SX), Norway's Audun Grønvold and Ophélie David of France were World Cup champions; the SX gold medals in Madonna di Campiglio went to David and defending champion Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic. In aerials, former World Cup champion Steve Omischl of Canada won his second crown, and Australian Jacqui Cooper collected her fourth. Han Xiaopeng, the 2006 Olympic champion, and Li Nina, both of China, were the aerial world champions.

      American Lindsey Jacobellis, who lost the Olympic gold medal in 2006 with an ill-conceived celebratory move just before crossing the snowboardcross (SBX) finish line, bounced back strongly in 2007. She successfully defended her SBX world championship and grabbed the World Cup title. Mathieu Crepel of France was a double champ at the world championships in Arosa, Switz., taking the big air gold medal and returning the next day as rain melted the 'pipe (creating soft snow conditions) to become the surprise halfpipe world champion. Swiss rider Simon Schoch was World Cup parallel champion and parallel slalom gold medalist in Arosa. Women's halfpipe specialist Manuela Laura Pesko of Switzerland also won both the world and World Cup titles.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2007


Alpine Skiing.
      In the 2006 Alpine skiing season, American Bode Miller, who had dominated the 2005 season, performed poorly at the Winter Olympics, held in Turin, Italy, in February, and was unable to repeat as overall champion, although he won two World Cup races to give him 21 victories for his career. In late January Miller ended his unprecedented string of consecutive World Cup starts at 136, going back to the end of the 2002 season. At the time, the second longest men's streak was held by Austrian Benjamin Raich (Raich, Benjamin ) (see Biographies)—at just over a dozen consecutive races. Meanwhile, Raich demonstrated that the two gold medals he earned in Turin were no fluke: he won the men's overall, giant slalom (GS), and combined World Cup titles. The World Cup downhill crown went to his teammate Michael Walchhofer, but Norwegian rising star Aksel Lund Svindal broke up the Austrian monopoly, capturing the supergiant slalom (super-G) title, despite an injury early in the season. Italy's Giorgio Rocca, who won the first five slaloms of the World Cup season, held off Finland's Kalle Palander for the season-long title.

 Among the women it was another duel between Croatian Janica Kostelic and defending overall champion Anja Pärson of Sweden. Kostelic won the Olympic combined event and the 2006 overall title and also was the World Cup slalom champion; Pärson took the Olympic slalom and the World Cup GS title. Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister, who had said before the season began that she would retire in the spring, went out on a quadruple high note: after capturing the downhill and super-G gold medals in Turin, she finished the season as downhill and super-G World Cup champion.

Nordic Skiing.
      The women's cross-country World Cup points race was a duel to the finish. Canadian Beckie Scott won four races but fell 17 points shy of overtaking defending champion Marit Bjørgen of Norway, who won her second straight overall title and her fourth consecutive sprint title. The women's World Cup distance championship went to Russian Yuliya Chepalova, with Czech Katerina Neumannova, the Olympic 30-km gold medalist, as runner-up.

      The men's crown fell early to Tobias Angerer of Germany—all but conceded by his main competition before the Olympics. Angerer, who started the season with one triumph in his career (during the 2004 season), won five times and collected the distance championship as well as the World Cup crystal globe as overall champion. Sweden's Björn Lind was the sprint titlist in Turin and in the World Cup standings.

      In Nordic combined Finland's Hannu Manninen, who had failed to win any individual medals in three Olympics and five world championships, strolled to his third World Cup title in a row. Czech Jakub Janda was the World Cup champion for ski jumping.

Freestyle Skiing.
      In 2006 World Cup freestyle skiing, Olympic gold medalists Dale Begg-Smith of Australia and Canadian Jennifer Heil breezed to the moguls titles. Heil made it three women's titles in a row, winning 4 of the 11 moguls contests and finishing second in 5 others. Norwegian Kari Traa, the former Olympic and world champion who retired at season's end, was second in Turin and in the World Cup standings. Canadian-born Begg-Smith won six times en route to the men's overall title, with Canada's Alexandre Bilodeau a distant second. In aerials competition, Olympic women's champion Evelyne Leu of Switzerland finished first in the World Cup by just 17 points over Alla Tsuper of Belarussia. Belarusian Dmitry Dashinsky, the Olympic silver medalist behind China's Han Xiaopeng, competed in just 7 of 11 World Cup meets, but he won four times to edge Canadian Kyle Nissen for the men's World Cup aerials title.

      American halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White (White, Shaun ) (see Biographies) drew attention in Turin for his spectacular tricks and his splashy style, but he competed in only two World Cup events. His teammate Hannah Teter, the women's Olympic halfpipe champion, won the first two World Cups of the season and never rode in the last eight events. American parallel riders—in the slalom or parallel giant slalom (PGS)—usually competed in almost all World Cup races, but halfpipe riders often skipped many of the World Cup contests. Thus, Germans Jan Michaelis and Xaver Hoffmann finished one–two in the men's halfpipe World Cup rankings, while Swiss rider Manuela Laura Pesko was the women's champion.

       Daniela Meuli of Switzerland, the Olympic PGS champion, also topped the women's parallel standings by a wide margin. Swiss siblings Philipp and Simon Schoch completed an amazing parlay: year-younger brother Philipp won the Olympic gold medal in PGS, with Simon taking silver; in the World Cup points standings, Simon was the champion, with Philipp in second place.

      Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson failed to medal in Turin, where American Seth Wescott triumphed in the first Olympic snowboardcross (SBX) competition, but Anderson edged teammate Drew Neilson for the men's World Cup SBX title. Canadian women also went one–two in the SBX World Cup, as Dominique Maltais (who finished third in Turin, behind Switzerland's Tanja Frieden and American Lindsey Jacobellis) topped the SBX World Cup rankings, followed by Maelle Ricker. Austrian Stefan Gimpl was the 2006 Big Air champion.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2006


Alpine Skiing.
 American Bode Miller (Miller, Bode ) (see Biographies) won the first 3 races of the Alpine skiing 2004–05 World Cup season—the first skier to do so in the 39-year history of the tour—and 6 of the first 10 events en route to capturing the World Cup overall crown in 2005. He was the first American skier to win a World Cup overall title since Phil Mahre in 1983. Miller also took the World Cup supergiant-slalom (super-G) title and was the gold medalist in downhill and super G at the world championships in Bormio, Italy. For the third straight season, Miller competed in every tour event, running his historic streak to 111 consecutive World Cup races.

      Miller dominated from the start of the season, just holding off Austrian Benjamin Raich for the overall title. Raich, who finished every race in which he competed, chipped away at Miller's points lead late in the season. Miller, however, turned up the heat at the World Cup finals, winning one race and finishing second in two others. Raich finished 194 points off Miller's overall total but skied consistently well enough to earn the slalom and giant slalom (GS) World Cup titles. At the world championships, while Miller won the two speed events but failed to finish in the other events, Raich left with four medals, including gold in slalom and combined. Austrian Hermann Maier reached another milestone in his glittering career when he claimed his 50th World Cup victory. The win moved him into a tie with Italy's Alberto Tomba for second place on the all-time victory list behind Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, who retired in 1989 with 86 World Cup wins.

      The women's World Cup points race was contested by Anja Pärson of Sweden and Croatian superstar Janica Kostelic. In the end, Pärson defended her 2004 overall championship by a mere three points. Her number of victories dropped from 11 in 2004 to 4 in 2005, but she had seven other top-three results. Austrian Renate Götschl earned her second consecutive downhill title, while teammate Michaela Dorfmeister won her first super-G crown. Rising Finnish star Tanja Poutiainen won both the slalom and GS titles. At the world championships in Bormio, it was Kostelic and Pärson battling again in each race—Kostelic won three gold medals (slalom, combined, and downhill), while Pärson took two titles (super G and GS).

Nordic Skiing.
      Norwegian Marit Bjørgen dominated the 2004–05 season in women's cross-country skiing with a stunning display of speed, technique, and power. She won 10 of 22 races, including sprints in both classic and free technique as well as distance events, en route to taking the overall title by an overwhelming 569 points. At the Nordic world championships in Oberstdorf, Ger., Bjørgen won five medals but somehow failed to qualify for the sprint final. For the men, Germany's Axel Teichmann jumped out to a lead early in the season, winning three of his first four World Cup races, and then held on to capture the overall title by 68 points over Frenchman Vincent Vittoz.

      In ski jumping, Finland's Janne Ahonen won 11 of the first 13 World Cup meets—and a record 12 overall—to claim his second straight World Cup title. In 2004 he had won by 10 points over Norway's Roar Ljøklsøy, and in 2005 he beat the Norwegian, who had two wins and eight other top-three finishes, by 275 points. In Nordic combined another Finn, Hannu Manninen, breezed to his second title in a row, this one by nearly 400 points over former champion Ronny Ackermann of Germany, who nonetheless secured two individual golds and a team silver at the world championships.

Freestyle Skiing.
      American Jeremy Bloom, the 2002 World Cup freestyle moguls champion, caught fire in 2004–05 at midseason, stringing together a record six consecutive wins to earn his second World Cup moguls crown. Meanwhile, aerialist Jeret Peterson of the U.S. won the first three events of his career en route to seizing his first aerials World Cup title. On the women's scene, Canadian Jennifer Heil won the moguls title for a second straight season, while Li Nina of China took the women's aerials title.

      At the freestyle world championships, held in Ruka, Fin., Americans Hannah Kearney, a four-time world juniors champion, and Nate Roberts won the moguls gold medals. Another American, Toby Dawson, surged to victory in dual moguls, while Heil won the women's duals title. In the aerials competition, it was 2004 World Cup champion Steve Omischl of Canada and Li taking the gold medals.

       Snowboard cross (SBX) was scheduled to be the new snowboarding event at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and there was plenty of attention paid to the sport at the 2005 snowboard World Cup and world championships. Frenchman Xavier Delerue won the men's World Cup title in SBX, while Austrian Doresia Krings was the women's champion. At the world championships in Whistler, B.C., Americans Seth Wescott and Lindsey Jacobellis were the gold medalists.

