Tonje Sekse competes in the slalom

Slalom is an alpine skiing and alpine snowboarding discipline, involving skiing between poles or gates. These are spaced more closely than those in giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill, necessitating quicker and shorter turns. Internationally, the sport is contested at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and at the Olympic Winter Games.


Main article: History of skiing

Nathalie Eklund skis slalom at Trysil, Norway in 2011

The term slalom comes from the Morgedal/Seljord dialect of the Norwegian word "slalåm": "sla", meaning "slightly inclining hillside", and "låm", meaning "track after skis".[1] The inventors of modern skiing classified their trails according to their difficulty. Slalåm was a trail used in Telemark by boys and girls not yet able to try themselves on the more challenging runs. Ufsilåm was a trail with one obstacle (ufse) like a jump, a fence, a difficult turn, a gorge, a cliff (often more than 10 metres (33 ft) high), et cetera. Uvyrdslåm was a trail with several obstacles.[2] A Norwegian military downhill competition in 1767 included racing downhill among trees "without falling or breaking skis". Sondre Norheim and other skiers from Telemark practiced uvyrdslåm or "disrespectful/reckless downhill" where they raced downhill in difficult and untested terrain (i.e., off piste). The 1866 "ski race" in Oslo was a combined cross-country, jumping and slalom competition. In the slalom participants were allowed use poles for braking and steering, and they were given points for style (appropriate skier posture). During the late 19th century Norwegian skiers participated in all branches (jumping, slalom, and cross-country) often with the same pair of skis. Slalom and variants of slalom were often referred to as hill races. Around 1900 hill races were abandoned in the Oslo championships at Huseby and Holmenkollen. Mathias Zdarsky's development of the Lilienfeld binding helped change hill races into a specialty of the Alps region.[3]

The rules for the modern slalom were developed by Arnold Lunn in 1922 for the British National Ski Championships, and adopted for alpine skiing at the 1936 Winter Olympics. Under these rules gates were marked by pairs of flags rather than single ones, were arranged so that the racers had to use a variety of turn lengths to negotiate them, and scoring was on the basis of time alone, rather than on both time and style.[4][5]


Example of a slalom course, whereby the skier passes through pairs of poles (gates) of alternating colors.

A course is constructed by laying out a series of gates, formed by alternating pairs of red and blue poles. The skier must pass between the two poles forming the gate, with the tips of both skis and the skier's feet passing between the poles. A course has 55 to 75 gates for men and 40 to 60 for women. The vertical drop for a men's course is 180 to 220 m (591 to 722 ft) and measures slightly less for women.[6] The gates are arranged in a variety of configurations to challenge the competitor.

Because the offsets are relatively small in slalom, ski racers take a fairly direct line and often knock the poles out of the way as they pass, which is known as blocking. (The main blocking technique in modern slalom is cross-blocking, in which the skier takes such a tight line and angulates so strongly that he or she is able to block the gate with the outside hand.) Racers employ a variety of protective equipment, including shin pads, hand guards, helmets and face guards.

Clearing the gates

Traditionally, bamboo poles were used for gates, the rigidity of which forced skiers to maneuver their entire body around each gate.[7] In the early 1980s, rigid poles were replaced by hard plastic poles, hinged at the base. The hinged gates require, according to FIS rules, only that the skis and boots of the skier go around each gate.

The new gates allow a more direct path down a slalom course through the process of cross-blocking or shinning the gates.[8] Cross-blocking is a technique in which the legs go around the gate with the upper body inclined toward, or even across, the gate; in this case the racer's outside pole and shinguards hit the gate, knocking it down and out of the way. Cross-blocking is done by pushing the gate down with the arms, hands, or shins.[9] By 1989, most of the top technical skiers in the world had adopted the cross-block technique.[10]


Bottom: 2013 FIS legal slalom race skis, top: giant slalom race skis from 2006

With the innovation of shaped skis around the turn of the 21st century, equipment used for slalom in international competition changed drastically. World Cup skiers commonly skied on slalom skis at a length of 203–207 centimetres (79.9–81.5 in) in the 1980s and 1990s but by the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the majority of competitors were using skis measuring 160 cm (63.0 in) or less.

