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I don't understand Slalom

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
Okay it looks like they turn one direction around blue, and the other direction around red - but what's up with the one or two parts of the course where there's a blue and red pole together?

*confused*
 

volklgirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
The red and blue together isn't really together. It's hard to see on TV, but each "gate" actually has 2 poles, an inner marker (the one they actually turn around), and an outer marker, and they must pass between them. Obviously, the closer they get to the inner marker, the faster the line they're skiing so the outer marker is pretty superfluous most of the time. The exception to that is during a "flush", where the turns are almost nonexistent, and they ski an almost straight line down the hill. When you see the red and blue together, what you're actually seeing is the inner marker of one color and the outer maker of the other right next to each other...their respective mates are uphill and downhill from the ones you're seeing. I'll see if I can find a pic that makes sense.

OK. You can't really see the colors, but you can see the pairs of poles and how she skis between each set:
 

tjm235

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
This guy has some nice visuals to give you a good idea of what is going on:
http://www.james-harvey.com/Clients/BigRigCreative/USSkiTeam/swfs/training_slalom_v1.1.swf

VG explained very well but just to expand a littler further... a gate is technically two poles of the same color and a racer must break the imaginary line between the two poles with both skis. In slalom, you set up the gates in various combinations to create different rhythms or create direction changes in a course. There are essentially 4 types of combinations: open gates (the standard most common gate, with two poles horizontal from each other across the falline), hairpins (two consecutive vertical or closed gates), flushes (3 or more consecutive vertical/closed gates... these were always my favorite part of the course... quick feet and fast!), and delays (basically just a gate that is intended to delay your turn into the next gate, hard to explain). When you're actually in a course (or even watching in person), slalom naturally makes a lot more sense, but watching it on tv is definitely very confusing... especially at world cup speeds!
 
#8
I'll add that delays are usual;y intended to change the line of the race by moving racers over to a different lane -- instructors, delays make a racer ski like we do when doing lange changers. Sometimes to avoid wonky terrain, sometimes to avoid really bad snow.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
If you ever have the chance to get on a course, the gates and which ones to ski through at a particular time become readily apparent. But yeah, on TV, there's a bit of an optical illusion.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#10
If you ever have the chance to get on a course, the gates and which ones to ski through at a particular time become readily apparent. But yeah, on TV, there's a bit of an optical illusion.
I haven't raced slalom in like...16 years? And I only raced a handful of times in Armed Forces races. But even on the slalom course, I thought it was weird and found some of the non-standard gates to be confusing. I think I managed to not DQ myself in the races, but I do remember it taking me a while to figure it out in practice. Hah, and I remember feeling like quite an idiot trying to figure it out the first time - sideslipping the course and having to ask "wait, what's going on here????" Hahahaha.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
I haven't raced slalom in like...16 years? And I only raced a handful of times in Armed Forces races. But even on the slalom course, I thought it was weird and found some of the non-standard gates to be confusing. I think I managed to not DQ myself in the races, but I do remember it taking me a while to figure it out in practice. Hah, and I remember feeling like quite an idiot trying to figure it out the first time - sideslipping the course and having to ask "wait, what's going on here????" Hahahaha.
Maybe our high school courses were set differently. I do remember being anxious about whether I would take the correct gates, but between all the ruts and not being fast, I figured them out. :smile:
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#12
Maybe our high school courses were set differently. I do remember being anxious about whether I would take the correct gates, but between all the ruts and not being fast, I figured them out. :smile:
I do remember once people skied it, you just follow the ski tracks/ruts and then it's easy. :smile:
 

Serafina

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
I haven't seen the coverage of the regular slalom event, but in the women's combined, it looked like a lot of the skiers were just riding right over some of the pairs of poles that were set vertically on the hill. I watched carefully because I thought "HUH?" and sure enough, they'd whip through them in such a way that both poles were getting bent by the skis. Obviously, there was something going on with those that the camera angle wasn't able to pick up, but I can't figure out what must have been going on to bend both of the poles pretty much at the same time. I remain mystified about this phenomenon.
 

litterbug

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
Thanks for the clarification, tjm235, you've corrected a lifetime of misunderstanding! :thumbsup: Slalom gates are so close that I could never figure them out, but it's always looked to me like the skiers were skiing between one color on the one side and another on the other. But even that didn't feel right. Learn something every day!
 

segacs

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
I'm also confused by it, but I think it's easier to see with less skilled skiers. Oddly enough, it's obvious when I watch the kids racing the gates under the chair lifts at our local hills. On TV at Olympic level, they're skiing so close to the gates that it's really hard to see. But the younger kids and less skilled skiers aren't following such a close line, so you see them weaving in and out more.
 

h2orider

Certified Ski Diva
#16
They are just skiing a straight line through some of those flushes and the breakaway gates just bend down either with the racers hand, shin hence all the protection on the shins/hands/face etc. you don't normally see in the other races (on the outside of the suit that is)
 
#18
I do remember once people skied it, you just follow the ski tracks/ruts and then it's easy. :smile:
I've only race 1/2 dozen times in various situations. Most of them are pretty obvious from the racer's perspective, as long as I'm skiing slowly that is. Still, once the pressure of the race came on, I found it hard enough to "find" the next set of gates and set a reasonable path to it.

One race I was on, the fog rolled in mid-race. The guy in front of me went off course so I had multiple tracks I had to figure out which one leads to the gate. It really wasn't much fun. And guess what, that was the last time I raced.
 

Tammy

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
I hate delays. Yuck.
Me too. Luckily we don't do those in our Beer League. In my limited experience with masters' level racing/training at least someone will tell you where the delay is when you're inspecting the course. Another way I've seen this handled is using single gates for most of the course and a set of double gates for the delay.

I'd like to understand more about slalom; only did it once and it was very challenging. Maybe next year I'll find some way to learn it without having to travel 3.5 hours from home to train.
 

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