      Swiss riders Philipp Schoch and Daniela Meuli won their respective World Cup parallel titles; at the world championships, Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson fired up the home crowd by winning both the men's parallel giant slalom (PGS) and parallel slalom (PSL), while Austrian Manuela Riegler was the women's PGS champion. Meuli took the women's gold medal in PSL. On the World Cup tour, Mathieu Crepel of France was the men's halfpipe champion, and Mero Narita of Japan was the women's halfpipe winner. In Whistler, Finland's Antti Autti won gold in both the halfpipe and the men-only big air events, while French veteran Doriane Vidal took gold in the women's halfpipe.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2005


Alpine Skiing.
      There were several interesting story lines during the 2003–04 Alpine skiing World Cup season: Bode Miller became the first American man to win a World Cup title, the giant slalom (GS), since Phil Mahre won the overall and GS titles in 1983; Austrian Stephan Eberharter vetoed retirement to see if he could win one more World Cup downhill title at age 34; and the women's scene was unexpectedly wide open after Croatian sensation Janica Kostelic (winner of four Olympic medals in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002 and two golds at the 2003 world championships, as well as the 2003 World Cup overall title) was sidelined after more knee surgeries. Nothing was more compelling during the season, however, than the return of Hermann Maier, a colossus for Austria before a fluke motorcycle mishap in August 2001 nearly cost him a leg and derailed his hopes for the 2002 Winter Olympics. After missing the entire 2001–02 season and most of the next year, Maier, who was recognized as the world's finest supergiant slalom (super G) racer, returned to form. He won three times and posted two other top-five results as he stormed to his fifth super-G title and edged two-time overall champion Eberharter by 42 points (1,265–1,223) for his fourth World Cup overall crown. Eberharter captured the downhill title, with American Daron Rahlves as runner-up in both downhill and super G.

      The women's schedule turned into a rout by Sweden's Anja Pärson. Previously known as a slalom/GS racer, Pärson added super G and downhill for 2003–04, won 11 races (6 slaloms and 5 giant slaloms), and breezed to the women's title with 1,561 points. She also took the slalom and GS titles, while Austrian Renate Götschl, the overall runner-up (1,344 points), posted six victories and was downhill and super-G champion.

Nordic Skiing.
      Norway's Marit Bjørgen, the reigning sprint world champion in cross-country skiing, went into the 2003–04 season seeking to extend her dominance to distance races. Although she did not achieve her goal, she gave Italy's Gabriella Paruzzi a mighty challenge for the overall World Cup title. Bjørgen won seven sprints—in both classic and free technique—but Paruzzi used consistency to become women's overall champion. Paruzzi won three times and was in the top five 14 times to finish with 1,228 points to Bjørgen's 1,139. René Sommerfeldt led the resurgent Germans to three of the top five spots in the men's standings. Sommerfeldt won just 2 of the 25 World Cup races, but he was a top-five finisher nine other times and collected 956 points, while defending World Cup champion Mathias Fredriksson of Sweden won three races and was a distant runner-up with 606 points.

      Finland's Hannu Manninen took charge during the second half of the season to take the Nordic combined title from defending champion Ronny Ackermann of Germany, while the World Cup jumping champion was another Finn, Janne Ahonen, who held off Norwegian veteran Roar Ljoekelsoey. Though Ljoekelsoey won five of the last nine jump meets, Ahonen had 1,316 points to 1,306 points for the Norwegian.

Freestyle Skiing.
      Since the 2002 Olympics, freestyle skiing had added halfpipe and ski cross (SX) to the standard aerials and moguls (including dual moguls) lineup. Olympic aerials champion Alisa Camplin of Australia, who also took the 2003 world championship, won seven times and breezed to her second consecutive World Cup title. Meanwhile, Canadian Steve Omischl, Camplin's longtime boyfriend, dominated the men's scene, winning six times en route to the aerial title. Another Canadian, Jenn Heil, was women's moguls champion, and Finland's Olympic champion, Janne Lahtela, held off American Toby Dawson for the men's moguls championship. French skiers swept halfpipe: Mathias Wecxsteen edged teammate Laurent Favre in the men's race, and Marie Martinod earned the women's title. Ophélie David made it three titles for France, winning in women's ski cross, while Swede Jesper Brugge barely defeated yet another Frenchman, Enak Gavaggio, for the men's SX crown.

      In a winter with no world championships, the 2003–04 snowboarding competition was scattered more than usual, with World Cup competitions as well as non-Cup events taking place throughout the U.S. The two biggest events were the U.S. Open and ESPN television's Winter X Games, both of which were dominated by Americans. The X Games saw rising star Steve Fisher edge Olympic silver medalist Danny Kass for the men's halfpipe gold medal, while talented teen Hannah Teter beat Kelly Clark, the Olympic champion, in the women's halfpipe contest. In snowboard cross (SBX), the newest Olympic snowboard event, Swiss rider Ueli Kestenholz edged Seth Wescott, and Lindsey Jacobellis topped French great Karine Ruby. At the Open, Kass beat Fisher in the halfpipe, with Clark defeating Tricia Byrnes. On the World Cup tour, Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson won his fourth straight overall title, and Julie Pomagalski of France won her first; Austrian Siegfried Grabner and Daniela Meusli of Switzerland prevailed in parallel competition; Frenchman Xavier Delerue and Ruby captured the SBX titles; and big air was won by Sweden's Simon Ax and Japan's Soko Yamaoko.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2004


Alpine Skiing.
      In 2003 Austrian Stephan Eberharter collected three World Cup titles for the second straight season, but it was American Bode Miller who lit up race courses and race crowds worldwide. Eberharter, who seldom skied slalom, took command at the start of the season, winning the opening race, but he missed three weeks with a knee injury. Miller started skiing in speed events—downhill and supergiant slalom (super G)—regularly, and in January he pulled ahead briefly. Eberharter surged to the overall title with 1,333 points, 233 points ahead of Miller, who faltered in the final month. Eberharter had nine wins and was first or second in four of the final six races. For the second winter in a row, Miller had the best season for an American man since Phil Mahre won the overall and giant slalom (GS) titles in 1983. Miller also won two gold medals and a silver at the world championships in St. Moritz, Switz., the best showing ever by an American man.

      Michael von Grünigen of Switzerland retired at season's end after winning the World Cup GS title. The slalom championship, the first Alpine World Cup title won by a Finn, went to Kalle Palander. Austrian icon Hermann Maier, who missed the Olympic season following a motorcycle accident, returned in mid-January 2003 with a rod stabilizing his injured leg. He won a super-G World Cup event and a silver medal at the world championships before quitting to give his leg more time to heal.

      Croatian Janica Kostelic did not win until the third World Cup race of the 2002–03 season. Thereafter, she won six races and her second overall title, as well as the slalom title. At the world championships she captured the combined and the slalom; when her older brother, Ivica, won the men's slalom, it marked the first brother-sister champions at a single championship.

      Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister won the World Cup downhill championship and took super-G gold at the world championships. Carole Montillet of France was the World Cup super-G champion, while Sweden's Anja Pärson edged Italy's Karen Putzer by one point in the GS.

Nordic Skiing.
      Norway's Bente Skari stormed to 14 World Cup victories en route to her second straight cross-country championship. She won the two races she entered at the world championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, before withdrawing due to illness. Then she retired. (See Biographies (Skari, Bente ).)

      Mathias Fredriksson gave Sweden its first cross-country World Cup king since Gunde Svan in 1989. Not quite as big a surprise was the announcement by Olympic and World Cup champion Thomas Alsgaard that he was retiring.

      Poland's Adam Malysz cruised to his third consecutive ski-jumping title and won both gold medals at the world championships. After Ronny Ackermann of Germany won the individual Nordic combined event and Felix Gottwald lifted Austria in the team event, American Johnny Spillane outskied Gottwald and Ackermann to win the Nordic combined sprint. It was the first Nordic gold medal at an Olympics or a world championship by an American skier.

      In June, because of a failed drug test, Russian Larisa Lazutina was stripped of the two silver medals she won at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Bronze medalists Beckie Scott of Canada (in the 5-km event) and Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic (15 km) were moved up to silver. In December, Russian Olga Danilova's 5-km gold medal was taken away also, and Scott was catapulted into the top slot. In the same ruling, Johann Mühlegg of Spain lost two other gold medals, for the 10-km pursuit and the 30-km mass start races (both he and Lazutina had already been forced to give up medals during the Games).

Freestyle Skiing.
      Former gymnast Alisa Camplin of Australia, who gained an Olympic gold medal in 2002 before she had won a World Cup aerials event, filled in her résumé during 2002–03. She won three World Cup contests, the World Cup aerial title, and the gold medal at the world championships in Deer Valley, Utah. Dmitry Arkhipov of Russia, who entered the season with one victory in his career, won three events, the World Cup overall and aerial titles, and aerial gold at the world championships.

      In moguls Americans Travis Cabral and Shannon (“Sparky”) Bahrke captured the World Cup titles. Finland's Janne Lahtela and Austrian Margarita Marbler, respectively, took the men's and women's dual moguls titles. Skiercross (“roller derby on skis”) debuted in 2003; Japan's Hiroomi Takizawa won the men's title, and Valentine Scuotto of France was the women's champion. Mogul specialist Kari Traa of Norway earned enough points for her second consecutive overall title.

      American skiers collected six medals at the 2003 world championships—most notably, Jeremy Bloom, who played football for the University of Colorado and joined the World Cup with minimal on-snow training, won gold in the men's dual moguls and silver in moguls. Traa captured both women's moguls titles, while Mikko Ronkainen of Finland was the men's moguls champion.