The downside of the shorter skis was that athletes found that recoveries were more difficult with a smaller platform underfoot. Out of concern for the safety of athletes, the FIS began to set minimum ski lengths for international slalom competition. The minimum was initially set at 155 cm (61.0 in) for men and 150 cm (59.1 in) for women, but was increased to 165 cm (65.0 in) for men and 155 cm (61.0 in) for women for the 2003–2004 season.

The equipment minimums and maximums imposed by the International Ski Federation (FIS) have created a backlash from skiers, suppliers, and fans. The main objection is that the federation is regressing the equipment, and hence the sport, by two decades.[11]

American Bode Miller hastened the shift to the shorter, more radical sidecut skis when he achieved unexpected success after becoming the first Junior Olympic athlete to adopt the equipment in giant slalom and super-G in 1996. A few years later, the technology was adapted to slalom skis as well.

Men's slalom World Cup podiums

In the following table men's slalom World Cup podiums in the World Cup since first season in 1967.[12]

Season 1st 2nd 3rd
1967 France Jean-Claude Killy France Guy Perillat Austria Heinrich Messner
1968 Switzerland Dumeng Giovanoli France Jean-Claude Killy France Patrick Russel
1969 France Alain Penz
Austria Alfred Matt
France Jean-Noel Augert
France Patrick Russel
1970 France Alain Penz France Jean-Noël Augert
France Patrick Russel
1971 France Jean-Noël Augert Italy Gustav Thöni United States Tyler Palmer
1972 France Jean-Noël Augert Poland Andrzej Bachleda Italy Roland Thöni
1973 Italy Gustav Thöni Germany Christian Neureuther France Jean-Noël Augert
1974 Italy Gustav Thöni Germany Christian Neureuther Austria Johann Kniewasser
1975 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Italy Gustav Thöni Italy Piero Gros
1976 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Italy Piero Gros Italy Gustav Thöni
Austria Hans Hinterseer
1977 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Austria Klaus Heidegger Liechtenstein Paul Frommelt
1978 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Austria Klaus Heidegger United States Phil Mahre
1979 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark United States Phil Mahre Germany Christian Neureuther
1980 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bojan Križaj Germany Christian Neureuther
1981 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark United States Phil Mahre Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bojan Križaj
United States Steve Mahre
1982 United States Phil Mahre Sweden Ingemar Stenmark United States Steve Mahre
1983 Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Sweden Stig Strand Liechtenstein Andreas Wenzel
1984 Luxembourg Marc Girardelli Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Austria Franz Gruber
1985 Luxembourg Marc Girardelli Liechtenstein Paul Frommelt Sweden Ingemar Stenmark
1986 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Rok Petrovič Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bojan Križaj
Sweden Ingemar Stenmark
Liechtenstein Paul Frommelt
1987 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Bojan Križaj Sweden Ingemar Stenmark Germany Armin Bittner
1988 Italy Alberto Tomba Austria Günther Mader United States Felix McGrath
1989 Germany Armin Bittner Italy Alberto Tomba Luxembourg Marc Girardelli
Norway Ole Kristian Furuseth
1990 Germany Armin Bittner Italy Alberto Tomba
Norway Ole Kristian Furuseth
1991 Luxembourg Marc Girardelli Norway Ole Kristian Furuseth Austria Rudolf Nierlich
1992 Italy Alberto Tomba Switzerland Paul Accola Norway Finn Christian Jagge
