Enjoying the sport of skiing means increasing knowledge of its variations. We’re introducing a series called “Ski Spotlight,” which will serve as a space for us to explain and explore different types of skiing. The first, most obvious, and best-covered on this site is… *drumroll* … alpine skiing!
Alpine skiing is the variation of the sport most people think of when they hear the term. This variant utilizes fixed-heel bindings and is typically practiced at ski resorts. However, there are several opportunities for off-piste, backcountry alpine skiing. Through the use of hiking, snowmobiles, helicopters, or snowcats, alpine skiers can practice their sport nearly anywhere with elevation.
As of 1994, there were estimated to be around 55 million people worldwide who engaged in alpine skiing. To practice this type of skiing, athletes follow the fall line of a slope in order to reach maximum possible speed. A skier will point their skis perpendicular to the fall line—across rather than down the hill—to slow or stop. Additionally, alpine skiing focuses on the use of turns to control both speed and direction.
Alpine skis are shaped to enable carve turning, having evolved significantly since the sport was popularized in the 1980s. Skis come in several shapes, each intended for different conditions. For example, powder skis are often used when there is a large, fresh amount of snow, and they are often wider and lighter. All-mountain skis are often heavier, straighter, and narrower, whereas freestyle skis are tipped at both the fronts and backs. Every detail of an alpine ski has a practical purpose.
As with all sports, alpine skiers are susceptible to injury. The most common types of alpine injuries include damage done to the knee, head, neck, shoulders, hands, and back. Alpine skiing is known for its break-neck speeds, thrilling adrenaline, and spectacular sights. Though this is not the only type of skiing practiced in the Wichita area, it is certainly the best-known.