      Things cooled in the 2002–03 snowboarding season, as most American 2002 Olympic medalists took a low-key approach—Olympic halfpipe champion Ross Powers got married and became a father, although he won the heralded U.S. Open superpipe contest again in 2003, and women's halfpipe gold medalist Kelly Clark had preseason knee surgery and competed sparingly. Karine Ruby of France won a third straight overall World Cup championship, as did Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson. World Cup titles in parallel went to Ursula Bruhin of Switzerland and Mathieu Bozzetto of France. Halfpipe titles were won by Germany's Xavier Hoffmann and Manuela Laura Pesko of Switzerland, while Xavier Delerue of France and Ruby won the snowboardcross titles. The men-only big air World Cup championship went to Jukka Eratuli of Finland.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2003


Alpine Skiing.
      In 2002 the Austrian men's team did not miss a beat when Hermann Maier, who had won four World Cup titles in each of the two previous seasons, was sidelined with a broken leg from a preseason motorcycle accident. Stephan Eberharter, who had built a large following for the classy way in which he had gone from world champion to national team castoff after a couple of knee surgeries and then returned to the team, stepped out of Maier's immense shadow during the year. He captured three World Cup titles (men's overall, downhill, and supergiant slalom [super G])—and scored an Olympic hat trick with gold in giant slalom (GS), silver in super G, and bronze in downhill at the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

      Eberharter, second to Maier in 2001, overwhelmed the opposition in 2002. He won 10 races—six downhills, three super Gs, and a giant slalom—in grabbing the overall title with 1,702 points. He finished 606 points ahead of Norwegian runner-up Kjetil Andre Aamodt, which meant that even if Aamodt had won six races (100 points for first) in which Eberharter did not compete, he could not have caught him.

      Slalom and GS, the so-called technical events, were more competitive. Frenchman Frederic Covili won the 2001–02 season-opening GS en route to claiming the World Cup crown, narrowly beating Benjamin Raich of Austria (with Eberharter third). Slalom was a duel between Croatian Ivica Kostelic and American Bode Miller, who went from turning in no World Cup slalom finishes in the previous two seasons to giving the best U.S. performance in slalom and GS since Phil Mahre in 1983. Kostelic finished 51 points ahead of Miller (611–560). Miller's storybook season—three slalom wins and another in GS—saw him finish not only second in slalom but fourth overall.

      In Salt Lake City Janica Kostelic, Ivica's sister, became the first competitor to earn four Alpine skiing medals at a single Games. (See Biographies (Kostelic, Janica ).) She won gold in the slalom, the GS, and the combined event and silver in the super G. Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria was the women's overall World Cup champion. She won five races during the year, compiling 1,271 points to second-place finisher and teammate Renate Goetschl's 931. Strangely, Dorfmeister did not win a title in any single event. Her consistency, with 15 top-six results, gave her the overall crown, however. She was second to Italy's Isolde Kostner in downhill, third behind German Hilde Gerg in super G, and second to Sonja Nef of Switzerland in GS. The slalom title went to Laure Pequegnot of France, whose first World Cup win came at Copper Mountain, Colorado, with American Kristina Koznick second in the final slalom points.

Nordic Skiing.
      Standouts in Nordic skiing at the Winter Games included Samppa Lajunen of Finland, who took home three gold medals after placing first in the Nordic combined and Nordic combined sprint events and helping the Finnish squad take the team combined competition. Swiss ski jumper and Harry Potter look-alike Simon Ammann became one of the biggest stars of the Games after he came out of nowhere to win both the 90-m and 120-m individual events. In relay competition the Norwegian men dominated the 40-km race, while Germany's women's team captured the 20-km gold.

      Three Nordic skiers—Johann Mühlegg of Spain and two Russians, Larisa Lazutina and Olga Danilova—were ejected from the Games on the last day when they tested positive for darbepoetin (a drug designed to increase the production of red blood cells); Mühlegg and Lazutina (who had been barred from an earlier race when a blood test showed elevated hemoglobin levels) were stripped of the medals they had won that day.

      Sweden's Per Elofsson claimed his second straight World Cup cross-country title, holding off fast-closing Thomas Alsgaard of Norway by three points after 20 races. Norwegian Bente Skari started fast and finished fast with seven victories as she earned her third World Cup crown in four years. With the top Russian women skipping the final month of the season, keeping their heads down in the aftermath of the Olympic doping scandal (and missing six races), Skari was unstoppable.

      Thumb-sized ski jumper Adam Malysz of Poland rolled to his second straight World Cup title, winning seven events and finishing in the top three in 14 of 20 meets. German Sven Hannawald became the first skier to win all four meets in the renowned Springertournee held in Germany and Austria, but he could not keep up with Malysz.

      Ronny Ackermann of Germany won five Nordic combined events and was second or third in 10 others as he earned his first combined title. Austrian Felix Gottwald ran out of steam after the Olympics and could not hold off Ackermann, who finished with 2,110 points to 1,986 for Gottwald, the 2001 combined king. For the first time in history, two American skiers finished in the top 10, with Todd Lodwick placing 6th and Bill Demong 10th.

Freestyle Skiing.
      The American “Killer B's”—aerialist Eric Bergoust and moguls skier Jeremy Bloom—entered the 2002 season at different levels. Bergoust, the 1998 Olympic champion and 2001 World Cup title winner, was the poster boy for aerials success. Bloom, meanwhile, had put a football scholarship to the University of Colorado on hold to chase his Olympic dream.

      By season's end Bergoust had won three more contests to clinch his second straight World Cup crown. Bloom finished ninth at the Winter Games but rebounded to win the World Cup moguls title, notching a victory in the World Cup competition at Lake Placid, N.Y. Kari Traa of Norway, winner of the Olympic gold in women's moguls in 2002, later breezed to the World Cup title, with Americans Hannah Hardaway, Shannon Bahrke, and Ann Battelle finishing second, third, and fourth, respectively. In dual moguls Richard Gay of France won the men's title, while Christine Gerg of Germany was the women's champion.

      The snowboarding competition at the Winter Olympics was staged at Utah's Park City Mountain Resort. Americans dominated the halfpipe event, with Ross Powers taking the men's gold over teammate Danny Kass and Kelly Clark winning the women's gold over Doriane Vidal of France. Philipp Schoch of Switzerland was the gold medalist in the men's GS, while France's Isabelle Blanc won the women's GS.

      Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson and Karine Ruby of France were the World Cup overall champions. Anderson also captured the Fédération Internationale de Ski World Cup snowboardcross title, while Austrian Doresia Krings won the women's snowboardcross. In the halfpipe competition Nicola Pederzolli of Austria was the top woman, and Germany's Jan Michaelis claimed the men's title.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2002


Alpine Skiing.
      In 2000–01, for the second straight season, Austrian icon Hermann (“the Herminator”) Maier won four World Cup titles—overall, downhill, supergiant slalom (super G), and giant slalom (GS). Although he did not win any gold medals at the 2001 Alpine world championships in St. Anton, Austria—and failed to capture the World Cup slalom crown, which went to teammate Benjamin Raich—the Herminator did not miss much else. He finished more than 740 points ahead of teammate Stephan Eberharter for the overall title, collecting a record-tying 13 World Cup victories. In August Maier broke his leg seriously in a motorcycle accident, and it was uncertain if the defending Olympic gold medalist in super G and GS would compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

      On the women's side, Croatian teenager Janica Kostelic earned her first two World Cup titles, despite having injured ligaments in her left knee in the final month of the season. Austrian Renate Götschl fell in several races and failed to defend her overall crown. Kostelic, who later underwent three knee surgeries, had won the first eight World Cup slaloms and cruised to the slalom title before edging Götschl in overall points. Isolde Kostner of Italy won the women's downhill title; France's Régine Cavagnoud was the super G champion; and Sonja Nef of Switzerland captured the GS title.

      The world championships started with heavy snowstorms—snow was piled three stories high along some runs—and a surprise gold medal in the men's super G for American Daron Rahlves. Austria dominated, as expected, collecting 14 medals though only 3 golds. Michaela Dorfmeister led an Austrian medals sweep in the women's downhill; “local boy” Mario Matt took the men's slalom championship on the final day; and Hannes Trinkl won the men's downhill title. Swiss great Michael von Grünigen won the GS with his usual textbook display of smooth skiing. Martina Ertl of Germany sparkled in the combined, despite having injured her right knee a month earlier. Foreshadowing the World Cup, Cavagnoud won the super G gold medal and Nef claimed the GS title. The world champion in slalom was Sweden's Anja Paerson. In October the outlook for the 2002 Olympics changed again when Cavagnoud was killed during a high-speed training run. (See Obituaries (Cavagnoud, Regine ).)

Nordic Skiing.
      The overriding story for the 2000–01 Nordic season was the doping scandal at the world championships in Lahti, Fin. Six Finns—including national icons Mika Myllylä and Harri Kirvesniemi—were caught using a banned drug, hydroxyethyl starch, a blood thinner that could boost endurance and could mask other illegal drugs. Myllylä and Kirvesniemi retired; Jari Isometsä and Janne Immonen received two-year suspensions. Virpi Kuitunen, who had won the “pursuit” gold medal at the championships, and Milla Jauho received three-month suspensions when an arbitrator ruled that they may have been innocent victims of coaches and doctors. The Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) had caught Isometsä and Immonen in routine postrace drug tests. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had uncovered the other four in a surprise test after the relays. The FIS hired WADA to certify future drug tests, and stricter controls were being implemented before the 2002 Olympics.

      In the last two weeks of the season, Russian Yulia Chepalova overtook two-time champion Bente Skari (formerly Martinsen) of Norway for the women's World Cup cross-country title. Per Elofsson, despite a month off to prepare for the world championships, gave Sweden its first men's crown since the great Gunde Svan's win in 1989.

      Polish ski jumper Adam Malysz ran off five straight ski-jumping wins in January and upended two-time World Cup champion Martin Schmitt of Germany. At the worlds Malysz won the 90-m gold medal, with Schmitt taking silver. Then Schmitt took the 120-m title, and Malysz was silver medalist. Felix Gottwald of Austria, one of the fastest cross-country skiers in Nordic combined, finally mastered his ski jumping and surged to the World Cup combined title. Norway's Bjarte Engen Vik repeated as combined gold medalist at the world championships and retired after the season.

Freestyle Skiing.
      American aerialist Eric Bergoust, who already had won everything else in his sport, won the first two World Cup events and edged teammate Joe Pack by four points for his first World Cup title. Jacqui Cooper of Australia also won the first two competitions and breezed to her third straight women's aerials crown. At the world championships at Blackcomb, B.C., Canadian Veronika Bauer won the women's aerials championship; Belarusian Aleksey Grishin collected the men's title.