1993 Sweden Thomas Fogdö Italy Alberto Tomba Austria Thomas Stangassinger
1994 Italy Alberto Tomba Austria Thomas Stangassinger Slovenia Jure Košir
1995 Italy Alberto Tomba Austria Michael Tritscher Slovenia Jure Košir
1996 France Sebastien Amiez Italy Alberto Tomba Austria Thomas Sykora
1997 Austria Thomas Sykora Austria Thomas Stangassinger Norway Finn Christian Jagge
1998 Austria Thomas Sykora Austria Thomas Stangassinger Norway Hans Petter Buraas
1999 Austria Thomas Stangassinger Slovenia Jure Košir Norway Finn Christian Jagge
2000 Norway Kjetil André Aamodt Norway Ole Kristian Furuseth Slovenia Matjaž Vrhovnik
2001 Austria Benjamin Raich Austria Heinz Schilchegger Austria Mario Matt
2002 Croatia Ivica Kostelić United States Bode Miller France Jean-Pierre Vidal
2003 Finland Kalle Palander Croatia Ivica Kostelić Austria Rainer Schönfelder
2004 Austria Rainer Schönfelder Finland Kalle Palander Austria Benjamin Raich
2005 Austria Benjamin Raich Austria Rainer Schönfelder Austria Manfred Pranger
2006 Italy Giorgio Rocca Finland Kalle Palander Austria Benjamin Raich
2007 Austria Benjamin Raich Austria Mario Matt Sweden Jens Byggmark
2008 Italy Manfred Mölgg France Jean-Baptiste Grange Austria Reinfried Herbst
2009 France Jean-Baptiste Grange Croatia Ivica Kostelić France Julien Lizeroux
2010 Austria Reinfried Herbst France Julien Lizeroux Switzerland Silvan Zurbriggen
2011 Croatia Ivica Kostelić France Jean-Baptiste Grange Sweden André Myhrer
2012 Sweden André Myhrer Croatia Ivica Kostelić Austria Marcel Hirscher
2013 Austria Marcel Hirscher Germany Felix Neureuther Croatia Ivica Kostelić
2014 Austria Marcel Hirscher Germany Felix Neureuther Norway Henrik Kristoffersen
2015 Austria Marcel Hirscher Germany Felix Neureuther Russia Alexander Khoroshilov
2016 Norway Henrik Kristoffersen Austria Marcel Hirscher Germany Felix Neureuther
2017 Austria Marcel Hirscher Norway Henrik Kristoffersen Italy Manfred Mölgg
2018 Austria Marcel Hirscher Norway Henrik Kristoffersen Sweden André Myhrer
2019 Austria Marcel Hirscher France Clément Noël Switzerland Daniel Yule
2020 Norway Henrik Kristoffersen France Clément Noël Switzerland Daniel Yule
2021 Austria Marco Schwarz France Clément Noël Switzerland Ramon Zenhäusern
2022 Norway Henrik Kristoffersen Austria Manuel Feller Norway Atle Lie McGrath
2023 Norway Lucas Braathen Norway Henrik Kristoffersen Switzerland Ramon Zenhäusern
2024 Austria Manuel Feller Germany Linus Straßer Norway Timon Haugan


  1. ^ Kunnskapsforlagets idrettsleksikon. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget, 1990, p.273.
  2. ^ NAHA // Norwegian-American Studies
  3. ^ Bergsland, E.: På ski. Oslo: Aschehoug, 1946, p.27.
  4. ^ Hussey, Elisabeth. "The Man Who Changed the Face of Alpine Skiing", Skiing Heritage, December 2005, p. 9.
  5. ^ Bergsland, Einar (1952). Skiing: a way of life in Norway. Oslo: Aschehoug.
  6. ^ Slade, Daryl (February 12, 1988). "Alpine evolution continues". Ocala (FL) Star-Banner. Universal Press Syndicate. p. 4E.
  7. ^ "Alpine skiing: Stenmark on slalom". Observer-Reporter. Washington, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. February 13, 1994. p. C7.
  8. ^ McMillan, Ian (February 28, 1984). "A new line in slalom poles". Glasgow Herald. p. 24.
  9. ^ Bell, Martin. "A matter of course". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  10. ^ Gurshman, Greg. "To Cross-Block or Not To Cross-Block?". Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Giant Slalom Racers Object to a Mandate on New Equipment". The New York Times. 22 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2022-01-01. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Winter Sports Chart - Alpine Skiing". Retrieved 11 February 2018.