      Norwegian Kari Traa secured a unique trifecta: the World Cup moguls title plus world championship gold in moguls and dual moguls. Mikko Ronkainen made it three straight World Cup titles for Finnish men, winning both the World Cup and the world championship title.

      The many-prismed world of snowboarding featured World Cup tours run by the FIS and the International Snowboard Federation (ISF) plus the U.S. Open and a variety of non-Cup contests. As a result, some athletes rode both World Cup circuits, some rode just one, and others stayed in the U.S. and competed in non-World Cup events.

      On the FIS tour Karine Ruby of France, the most dominant woman rider for years, won two gold medals at the world championships plus the World Cup overall, GS, and snowboardcross titles; Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson was the World Cup overall champion and gold medalist in the GS at the worlds. On the ISF tour Olympic champion Gian Simmen of Switzerland was the men's halfpipe titleholder. Norway's Stine Brun Kjeldaas won the first three FIS women's halfpipes (en route to finishing second for the season), then switched to the ISF tour and easily won that halfpipe title.

Paul Robbins

▪ 2001


Alpine Skiing.
      Austria's Hermann Maier swept three individual men's Alpine World Cup titles and claimed a historic overall World Cup championship in 2000. The 1998 Olympic gold medalist had already sewn up the overall and supergiant slalom (super G) victories prior to the World Cup finale in Bormio, Italy, in March, and yet he won the final super G in astounding fashion, surpassing his nearest competitor by two seconds—a World Cup record. Having already destroyed Swiss skier Paul Accola's regular-season points record of 1,699, Maier rode the win to reach the magical 2,000-point mark.The previous day Maier had claimed his first World Cup downhill crown with a second-place finish behind teammate Hannes Trinkl.

      Austrians dominated the giant slalom (GS) and super G leader boards at the men's finals, finishing one-two-three in both events. Norwegian Kjetil André Aamodt, the men's overall champion in 1994, claimed the slalom championship on the strength of a sixth-place finish on the final day of the season. Daron Rahlves became the first American man since 1984 to win back-to-back World Cup downhills when he won two races in 24 hours on the 1994 Olympic course in Kvitfjell, Nor.

      Austria's Renate Götschl already had won the World Cup super G crown before going to Bormio, but she clinched the title as overall women's champion when she won the final super G race of the winter. Götschl's teammate Michaela Dorfmeister clinched the World Cup GS title. Slovenia's Spela Pretnar captured the women's slalom World Cup with four wins during the season. It was the first World Cup crown for Pretnar, who had considered retiring after the 1999 season. American Kristina Koznick won the last two World Cup slalom races, the only U.S. women's victories of the season.

      In the women's World Cup downhill standings, Götschl was narrowly defeated by Germany's Regina Häusl, who surpassed the Austrian by a scant five points. The World Cup win was bittersweet for Häusl; as she crossed the finish line of the final race, she fell hard, broke her leg, and had to be evacuated to a hospital. Amazingly, Häusl failed to claim a single downhill victory in 1999–2000, winning the World Cup on the strength of five second-place finishes.

Nordic Skiing.
      Bente Martinsen of Norway retained the women's cross-country championship, dislodging Kristina Smigun of Estonia from the top ranking with a win in the 5-km classic race at the World Cup finals in Santa Caterina, Italy. German-born Johann Mühlegg of Spain earned the men's overall cross country championship.

      In ski jumping Martin Schmitt of Germany set a record with 11 World Cup victories—including four weekends in which he won both events—to capture his second consecutive World Cup title. On the final weekend of the season in Planica, Slovenia, the world distance record was reset twice during a ski-flying competition. Austria's Thomas Hörl set a world record in practice, with a 224.5-m (736-ft) leap. Two days later his teammate Andreas Goldberger soared 225 m (738 ft) in competition. Samppa Lajunen of Finland won the men's Nordic combined title, upending two-time champion Bjarte Engen Vik of Norway.

Freestyle Skiing.
      Australia's Jacqui Cooper dominated the aerials competition with wins at four of the seven World Cup events and claimed the women's aerials World Cup title. Tied for first place in the men's aerials competition going into the finals, Aleksey Grishin of Belarus, who won the first two World Cup matches of the season, fell to Canada's Nicholas Fontaine, who won the finale and claimed the title.

      Janne Lahtela of Finland claimed his second World Cup moguls championship and his first in dual moguls by winning the final competitions. The duals win was controversial, however. Canada's Stéphane Rochon, who led the standings going into the finals, lost his second-round match to Finland's Sami Mustonen after missing his start. The Canadian's protest was rejected, and when Lahtela won the event he also clinched the title. Ann Batelle of the U.S. won her second straight moguls title and was runner-up to Norway's Kari Traa for the dual moguls crown.

      With an astounding eight wins in parallel slalom, including a victory shared with teammate Nicholas Huet at the World Cup finals held on March 18 in Livigno, Italy, Matthieu Bozzetto of France claimed the men's overall World Cup championship. Stefan Kaltschütz of Austria, the 1999 GS champion, defended his number one ranking with four podium finishes during the eight-event season.

      Margherita Pirini celebrated her GS title on home soil after winning three World Cup events, beating out France's Karine Ruby. Manuela Riegler of Austria earned the women's overall championship.

      In halfpipe Thomas Johansson of Sweden claimed top honours despite missing the last three World Cup competitions owing to injury. After winning five World Cup halfpipe competitions, Tricia Byrnes of the U.S. elected not to compete at Livigno and lost a chance for her second straight title. Sabine Wehr-Hasler of Germany moved ahead of Byrnes in World Cup points on the strength of her winning performance at the finals.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2000


Alpine Skiing.
      In 1999 Lasse Kjus (see Biographies (Kjus, Lasse )) and Kjetil Andre Aamodt, a pair of powerful Norwegian skiers whose friendship had dated from childhood, produced one of the tightest races in history for the men's World Cup overall championship. It lasted into the final race of the season, when Kjus outskied his boyhood chum in the giant slalom race on March 14 at Sierra Nevada, Spain. Kjus, who also finished as the 1999 World Cup downhill champion, finished 23 points ahead of Aamodt. The race for the women's World Cup title was hardly so competitive. Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria dominated the women's tour, winning the giant slalom and supergiant slalom (super G) championships on her way to a huge 477-point margin of victory for the overall crown.

      The highlight moment of Kjus's remarkable season came on February 14, the final day of the world Alpine skiing championships at Vail, Colo. After he finished second in the men's slalom to the surprising winner, Kelle Palander of Finland, Kjus became the first skier to win medals in all five Alpine events since the world championship format was expanded in 1987. Kjus had begun his two-gold, three-silver haul on February 2, when he tied Austria's Hermann Meier for the super G gold medal in the closest ski race ever witnessed. The electronic timing caught both skiers in 1 min 14.53 sec—the first time a world championship race had ended in a dead heat—and only 0.01 sec separated the time of the gold medal winners from that of Hans Knauss of Austria, who finished third.

      Meier, the Winter Olympic and World Cup champion in 1998, struck gold again when he held off Kjus to win the downhill in Vail on February 6. Meier also won the super G title for the World Cup season but wound up third in the overall standings after some of his performances were limited by a back problem. Palander became the first Finn to win a medal in a recognized Alpine event when he finished 0.11 sec ahead of Kjus in the slalom. The other world championship gold medals went to Bruno Kernen of Switzerland in the downhill combined and to Aamodt for the combined slalom.

      Meissnitzer heightened her 1999 success by leading Austria's domination of the world championships. She led an Austrian sweep of the super G on February 3, capturing the first gold medal of her career. She came back eight days later to become the first Austrian woman in 37 years to win the world championship giant slalom. Austria got two other gold-medal performances, from Renate Götschl in the downhill and downhill combined, and finished atop the women's medal standings with 13, four more than Norway. The U.S. team was shut out, and no other nation won more than two medals. On February 13 at Vail, Zali Skeggal of Australia shot through the women's slalom in not quite 94 sec to become the first skier from the Southern Hemisphere to win an Alpine championships gold medal.

Nordic Skiing.
      The 43rd Nordic world championships were contested at Ramsau, Austria, on February 19–28 by more than 400 athletes from 35 nations. Mika Myllyla of Finland captured individual gold medals for the 30-km freestyle, the 10 km, and the 50-km classic and missed another gold medal by only half a ski length in the 15-km pursuit race. Stefania Belmondo of Italy won her first gold medal in six years in the women's 15 km. She also took the 10-km race but fell to eighth behind winner Bente Martinsen of Norway in the 5-km classic.

      Austria pulled off a major upset on February 26 when Christian Hoffman, with a desperate closing burst, beat Norway's Thomas Alsgaard on the last leg of the men's 4 10-km relay. Hoffman's effort was only 0.02 sec better than that of Alsgaard, but it gave Austria its first cross-country gold medal in a major competition and ended Norway's four-meet winning streak.

      Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway finished the season with his sixth overall Nordic World Cup title, while Martinsen captured her first.

Freestyle Skiing.
      U.S. athletes accounted for three gold medals and three bronze medals at the world freestyle skiing championships at Meiringen, Switz., on March 7–14. Ann Battelle, a three-time Olympic skier who had considered retiring in the summer, took the women's moguls in soft snow on March 10. Ian Edmonson, age 41, captured the acro event gold medal one day later, and Eric Bergoust, the 1998 Olympics aerials champion, added the world title to his résumé. Finland swept all the medals in the men's moguls, and Jacqui Cooper of Australia maintained her nation's success in women's aerials.

Ron Reid

      In World Cup snowboarding, Americans demonstrated their mastery of the halfpipe, while Europeans maintained their edge in giant slalom. American Ross Powers, bronze medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and Tommy Czeschin finished first and second, respectively, in the World Cup men's halfpipe standings, while teammates Tricia Byrnes and Kim Stacey finished first and third, respectively, in women's halfpipe, with Doriane Vidal of France in second place. Austria's Stefan Kaltschütz defeated American Jeff Archibald and Mathieu Bozzetto of France in the men's giant slalom standings, while Margherita Parini of Italy led Karine Ruby of France and Sondra Van Ert of the U.S. in women's. At the world championships, held in Berchtesgaden, Ger., in January, American riders Ricky Bower and Kim Stacey took top honours in halfpipe, while Germany's Markus Ebner and Italy's Lidia Trettel dominated the giant slalom course.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 1999


Alpine Skiing.
      In 1998 Hermann "the Herminator" Maier (see BIOGRAPHIES (Maier, Hermann )) became the first Austrian to win the overall Alpine World Cup title since Karl Schranz in 1970. Maier won 10 World Cup events and two individual titles, sweeping the supergiant slalom (super G) races, winning the giant slalom title, and finishing second in the downhill standings.

      In February, however, just three days before he captured gold in the super G at the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, Maier's career appeared to be in jeopardy after he suffered one of the most spectacular crashes in skiing history. Traveling at nearly 105 km/h (65 mph) near the top of the downhill course, Maier lost control and was propelled head-first into the frozen retaining walls. Plowing through two fences, the 26-year-old Austrian miraculously escaped unhurt. Maier's downhill crash opened the gate for France's Jean-Luc Cretier, who edged Norway's Lasse Kjus to win France's first downhill gold since Jean-Claude Killy's 20 years earlier. Overall, the Austrian men captured 8 of a possible 15 Alpine medals.

      Italy's Alberto Tomba failed in his bid to become the first skier to win medals in four different Olympics. He crashed in the giant slalom and finished a disappointing 17th on his first run down the slalom course before dropping out of the event. Tomba's teammate Deborah Compagnoni, by winning the women's giant slalom, became the first skier to win gold in three consecutive Olympics.

      When the snow, fog, and rain relented after dogging skiers and schedule-makers at Nagano for nearly six days, Katja Seizinger of Germany stole the show. By winning the downhill gold, she became the first woman in Winter Olympics history to win consecutive golds in the same event. Seizinger went on to win the combined gold, with her teammates Martina Ertl and Hilde Gerg completing a German sweep of that event. Gerg also won gold in the women's slalom, erasing a 0.6-sec lead held by Compagnoni to win by just 0.06 sec. Zali Steggall captured Australia's first Alpine medal by placing third in the slalom. The German women took home six Alpine medals, and Seizinger's three medals tied a record for most in a single Winter Olympics. American downhiller Picabo Street overcame a serious 1996 knee injury to win the super G over the favoured Germans. Street skied cautiously, however, in her specialty, the downhill, and missed a medal by 0.17 sec. Later Street suffered a season-ending injury in a crash during a World Cup event in Switzerland. Seizinger capped the season with the women's overall World Cup title.

Nordic Skiing.
      Norway ended Japan's six-year reign as Nordic combined champions with a dominant Olympic performance on the ski-jumping half of the event. Bjarte Engen Vik, who won the individual gold, helped bring home the gold in the team event as well, while the host Japanese fell to fifth. The Japanese, however, led by Masahiko "Happy" Harada (see BIOGRAPHIES (Harada, Masahiko )) pleased the home crowd by winning team gold in ski jumping.

      Norway's cross-country legend Bjørn Daehlie (see BIOGRAPHIES (Daehlie, Bjorn )) established records for most Olympic gold medals (8) and most medals in the Winter Games (12) by winning three golds, but the baton may have been passed to his teammate Thomas Alsgaard, who edged Daehlie for the 15-km pursuit gold medal at Nagano and then won his first World Cup title.

      Russia's Larissa Lazutina medaled in all five women's Olympic cross-country races, capturing three golds. On the World Cup circuit, Lazutina rode the wave of her Olympic success by winning the last two events of the season to surpass Norway's Bente Martinsen for the overall title.

Freestyle Skiing.
      The U.S. captured three of a possible four gold medals in one of the most spectacular events of the Nagano Olympics. Jonny Moseley of the U.S. won gold with his signature "360 Mute Grab" at the end of a flawless moguls run. Moseley's golden stunt, which involved grabbing his inside ski while making a complete spin in the air, pushed him past Janne Lahtela and Sami Mustonen, who took home silver and bronze, respectively, for Finland. Americans Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone won the top spots in the aerial finals. Stone, who nearly quit the sport after suffering a series of back injuries, avenged a disappointing finish at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Nor., in which she failed to qualify for the final.

      The youthfulness and exuberance that propelled snowboarding from a North American sideshow event to full-medal status for the first time at the 1998 Olympics also managed to give the sport a black eye. Canadian men's giant slalom gold medalist Ross Rebagliatti was temporarily stripped of his medal after testing positive for marijuana. Although his medal was later restored, Rebagliatti's brush with the law overshadowed some remarkable performances and stigmatized a sport composed mainly of teens and young adults. Switzerland's Gian Simmen captured the men's half-pipe gold by nearly three points over Daniel Franck of Norway and Ross Powers of the U.S., while Germany's Nicola Thost edged Norway's Stine Brun Kjeldaas by 0.4 point for the women's gold. As expected, Karine Ruby of France won gold in the women's giant slalom.


▪ 1998


Alpine Skiing.
      The 1997 world championships enjoyed favourable snow conditions in Sestriere, Italy, particularly welcome after the difficulties experienced during recent years. Deborah Compagnoni virtually deposed Alberto Tomba as Italy's skiing superstar by winning both the women's slalom and giant slalom, the only racer at the meeting to gain more than one title. Hers was a commendable comeback in a career fraught with injuries.

      Another Italian, Isolde Kostner, added to the home crowd's delight by successfully defending the supergiant slalom (super G) title; her championship a year earlier was the first by an Italian woman since 1932. In her 11th season Hilary Lindh of the United States atoned for the absence of her injured titleholding compatriot, Picabo Street, by winning the downhill. The combined title went to Renate Götschl of Austria, who unexpectedly outpointed the favourite, Katja Seizinger of Germany.

      Three of the five men's events were won by Norwegians, Atle Skaardal retaining the super G, Tom Stiansen claiming the slalom despite a late surge from Tomba, and Kjetil Andre Aamodt emphasizing his versatility by taking the combined. Bruno Kernen gave Switzerland its first gold medal in four years by upsetting the favoured racers in the downhill, and another Swiss, Michael von Grünigen, was a less-surprising giant slalom victor.

      Appreciated more than the world championship meeting because it reflected a season's consistency of form, the 31st Alpine World Cup series suffered minimally from snow problems, thanks to an early start in reliable conditions in North America. Luc Alphand, ranking first in the downhill and super G, won the overall men's trophy at the last tournament when runner-up Aamodt failed to finish high enough to overtake him in the slalom at Vail, Colo. The first French champion since Jean-Claude Killy in 1968, Alphand also became the first downhill specialist to win the cup since Karl Schranz of Austria in 1970.

      Norwegians and Swedes, once prominent only in Nordic skiing, were becoming more numerous in Alpine events. Emphasizing this development, Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg became the first Scandinavian to win the women's crown, comfortably ahead of Seizinger, her predecessor and closest rival. Finishing first in the slalom, Wiberg demonstrated her ability in contrasting disciplines by placing fourth in the downhill. The concurrently decided Nations Cup was won by the Austrian men and German women.

      Because of recurring knee injuries, Marc Girardelli, an Austrian-born skier representing Luxembourg, reluctantly announced his retirement at 33 after a distinguished 17-year career. He was the overall World Cup champion five times and won 46 cup races plus four gold, four silver, and three bronze medals in six world championships. Tomba, another veteran expected to quit, pledged to compete at one more Winter Olympics in 1998. A bizarre moment occurred during the season when the International Ski Federation belatedly awarded France's Marielle Goitschel a gold medal for the 1966 world championship downhill. The woman who had beaten her, Erika Schinegger of Austria, subsequently became Erik after surgery.

Nordic Skiing.
      At the world championships in Trondheim, Nor., Bjørn Daehlie, on home terrain, and Yelena Vyalbe (seeIOGRAPHIES (Vyalbe, Yelena )) of Russia were dominant in the cross-country men's and women's events, respectively. It was Dæhlie's fifth overall title in six years, and Vyalbe won all five gold medals, the first person ever to accomplish this.

      In the 18th Nordic World Cup series, Dæhlie and Vyalbe also proved the most successful during the 15 tournaments. Primoz Peterka of Slovenia ranked ahead of Germany's Dieter Thoma in the Jumping World Cup, and the separate Combined World Cup title was comfortably won by Samppa Lajunen of Finland.

      Several major venues, notably Planica, Slovenia; Kulm, Austria; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ger.; Sapporo, Japan; and Lahti, Fin., offered improved jumping facilities during the year. The spectacular visual appeal of this sport resulted in increased international television coverage.

Freestyle Skiing.
      An appreciably higher degree of skill and greater media support accompanied the 18th Freestyle World Cup series, with 11 sites serving as host of 74 men's and women's events, culminating in a final at HundfjŠllet, Swed. Darcy Downs of Canada and Stacey Blumer of the U.S. won, respectively, the men's and women's overall championships. Canada gained the Nations Cup, ahead of the U.S. and France.

      The biennial world championships successfully tested the new Olympic facilities in Nagano, Japan. The men's titles went to Fabrice Becker of France (acro) and Canadians Jean-Luc Brassard (moguls) and Nicolas Fontaine (aerials). The women's winners were Oksana Kushenko of Russia (acro), Candice Gilg of France (moguls), and Kirstie Marshall of Australia (aerials).


▪ 1997


Alpine Skiing.
      The world championships, postponed for the first time the previous year because of a lack of snow at Sierra Nevada, Spain, were successfully held at the same place in February 1996. After a decade of trying, Alberto Tomba of Italy won gold medals in both the slalom and giant slalom, duplicating his double at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alta. Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg added yet another triumph to his impressive list of career successes by clinching his third combined title. Winner of a record five World Cups and at least one medal in every world championship since 1985, Girardelli achieved a remarkable triumph of nerve and determination in an injury-ridden career that included 13 knee operations.

      Atle Skaardal, a prominent Norwegian skier for more than a decade without winning a world title, finally succeeded in the supergiant slalom (super G) just four days short of his 30th birthday. Patrick Ortlieb of Austria won a disappointing downhill that favoured the first dozen to descend, after which the course became so slushy that the later starters had no chance.

      Sharing Tomba's dominance was Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg, affirming her status as the leading women's all-rounder by adding the slalom title to that of the combined event. Deborah Compagnoni, despite only six weeks of preparation following a knee operation, claimed another title for Italy in the women's giant slalom. When Isolde Kostner triumphed in the super G, Italians had won 4 of the tournament's 10 titles. Kostner's and Compagnoni's victories were the first for Italian women since 1932. Picabo Street (see BIOGRAPHIES (Street, Picabo )) became the first U.S. skier to win the downhill.

      The 30th Alpine World Cup series thrived in more plentiful snow conditions than in the previous season. Tomba, the 1995 victor, made it clear early that he had no intention of trying to do so again, switching his priority to the world championships. Lasse Kjus of Norway and Germany's Katja Seizinger won the men's and women's overall titles, respectively, each for the first time.

      Hard-pressed all the way by the Austrian runner-up, Günther Mader, Kjus won races in three disciplines but did not achieve the top ranking in any. Michael von Grünigen of Switzerland headed the giant slalom list and Skaardal the super G, with Luc Alphand of France winning the downhill and his compatriot Sébastien Amiez the slalom. In the women's disciplines Seizinger was the highest scorer in the super G, Street in the downhill, Elfi Eder of Austria in the slalom, and Martina Ertl of Germany in the giant slalom.

Nordic Skiing.
      Unlike the Alpine competitors, the Nordic skiers did not have a world championship tournament in 1996 and thus were able to focus fully on the 17th Nordic World Cup. In that competition Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway and Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakstan continued their supremacy. Dæhlie retained the overall title, his fourth in five years, with runner-up Smirnov denied a chance to clinch a third success in six seasons because of illness before the final 50 km. Each won 6 of the season's 15 events.

      Manuela Di Centa of Italy overcame ill health to recapture the women's trophy she had won in 1994, narrowly preventing the Russian defending champion, Yelena Vyalbe, from gaining a fourth victory in six years. The separate Combined World Cup prize was won by Knut Apeland of Norway and the Jumping World Cup resulted in a third consecutive victory for Andreas Goldberger of Austria.

Freestyle Skiing.
      In the 17th Freestyle World Cup series, Jon Moseley of the U.S. successfully defended the men's title in only his second full season, comfortably outpointing runner-up David Belhumeur of Canada. The women's trophy was retaken by Katherina Kubenk of Canada, with Donna Weinbrecht of the U.S. second. (HOWARD BASS)

▪ 1996

      Belief in global warming seemed to become unavoidable in skiing circles in 1995, when exceptionally warm winter weather played havoc with both competitive and leisure skiing. The long history of the International Ski Federation probably had never seen a more catastrophic season. Television ratings confirmed that viewers were not put off, however, because organizers somehow managed to transmit competitions at the times advertised, even though the events may have been held at a changed venue or in a different discipline.

Alpine Skiing.
      For the first time the world championships, scheduled for Sierra Nevada, Spain, had to be postponed for a year because of insufficient snow. The 29th Alpine World Cup series overcame the problem by switching sites and by using artificially made snow. Interest in the series was heightened by the popularity of the men's and women's overall winners, each a slalom specialist of sufficient skill to thwart challenges from the more versatile all-rounders. In the men's competition Alberto Tomba of Italy at last gained the crystal trophy he had sought since he began competing in 1986. He finished comfortably ahead of Günther Mader of Austria, with Slovenia's Jure Kosir taking the bronze medal. Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, seeking a record sixth success in 11 years, this time could manage only fourth place.

      Tomba was a convincing leader in the slalom and won the giant slalom by five points, his 11 race victories comprising seven slaloms and four giant slaloms. He was the first slalom specialist to win the World Cup since Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden took the prize in 1978. Second in the slalom was Michael Tritscher of Austria. Kosir, third in the slalom, was giant slalom runner-up, ahead of Harald Strand-Nilsen of Norway. Luc Alphand of France narrowly outpointed Kristian Ghedina of Italy to win the downhill competition, with Patrick Ortlieb third for Austria. Peter Runggaldier of Italy took the supergiant slalom (super G), in front of Mader and another Italian, Werner Perathoner.

      Switzerland's Vreni Schneider claimed her third women's World Cup trophy, edging Katja Seizinger of Germany by only six points, the smallest-ever winning margin. Another Swiss, Heidi Zeller-Baehler, finished third. Schneider sealed her victory with a courageous run in the slalom, which she won during the final tournament at Bormio, Italy. She then announced her retirement after culminating a career that encompassed 55 cup race wins, 3 overall titles, and 3 Olympic gold medals. Like Tomba, she was top points scorer in both the slalom and the giant slalom. Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg placed second in the slalom, followed by Martina Ertl of Germany. Zeller-Baehler was giant slalom runner-up, with Spela Pretnar of Slovenia third. Seizinger and Zeller-Baehler finished first and second, respectively, in the super G, chased by Switzerland's Heidi Zurbriggen.

      In the downhill Picabo Street was so dominant that by mid season the American had all but sewn up the event, but her season nearly ended in tragedy when she crashed in the final race. There were fears she had been badly injured but, although airlifted off the slopes, she turned out to have suffered nothing more than severe bruises. Street was the first American, man or woman, to head the downhill rankings. Her compatriot Hilary Lindh was runner-up, with Seizinger third.

Nordic Skiing.
      Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway recaptured the men's overall title in the 16th Nordic World Cup. The women's crown was regained by Yelena Vyalbe of Russia, her third success in four years. The separate Nordic Combined World Cup was retained by Kenji Ogiwara of Japan, and the Jumping World Cup was taken by Andreas Goldberger of Austria.

      Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakhstan was the outstanding man in the world championships at Thunder Bay, Ont., winning the 10 km, 15 km, and 30 km, while Silvio Fauner of Italy bagged the grueling 50 km, in which Smirnov finished third. Norway won the team relay. Larissa Lazhutina of Russia was dominant in the women's events, winning the 5 km, 10 km, and 15 km. Vyalbe claimed the 30 km and was also on the winning Russian relay team. The Nordic combination victor was Ogiwara. The 120-m jump went to Tommy Ingebrigtsen of Norway and the 90 m to Takanobu Okabe of Japan.

Freestyle Skiing.
      In the 16th Freestyle World Cup series, Jon Moseley of the U.S. clinched the men's title, with compatriot Trace Worthington placing second and David Belhumeur of Canada third. Another American, Kristean Porter, retained the women's trophy, ahead of Maja Schmid of Switzerland and Katherina Kubenk of Canada.

      Worthington won the men's title in the biennial world championships at La Clusaz, France, followed by Darcy Downs from Canada and with Moseley third. Porter captured the women's prize from Schmid and Kubenk, the three ending in the same order as in the World Cup. (HOWARD BASS)

▪ 1995

      An increasing share of Scandinavian honours in Alpine events combined with a greater prominence of non-Scandinavians in Nordic contests in 1994 to emphasize the trend toward greater regional equality in all phases of skiing. This was compounded by a growing North American and Far Eastern challenge. Although the Olympic Winter Games at Lillehammer, Norway, were a showpiece (see Special Report (XVII Olympic Winter Games )), with an estimated 10 billion TV viewers in 100 countries, the excitement the Games generated did not cloud the more serious regard for World Cup success, which truly reflected consistency of form in all disciplines throughout the winter. The season was initially marred by the death of Ulrike Maier of Austria, twice a world supergiant slalom (super G) champion, who broke her neck during a practice run in January.

Alpine Skiing.
      The supreme performers in the 28th Alpine World Cup series were Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway, who took the men's overall title ahead of Marc Girardelli, the five-time champion from Luxembourg, and the veteran from Switzerland, Vreni Schneider, who recaptured the women's crown by amassing seven slalom victories to outpoint her Swedish rival, Pernilla Wiberg. Girardelli was the top downhill scorer. The super G was won by Norway's Jan Einar Thorsen, the giant slalom by Austria's Christian Mayer, and the slalom by Alberto Tomba of Italy, who finished third overall. Katja Seizinger was third overall in the women's competition, leading the field in both the downhill and the super G. Schneider unsurprisingly won the slalom, and Anita Wachter of Austria was first in the giant slalom.

      In the Olympic Winter Games, on February 12-27, Germany's Markus Wasmeier, aged 30, marked his final season as the only double gold medalist. By edging out Aamodt for the gold in the downhill, Tommy Moe won the first men's skiing medal for the U.S. in 10 years. Edi Podivinsky of Canada finished third. Wasmeier beat Switzerland's Urs Kaelin by only two-hundredths of a second in the giant slalom. His other success, in the super G, denied runner-up Moe a second win; Aamodt finished third. In the slalom Thomas Stangassinger gave Austria its only gold, narrowly defeating Tomba, with Jure Kosir of Slovenia third. Three Norwegians made a clean sweep of the medals in the combined event, Lasse Kjus outpacing Aamodt and Harald Nilsen.

      Seizinger was impressive in winning the women's downhill, followed by Picabo Street of the U.S. and Isolde Kostner of Italy. Deborah Compagnoni gained the giant slalom gold medal for Italy, with Martina Ertl of Germany and Schneider second and third, respectively. In the slalom there was no holding Schneider, who was chased by Elfi Eder of Austria and Katja Koren of Slovenia. Diann Roffe-Steinrotter captured the super G for the U.S., with Svetlana Gladisheva of Russia second and Kostner third. Wiberg survived a powerful second run from Schneider to take the gold in the women's combined, leaving Alenka Dovzan of Slovenia well behind in third.

Nordic Events.
      The 15th Nordic World Cup overall title for men's cross-country racing was clinched by Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakhstan, the previous season's runner-up. Defending champion Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway was second, and Jari Isometsae of Finland placed third. The women's crown was won by Manuela Di Centa of Italy, followed by two Russians, Lyubov Yegorova (see BIOGRAPHIES (Yegorova, Lyubov )) and Yelena Vyalbe, the 1993 and 1992 winners, respectively. The separate Nordic Combined World Cup was retained by Kenji Ogiwara of Japan, and the Jumping World Cup was taken by Espen Bredesen of Norway.

      At the Winter Games, Dæhlie, the winner of three world titles in 1993, claimed two gold medals, for the 10 km and 15 km. Thomas Alsgaard of Norway took the 30 km, and the stamina-sapping 50 km went to Smirnov. Italy was successful in the team relay. The winning jumpers were Germany's Jens Weissflog in the 120 m and Bredesen in the 90 m, with Germany winning the team event. The Nordic combined was won by Norway's Fred Borre Lundberg, with the team contest going to Japan. In the women's events Yegorova won both the shortest distances, the 5 km and the 10-km pursuit, and Di Centa was victor in the 15 km and 30 km; Russia took first in the team relay.

Freestyle Skiing.
      In the 15th Freestyle World Cup series, Sergey Shupletsov of Russia captured the men's combined title, ahead of David Belhumeur of Canada, with the defending champion, Trace Worthington of the U.S., third. The women's crown was gained by Kristean Porter of the U.S., ahead of Natalya Orekhova of Russia and Katherina Kubenk of Canada.

      Two freestyle categories were contested at the winter Olympics. Jean-Luc Brassard of Canada won the men's moguls, with Shupletsov runner-up and Edgar Grospiron of France third. Andreas Schönbächler of Switzerland won the aerials, pursued by two Canadians, Philippe Laroche and Lloyd Langlois. The women's moguls went to Norway's Stine Hattestad, with Liz McIntyre of the U.S. and Yelizaveta Kozhevnikova of Russia claiming silver and bronze. Lina Cheryazova of Uzbekistan won the aerials, followed by Sweden's Marie Lindgren and Hilde Lid of Norway. (HOWARD BASS)

▪ 1994

      With another Olympic Winter Games scheduled for February 1994, only two years after the last competition—to adjust the four-year cycle so that summer and winter Olympic meetings were never again held the same year—the 1993 skiing season required major contenders to maintain peak form in readiness for another assault on the cherished honours. Improved commercial sponsorship enabled season-long World Cup series to thrive in Alpine racing, the various Nordic events, and freestyle skiing. All these sports also separately staged their own world championships.

Alpine Skiing.
      The outstanding performer in the 27th Alpine World Cup series was Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, who at 29 became the first man to win the overall title for a fifth time, his general competence in all four disciplines once more proving too good for the specialists (see BIOGRAPHIES (Girardelli, Marc )). Girardelli thus edged one title ahead of Switzerland's Pirmin Zurbriggen and Italy's Gustavo Thoeni. He demonstrated his versatility by placing third in the giant slalom, fifth in the supergiant slalom, sixth in the downhill, and 13th in the slalom. The overall runner-up was Norway's Kjetil André Aamodt, who was top scorer in both the giant and supergiant slalom. Franz Heinzer of Austria, the best downhiller, finished third. Sweden's Thomas Fogdoe won the slalom.

      Anita Wachter of Austria, second in the giant slalom and fourth in both the slalom and supergiant slalom, took the women's overall title after being threatened until the very last race by the German runner-up, Katja Seizinger, winner of both the downhill and the supergiant slalom. Carole Merle of France won the giant slalom and finished third overall. The Swiss veteran Vreni Schneider won the slalom, achieving four race victories in only eight starts.

      In the world championships, on February 3-14 at Morioka-Shizukuishi, Japan, Aamodt stressed his consistency with victories in both the slalom and the giant slalom. Urs Lehmann of Switzerland won the downhill, and Norway's Lasse Kjus took the Alpine combination. Weather conditions at the meeting were so difficult that for the first time in the history of the championships, one of the events, the men's supergiant slalom, had to be canceled. Merle won the women's giant slalom, Karin Buder of Austria took the slalom, and Kate Pace of Canada was victorious in the downhill. Two Germans, Miriam Vogt and Seizinger, claimed the Alpine combination and the supergiant slalom, respectively.

Nordic Events.
      The 14th Nordic World Cup series for men's cross-country racing was retained by Bjorn Dählie of Norway, with Vladimir Smirnov of Kazakhstan second and another Norwegian, Vegard Ulvgang, third. The women's series was narrowly captured by Lyubov Yegorova from her fellow Russian Yelena Vyalbe, the defending champion. Stefania Belmondo of Italy finished third. The separate Nordic Combination World Cup was won by Kenji Ogiwara of Japan, and the Jumping World Cup was taken by an Austrian, Andreas Goldberger.

      At the world championships, on February 18-28 at Falun, Sweden, Dählie gained three cross-country gold medals, for the 15 km and 30 km and as one of the winning Norwegian quartet in the team relay. Another Norwegian, Sture Sivertsen, was first home in the 10 km, and the grueling 50 km went to Torgny Mogren of Sweden. The winning jumpers were Espen Bredesen of Norway in the 115 m and Mashiko Harada of Japan in the 90 m. Ogiwara won the Nordic combination and also helped his Japanese national team to triumph in the combination team event. Norway gained the jumping team title.

      Belmondo claimed two of the five women's cross-country gold medals, retaining the 30-km title and also winning the 10 km. Vyalbe recaptured the 15 km she had first won in 1991, and the 5 km went to Larisa Lazutina, who joined Vyalbe to capture Russia's third gold, in the team relay.

Freestyle Skiing.
      Interest in freestyle skiing increased during the year, thanks largely to its spectacular appeal on television. The 14th Freestyle World Cup series provided a second successive men's combined title for Trace Worthington of the U.S. Rune Kristiansen of Norway finished second, and Jean-Luc Brassard of Canada was third. The women's crown was captured by another Canadian, Katherina Kubenk, followed by Maja Schmid of Switzerland and Britain's Jilly Curry.

      In the freestyle world championships, on March 6-14 at Altenmarkt, Germany, Sergey Shapletsov of Russia narrowly defeated Worthington for the men's crown, with Hugo Bonatti of Austria third. Kubenk won the women's title, with Natalia Orekhova taking the silver for Russia, and Kristean Porter the bronze for the U.S. (HOWARD BASS)

* * *

 recreation, sport, and mode of transportation that involves moving over snow by the use of a pair of long, flat runners called skis, attached or bound to shoes or boots. Competitive skiing is divided into Alpine (Alpine skiing), Nordic (Nordic skiing), and freestyle (freestyle skiing) events. Competitions are also held in events such as speed skiing and snowboarding.


Skiing for transport, hunting, and war
      Skiing was a prehistoric activity; the oldest known skis date to between 8000 and 7000 BC and were discovered in Russia. Early skis have been found in many areas of northern Europe: a 4,000-year-old rock carving depicting skis was found near the Arctic Circle in Norway, and hundreds of ski fragments that are 1,000 to 3,500 years old have been found in bogs in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Some of the first skis were short and broad, resembling snowshoes (snowshoe) more than modern skis. Skiing certainly was not confined to Europe, though, as the first written references to skiing are from the Han dynasty (200–25 BC) and describe skiing in northern China.

      Many peoples who lived in climates with snow for many months of the year developed some form of skiing. The Sami (Lapps) believed themselves to be the inventors of skiing, and their use of skis for hunting was renowned from Roman times. In addition, the Vikings used skis from the 9th to the 11th century. Skis are still occasionally used for travel in rural areas of Russia and the Scandinavian countries.

 Skiing also has long been employed for military purposes. Norwegian men on skis reconnoitred before the Battle of Oslo (1200). Ski troops were also used in Sweden in 1452, and from the 15th to the 17th century, skis were used in warfare (war) in Finland, Norway, Russia, Poland, and Sweden. Capt. Jens Emmahusen wrote the first skiing manual for Norwegians in 1733. Since 1767 there have been military ski competitions with monetary prizes. These competitions may have been the forerunner of biathlons (biathlon), which combine skiing and target shooting. Military skiing continued into the 20th century where snow conditions and terrain favoured their use for scouts and for a type of mounted infantry with a first-strike advantage against small objectives. In particular, ski troops fought in both World War I and World War II. Many veterans, especially of World War II, were very active in promoting the sport of skiing after returning to civilian life.

Skiing for recreation and sport
Skiing grows in popularity
      Skiing both as recreation and as a sport was a natural development from its utilitarian applications. One of the first competitions was a cross-country skiing race at Tromsø, Nor., in 1843. There was competitive skiing in California in the 1860s on straight downhill courses, using 12-foot (3.7-metre) skis with only toe straps (the heels were loose). The first big ski-jumping (ski jumping) event took place at Christiania (now Oslo) in 1879.

 Skiing for sport in Europe, however, primarily developed after the publication of The First Crossing of Greenland (Paa ski over Grønland; 1890), Fridtjof Nansen's (Nansen, Fridtjof) account of his 1888–89 trans-Greenland expedition on skis.

      Before the mid-19th century, skiing was limited by the primitive bindings that attached the ski to the boot only at the toe, which made it all but impossible to ski downhill on steep slopes or slopes that required any significant maneuvering. According to tradition (though now subject to debate), about 1860 Norwegian Sondre Nordheim (Nordheim, Sondre) tied wet birch roots around his boots from the toe straps back around the boots' heels to anchor them firmly to the skis. After drying out, the birch roots became stiff and provided better stability and control than earlier efforts with leather straps had. With this innovation, modern downhill skiing, or Alpine skiing, with its characteristic speed and turns, became possible.

 At first Alpine skiers had to ascend on foot to a height before being able to ski down, which severely limited the number of downhill runs skiers could make in a day, even if they had the energy to keep climbing back up the slope. This changed with the introduction of a succession of devices in the 1930s—from rope tows to chairlifts and gondola lifts—that eliminated exhausting climbs up the slope and made it possible for one to ski downhill four to five times more in a day than earlier skiers could manage.

      With the invention and installation of ski lifts in the 1930s, Alpine skiing became an increasingly popular and common activity, first in Europe and North America and then later in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and Japan. In Slovenia there is a tradition of Nordic skiing going back to the 17th century, and in the 1920s and '30s Alpine skiing was introduced there as well as in Greece, Portugal, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran. The Pyrenees, which stretch along the frontier between France and Spain, had been the scene of ski competitions before World War I, and skiers had been active in the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa prior to 1914.

      Television coverage of skiing events also did much to increase the popularity of skiing worldwide beginning in the 1950s. Another factor that contributed to the spread of skiing was the introduction during the late 1950s of snowmaking machines, which guaranteed adequate snow for vacationers when the weather was uncooperative.

  Nordic, or classic, skiing consists of techniques and events that evolved in the hilly terrain of Norway and the other Scandinavian countries. The modern Nordic events are the cross-country (cross-country skiing) races (including a relay race) and ski-jumping (ski jumping) events. The Nordic combined is a separate test consisting of a 15-km cross-country race and special ski-jumping contest, with the winner determined on the basis of points awarded for performance in both events.

      There are numerous factors that differentiate the various individual cross-country races, such as the type of start, the style of skiing, and the distance. With the exception of one event, all cross-country races begin with a staggered start in which competitors are spaced 30 seconds apart. Skiers are thus racing against the clock, not each other directly. Races with pursuit formats, in which one racer or team is given a head start and the other racer or team attempts to catch up, typically involve two runs, with the racers or teams exchanging roles; ultimately, the skiers race against each other rather than the clock. Sprint races of about a kilometre are growing in popularity.

  The other important aspect of a cross-country race is the style of skiing. Until the 1970s there was only one style, now called classic, in which skiers follow parallel tracks. A more efficient type of cross-country skiing was popularized by American Bill Koch when he used a “skating” stride, pushing his skis outside the parallel tracks. This innovative style is now used in certain cross-country events. The skating technique requires longer poles and shorter skis than the classic style. It also requires higher boots that give improved ankle support.

      Individual Nordic events—in both cross-country skiing and ski jumping—were first included in the Olympics at the Winter Games at Chamonix, France, in 1924.

      By the start of the 20th century, a second upstart style of skiing competition had joined the older established cross-country skiing races and ski-jumping contests of Nordic skiing. The downhill races of this Alpine skiing, developed in the mountainous terrain of the Alps in central Europe, were generally dismissed by Nordic skiers, who considered their annual cross-country and ski-jumping events at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival near Oslo (from 1892) and the Nordic Games (held quadrennially from 1901 to 1917 and 1922 to 1926) to be the only proper representation of the sport of skiing. In 1930, however, the Nordic skiing countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland finally withdrew their resistance and allowed Alpine events to be fully sanctioned by skiing's international governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS; International Ski Federation), which was founded in 1924.

  Modern Alpine competitive skiing is divided into four races, slalom, giant slalom, supergiant slalom (super-G), and downhill (downhill skiing)—each of which is progressively faster and has fewer turns than its predecessor on the list. Super-G and downhill are known as speed events, which are contested in single runs down long, steep, fast courses featuring few and widely spaced turns. The slalom and giant slalom are known as technical events, which challenge the skier's ability to maneuver over courses marked by closely spaced gates through which both skis must pass; winners of these events are determined by the lowest combined time in two runs on two different courses. The Alpine combined event consists of a downhill and a slalom race, with the winner having the lowest combined time.

 Alpine skiing made its Olympic debut at the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ger., where a combined race (featuring both downhill and slalom events) was held. The first giant slalom Olympic competition took place at the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo, and the supergiant slalom was added at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Alta., Can. That same year the combined event, which had been removed from the roster of Olympic events in the 1940s, returned as an official event. It was dropped for the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, however, in favour of two new events—the combined slalom (a slalom run coupled with a giant slalom run) and the combined downhill (comprising a supergiant slalom run and a downhill run). The 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, once again featured an event that combined one downhill and two slalom runs. The 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, included combined downhills and slaloms for men and women.

  Freestyle skiing focuses on acrobatics and includes three events: acro, aerials, and moguls. Formerly known as ballet, acro was invented in the early 1930s in Europe. Utilizing moves from figure skating and gymnastics, the acro skier performs a 90-second routine set to music, in which jumps, flips, and spins are executed while skiing a 160-metre course on a gently sloping hill (12° to 15° incline). The performance is scored by judges on the basis of artistic impression and technical difficulty. The equipment for acro varies from that of Alpine skiing; the poles are longer and thicker, and the skis are shorter. In recent years, acro skiing has been losing out in popularity to the more gymnastic events.

 Somersaulting and other tricks were exhibited before World War I, but it was not until about 1950 that such stunts (aerials) were popularized by Norwegian Stein Eriksen, who won a gold medal in the giant slalom at the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo. There are two varieties of aerials: upright and inverted. Flips or any movements where a competitor's feet are higher than his head are not allowed in upright competition. Instead, the skier performs such jumps as the daffy (with one ski extended forward, the other backward) or the spread eagle. In inverted competition contestants execute flips and somersaults, often reaching heights of some 50 feet (15 metres). The skiers build up speed on the inrun, which leads to various ramps and a landing hill with an incline of 34° to 39° and a length of about 100 feet (30 metres). On the basis of the degree of difficulty, the routine is scored on form and technique (50 percent), takeoff and height (20 percent), and landing (30 percent).

  Mogul skiing, the navigation of large bumps (moguls) on the slope, was incorporated into competition shortly after introduction of aerials. Competing on a steep incline (22° to 32°) over a course of some 660 to 890 feet (about 200 to 270 metres), the mogul skier is scored on speed, turn techniques, and two mandatory upright jumps. There are also freestyle combined competitions in which skiers compete in acro, aerials, and moguls; the winner is determined by the total score of all three events.

      Freestyle skiing flourished on North American slopes in the 1950s and '60s as “hot dog” skiers performed increasingly daring moves. Widespread popularity quickly established skiing as a serious sport. After an appearance at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary as a demonstration sport, freestyle skiing was approved for Olympic competition. Mogul skiing debuted at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, and aerial events were added to the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Nor.

Governing body
      In 1924 the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS; International Ski Federation) was founded as the world governing body for skiing. World championships sanctioned by the FIS have been held in Nordic events since 1925 for men and since 1954 for women. Women also compete separately from men in cross-country events. There is now a women's jumping circuit.

      World championships have been held in Alpine skiing since 1931, with men and women competing separately. A World Cup in downhill has been awarded since 1967, in slalom since 1970, and in giant slalom since 1975.

      The FIS recognized freestyle skiing in 1980 and organized a World Cup for the sport that year. Other sports that have gained FIS recognition include speed skiing, grass skiing (skiing on grass, using a type of skates instead of skis), and telemark (a type of downhill skiing in which the skier's heel is not bound to the ski, as in cross-country skiing).

      Originally, snowboarding competitions were governed by the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF), which was formed in 1991 and began holding world championships in 1992. The FIS recognized snowboarding as a sport in 1994 and began holding its own world championships in snowboarding in 1996. Shortly afterward, the International Olympic Committee recognized the FIS as the official sanctioning body of the sport for Olympic purposes. Three races are recognized for men and women: half-pipe, parallel giant slalom, and snowboard cross.

Skiing equipment
 Early skis designed for sport and recreation were made from one piece of wood, often hickory, but laminated constructions began to be used from the 1930s. In the 1950s plastic running surfaces on the bottom of skis increased their speed and durability. By the 1990s skis were typically made by surrounding a foam core with wood, wrapping both layers with fibreglass combined with Kevlar, aluminum, titanium, or carbon for strength, and finally adding a plastic base. As early as the 19th century, Norwegians and others had designed skis with sides that curved up to form parabolic profiles when seen from an end. Parabolic skis began to be widely used in the 1990s and are now standard for all Alpine skis. The unique shape of parabolic skis allows novices and intermediate skiers to master difficult turns more easily. Participation in recreational and competitive skiing continues to increase in popularity among people with disabilities, for whom specially modified equipment has been designed.

 Typically the length of men's and women's Alpine skis should be close to the height of the skier, though somewhat longer skis can be handled by heavier or more experienced skiers. Alpine skis are generally about 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide. Cross-country skis are somewhat longer, narrower, and lighter than Alpine skis, and freestyle skis are somewhat shorter than Alpine skis. All types of skis—downhill (including slalom), jumping, cross-country (both for racing and touring), and freestyle—are pointed, turned up, and usually slightly wider at the tip (front) and shovel and squared at the tail (rear). They are thickest at the waist (midsection) under the foot and thinnest just before the ends. Skis are built with a camber, or a slight arch, so as to distribute the skier's weight along the length of the ski. Alpine skis once had a shallow groove running lengthwise along the centre of the bottom to give directional stability, but that feature is no longer necessary with parabolic skis. Alpine skis have sharp steel edges along the bottom to bite into hard snow or ice. Jumping skis are about 8.5 feet (2.6 metres) long and are wider, thicker, and heavier than downhill skis. They ordinarily have three grooves in the bottom and no steel edges.

      Close-fitting heavy plastic boots, held firmly by bindings (with release features in case the skier falls), are necessary equipment for all skiers. Alpine and freestyle boots have flat, stiff soles to help maintain precise control of the skis. Lighter, more flexible boots, with a binding that allows the heel to be raised, are worn for jumping and cross-country skiing.

      Alpine skiers carry a light pole of metal tubing about 4 feet (1.2 metres) long in each hand. Cross-country skiers typically carry longer and lighter poles. Poles aid the skier in pushing along on level terrain, in climbing, and in maintaining balance when racing downhill or turning. Each pole has a ring or wheel near the bottom, which prevents the point from sinking too deep in the snow.

      At one time there were a seemingly endless variety of waxes for coating skis according to exact snow conditions, slopes, and skiing styles, but the development of synthetic resins and polymers for ski coatings has eliminated the use of wax by most skiers. There also have been changes in ski clothing. New synthetic fabrics that wick body moisture away from the body have also improved warmth and comfort on the slopes.

E. John B. Allen

Additional Reading
Gösta Berg, Finds of Skis from Prehistoric Time in Swedish Bogs and Marshes (1950), is a foundational work on early skis. Olav Bø, Skiing Throughout History (1993; originally published in Norwegian, 1992), provides a general history of skiing, with an emphasis on Norwegian contributions. E. John B. Allen, The Culture and Sport of Skiing: From Antiquity to World War II (2007), shows the relationship between culture and skiing worldwide, and From Skiport to Skiing: One Hundred Years of an American Sport 1840–1940 (1993), covers the early history of skiing in the United States.

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Universalium. 2010.

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